Whatever Happens…just happened with StoryMusic, CGO and Kazhakstan…

It was a wonderful Open Space principal day today – “whatever happens is the only thing that could, whoever comes are the right people”…and I entered a world of possibilities because of the enthusiastic welcome and encouragement of other humans.  CGO is about making connections – try this short list for starters…

9am – Attend an RSA and Arts Council lecture on thinking differently about arts and culture, valuing culture at the heart of a holistic series of blobs (to slightly misquote the head of Arts Council England)…but first I have a problem. How do I find some LED projection screens in London for my DxL Japanese colleagues to use in a workshop. Who stops at my table but the amazing Ken Bennett Hunter – one of the most learned writers on technology and the theatre in the business.  He instantly suggests 3 names.  Job done.

10.45am – Meeting as we walk across the West End with producer/theatremaker Jennifer Lunn who had shared the delight of the RSA where we were both fired up by some of the ideas and the passion for the arts shared by the panel and the room.  I’d asked whether she might be interested in helping me develop StoryMusic London 2014.  Little did I know that she was a specialist in story, and had recently been involved in a pan European project involving 7 languages, 7 sets of stories, 7 cultures.  So the idea of this project with 50 cultures working together is only a small step. And the idea of helping work on StoryMusic 2020 with 274 countries across the planet is just a bit bigger step.  We shared excitement.

12noon – quick meet with one of the most experienced Production Managers in the UK and the world of major shows, Martyn Hayes – and together we shaped a great workshop programme for the Japanese before I dipped into the Lyric Theatre for some filming of a taster for a possible big BBC Series I’ve been asked to help with.  Nigel Richards singing his heart out on this beautiful morning – his voice touches my heart whenever I hear it. Can’t wait to see his Fleshcreep at the Lyric Hammersmith this Christmas.

2.30pm – arrive at the World Travel Market to have a quick session with the high brand marketing expert Mr Gunn as we explore how to help develop Kolomna Pastilla in the UK.  We both explored the Russian stands to see who could inspire us about Komolna. He was less lucky. I met two wonderful tour specialists from Moscow who not only knew where it was, they had been there, loved what our colleagues are doing in the redevelopment of museums and experiences, and told me about the Kremlin and other museums.  Great to do a bit of mystery shopping.   Then also delighted to find that Mr Gunn absolutely gets StoryMusic and wants to read my one page document and started flowing with people who could be interested.  Wonderful.

4pm – I have 2hrs now to start my personal challenge for StoryMusic. To visit as many countries as possible and try to find one contact in each who will help me to find a first person to contact who knows about composers and writers in their Country.  Tomorrow I will continue but for now, in 2 hours, I met with representatives from Kyrgyzstan, Macau, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Tahiti, Bhutan, Uzbekistan, Brazil, Korea and Japan.  Most were incredibly helpful and I have their cards to email them when they return home.  One must however get a very special single out.

On the Kazakhstan stand there was not only a couple of musicians, but one was a leading composer and was a specialist in bringing back to life the string instrument the Zhetygen. She will be playing for us tomorrow. In the meantime their wonderful Alua Akhemetova, Head of Tourism, gave me a brochure which featured the music of the Country and revealed amazing facts which fill my StoryMusic heart with joy:

a)      The flag is a sun and an eagle – the theme of StoryMusic is the sun

b)      There is a mountain of sand which literally “sings” in the wind – The Singing Dune

c)      They are specialising in the study of medieval music including Kui– historic songs

d)      And a battle of Aitys Aitys (singing poetic competition) “In Kazakh culture, “yelendip” (song writer) deserved the title of “akyn” after participation in several competitions – aitys and after defeating one of the famous akyns (akyn is an improviser, the bearer of elevated high poetry). A real akyn was considered the one who defeated the rivals with artistic resourceful, witty improvisations.  The tradition continues today.

Poetry, Songwriting, Music – ancient, modern, and natural. One chance meeting in 37,000 sq meters of exhibition space.

StoryMusic is about exploring through story and music what it is to be human, what it is to make creative work, what it is to inspire and educate through your culture, and what it is to collaborate.  I so look forward to working with the Kazhakstan cultural community.

What a difference between that and a couple of stands (not from countries listed above) where the rep was totally uninterested in anyone talking to them, and even worse the stands which were absolutely empty. I saw one stand for a major hotel chain which had best remain nameless which must have been 70+ sq meters (and my 6m stand last year cost £3k).  Noone on the stand. No customer. No staff. No brochures.  Nothing.  Why bother to come all that way and then not look for business.

Anyway – end of rant.

An amazing day. And tomorrow is 6hrs at the World Travel Market before a meeting with a dozen UK composers and lyricists.  Nothing if not varied.