Winnie Dahlgren tells the story behind the project(s):
No Boundaries/Sem Fronteiras was started back in 2007; the main purpose was bringing music education and concerts to Mozambique. The people behind the project are: Myself, Stewart Sukuma and Samito Matsinhe. For further details about who we are, please go to the Bios page.
In the beginning:
Back in 1998 I met Stewart Sukuma in Boston at Berklee College of Music.
I was then working in the Registrar’s Office, and Stewart had problems with his schedule, so he came to see me, to get it worked out. We quickly became friends, and talked about working together in a musical setting. Stewart needed a band for a festival concert in Atlanta. Since I knew a lot of musicians in Boston, I helped out getting the band together. The performance was a big success and we soon started talking about bringing music and specifically music education to Mozambique. My first trip to Mozambique was in 1999, and it was during that time the idea for “No Boundaries/Sem Fronteiras” took shape. A couple of years later I went to Mozambique on a second trip. During these two trips to Maputo (the capital of Mozambique) I had the pleasure of meeting many of the local musicians there. Many of them had expressed their wish to come to the United States to study, but did not have the financial means to accomplish this dream.
Stewart and I frequently discussed bringing my quintet to Mozambique to give clinics, perform and to promote a musical as well as cultural exchange of ideas. The idea being we would educate the musicians in Maputo, on topics like instrumental technique, theory, ensemble performance, recording techniques, and any other topics that the participants would like to learn. In return, we would learn about the Mozambican music, specifically, the different styles and musical instruments being used in that region of the world.
In March of 2006 Stewart was visiting the States, at which time he also gave a clinic at Berklee College of Music, talking about the music from Mozambique. We again discussed the possibility of making “No Boundaries/Sem Fronteiras” come to life. We are both Berklee alum, so we applied for a Berklee alumni grant, which we were fortunate to receive. With other sponsors we collected enough money to make the project happen in 2007.
May of 2007 was when No Boundaries made the first trip, and we brought my quintet to Mozambique. While in Maputo we focused on the following issues: Auditions for Berklee College of Music, workshops, and concerts. The workshops and concerts were held with the focus on exchanging information across the different cultures. We held several different kinds of workshops during this week. The instrumental workshops, where we would teach technique on the different instruments: Voice, Piano, Bass, Drums, Percussion, and Sound Engineering. We also held a workshop focusing on how to rehearse, how to practice and prepare for a concert, the attitude towards the music, the leader and band in general. What would/would not be tolerated from a professional musician.
In return we attended workshops where we learned about the music and culture in Mozambique: We met with Compania Nacional de Canto e Dança, who showed us some of the traditional rhythms and dances.
Towards the end of the trip we went to Matalane to meet the legendary painter, poet and freedom fighter Malangatana. It was exciting to hear about the history of his project – Centro Cultural de Matalane. To hear more about the history and political events taking place in Mozambique. To meet some of the people from Matalane who sang and danced for us. To experience a day outside of Maputo, and to eat some of the traditional food from the region.
“No Boundaries/Sem Fronteiras” started with a small idea of just bringing my band to Maputo to perform. It grew into a bigger project with auditions and workshops added.
No Boundaries part II:
In August of 2011 I went back to Mozambique, this time without my band, but again with Stewart Sukuma and this time also with Samito Matsinhe, Mozambican pianist living in Canada. We connected with the university, the music school and the American Embassy, and I gave clinics and master classes all three places. In addition to this we were invited to perform at the American Ambassadors house in connection with an event called “Martin Luther King – I have a dream” – which couldn’t be more fitting for our project!
We went on a trip to Xai-Xai to meet with master timbila player Venancio Mbande and his orchestra. Timbila is the Mozambican version of a xylophone/marimba. It was a very interesting trip, getting to experience the Chopi music up close, and to learn even more about the music of Mozambique.
I could continue in detail about these trips, instead check out this website with the photos and videos from the trips.
More news coming soon about the new adventures from No Boundaries!
Have a wonderful day,
Co-founder of “No Boundaries/Sem Fronteiras”.