On 9th October 2018 KAMA hosted its first workshop, 'Folksong with Feng'.
Twelve attendees gathered together in the atmospheric, multi-faith chapel at Somerville College. Some people had brought along their guitars and ukuleles to strum along. Feng began the class by talking to us about his background and explained that he is a political refugee from China.
We then started learning ‘In a Faraway Place’, an evocative Kazakh song popularised by Chinese folk song composer Wang Luobin in the 1930s. Though the melody was simple enough, the pronunciation of the lyrics proved more of a challenge… but Feng was encouraging and patient, and we were also extremely lucky to have Shirley in the group, another native speaker who had arrived in Oxford just a week before. Thank you, Shirley!
Feng’s second choice of song, ‘The Outside World’ was in a more familiar idiom to our Western ears, and we quickly learned the catchy tune and the simple chords, and were even able to add a bit of harmony, thanks to the tenors amongst us.
We rounded off the session with a final ‘performance’ of ‘In a Faraway Place’, and were reminded of the power of music to unite and move us – no matter where we’re from.
Huge thanks are due to Brian McMahon, Chapel Administrator at Somerville College, for hosting and supporting this workshop; to Tarje (KAMA mentor), who helped to bring Feng’s vision to reality; and – as ever – to Isabel*.
*This was written by Sarah, who is far too modest to thank herself! But the success of this workshop was due in no small part to her and Matt – thank you both ever so much. My role on the day only really consisted in enjoying the fruits of your organisation and expertise! ~Isabel.