The M&R team has just completed its activities for Summer 2023, which took place from 7 to 19 August. This year the team (consisting of a total of 17 people) worked separately in the first week, and then came together in Baalbek for Summer Camp in the second week, which culminated in the final concert on Saturday 19.

During the first week, Community Music work was carried out in the camps of Beddawi (Tripoli) and Mar Elias (Beirut); in the latter, we began a collaboration with Al Kamandjati, a long-standing Palestinian association that has always brought high-level musical training to the diaspora places of their people. With them we shared our activities and the study of the pieces for the final concert. Meanwhile, in the El Jalil camp in Baalbek, we continued our work focused on musical psychosocial interventions, both working directly with the children (in a large group!) and training and sharing with local teachers. We also welcomed two music therapy trainees who were able to both run a short music therapy programme with two small groups of children from the camp and participate in the psychosocial sessions.

Orchestral rehearsals in Baalbek

In the second week the whole group of students and the M&R team gathered at the El Jalil camp in Baalbek to attend the Summer Camp: a week of total immersion in music and sociality! This year, thanks also to M&R’s new local coordinator, Ahmad El Kheir, we managed to involve students not only from the camps where we usually work (Beddawi, Ein El Helweh, El Jalil) but also from Shatila, Burj El Barajneh (both in the Beirut area) and Burj El Shemali (near Tyre, in the south of the country). This is a great result of inclusion and sharing for young people who find it very difficult to get together: in total, the Summer Camp involved almost 80 people, including students, local operators and M&R team members, in a great international exchange of solidarity and musical sharing. This is Community Music!

Ten pieces were performed at the final concert, five of which were Arabic pieces selected and arranged by Assomoud and five European pieces arranged by the M&R team. The orchestra was composed of the children participating in the Community Music project, together with musicians from the Italian team and from Al Kamandjati. A choir composed of children from the local camp also participated, singing a traditional Italian song (Schiarazula Marazula) and lyrics of their own composition to the melody of the final song (L’amour toujours by Gigi D’agostino!).

This year’s work has been demanding but of great beauty and significance, both for us and for all those involved. We believe that the atmosphere of passionate sharing and deep friendship that permeated the days of the Summer Camp is as important as the musical results we achieved, and that it has given us experiences that will flourish within us, bringing light, warmth and music wherever we go.