Motaz and Mirna “Folklore Bridges”: a cross-cultural music residency from the North of Jordan to the Heart of Cairo Mirna Nizar from Abrez Music in Amman, Jordan, shares thoughts on her Tandem project "Folklore Bridges". Mirna is working in Tandem with Motaz Sobhy from 6 Bab Sharq in Alexandria, Egypt. We chose to start our story with this quote by the great poet, Khalil Gibran, because we felt that if we were to replace the word love with music, it would relay the essence of how our own course in “Folklore Bridges” was shifted. Ten months ago, we set out to implement “A Traditional Music Journey From Wadi Rum to Aswan”, and now we’re delving into a music residency “From the North of Jordan to the Heart of Cairo”. Several different geographies, musicians, and aspirations later, we’re here to share how music has redirected our course. We first started with the notion of uniting traditional musicians from the south of Jordan with ones from Nuba-Egypt, together in a one week music residency in Aswan, aspiring for an equal chance of cross-folklore creation, between two communities who might otherwise be estranged to possible kindred music spirits, whether for access or financial reasons. We were mainly driven by a passion for exchanging and documenting heritage music, where we’re organising a music residency of cross-cultural music creation, culminating with a concert, coupled by a music video of the event and a short documentary of the process. In turn, we dove into the eye-opening research phase, which comprised: finding suitable traditional musician candidates from both countries, finding the ideal location for the residency, and appointing the right music mentor to gently guide such a first-time collaboration between the traditional musicians. Collage of Mirna and Motaz This research phase truly took us to magical places and music; from getting to know local musicians in Aqaba and the rose gold desert of Wadi Rum, to the gripping charm of Aswan, where we met inspiring musicians through DAR – House of Arts & Culture, meeting a great network of cultural professionals along the way in both countries. However, this enriching research phase soon presented reality checks! Noting that the project is a first-of-its-kind for both of us partners, despite having accumulative diverse portfolios, from various music projects at Abrez Music to many arts development projects at 6 Bab Sharq. As we got to know the traditional musicians more closely, we realised that it won’t be fair to pressure their joint residency time, their chemistry buildup, and the natural process of their co-creation into just one week, limited by our logistical capacity. Nor would it have been possible to bring a music mentor/mediator on board, without imposing or ‘micro-directing’ what should be an intuitive music process, in order to meet the deadline. That entire course was proving unfair to the music and to the very spirit of Folklore Bridges. The faith in a raw cross-folklore music residency between purely traditional musicians and its documentation is still alive in our hearts, but it would need to be given its natural course and time – which was restricted in our case. Ultimately, our journey has culminated in bridging two contemporary musicians that share a strong connection to their roots; the renowned oud virtuoso Mohamed Abo Zekry (Egypt) and the rising contemporary folk musician Ahmad Selawy (Jordan), who’ll be exploring cross-cultural music sounds in their own unique interpretations. We’re very pleased that Folklore Bridges will be implemented in partnership with DAR – House of Arts & Culture in Cairo, who’ll be providing the cultural cradle space for the music residency. As for the closing concert, we look forward to sharing the performance at Bait Al Oud on the 11th of February. Keep an eye out for the Folklore Bridges concert video and “making-of” documentary. In closing, we can safely say that allowing the nature of the arts to direct your course will lead you to the right shores! Press on the picture to see the whole poster Special thanks to Ashraf Kinawy, Amira El-Sebaai, Al Darb Al Ahmar Arts School, DAR-House of Arts & Culture, Ayaat Mohamed, Kawkab Tawfik, Dusk Sounds, Zahraa Jaqoub, Dina Nasser, and Nuno Silva for their support/inspiration at various points throughout the journey.