“Music can break boundaries”: free activities in Cardiff encourage cultural unity

Musicians in Cardiff are holding free music activities for the children and the local community to bring people together.

Children wearing the masks made by themselves during the activities

Musicians from different cultures are holding music activities for free with the local community in Riverside starting from this week, and all these activities are part of a project called the River Music project. 

“There’s something about bringing different cultures together with the music, which is a kind of metaphor, for cultural understanding, as you know. All of this is conscious from our behalf, it’s not trying to force it into anything, but the bringing together.” Said Allan Herbert, one of the runners of the project. 

Allan Herbert, one of the organizers of the River Music Project

The River Music Project aims to help people in Riverside understand each other better through music activities. 

The idea of the project came with the growth in immigration in the area these years. People feel that languages and cultures became a boundary to each other. Meanwhile, there’s a high percentage of very skilled musicians among them. 

Musicians from different cultures playing together during the project

“Language is again, a barrier. There’s a certain rigidity to the way a lot of Western cultures kind of manage things, and people are used to….they often do find it difficult to find places to play, certainly huge difficulties in finding a way to make any sort of a living,” said Allan. 

This project started in Riverside as many people from different countries settle in this area and some suffer from low-paid employment or no employment. It is also a place with many young people, 50% of the areas are under 30, 25% are under 15.  

Since many young families from diffetent cultures moved in these years, a project can bring the children together and use music to communicate becomes a great idea to let people in Riverside understand eachother better.

“We’re working with children in a multicultural area, it’s being respectful to those cultures. And in a similar way, what we’re doing in music as well, they have an underlying message about integration and harmony, so three years ago, the project started.” said Allan. 

“We want to keep that [message] central to it. But we’re conscious with the music, that there are opportunities there for the musicians as individuals and as collectives to be able to form more kind of fruitful musical identity similar and bring more employments. ”  

Clothes painted by the children in the Riverside community

For this reason, many activities have been held in the past three years, even during the height of the pandemic with online ukulele classes being offered.

“I heard a lot of music coming from houses and I thought it would be a positive response. So, I started knocking on doors! The rest is history!” said Nick Lewis, one of the musicians in the project. 

So far, the project has arranged a few performances in Wales, they performed in the Cardiff story Museum and the centre of town. The new free activities that started this week will be a new step of the project. 

Children performance outdoors during the activities

“There’s a lot of kind of commonality there because of the cultural aspect of what we’re doing. We’re working with children in a multicultural area, we’ll just keep going and see where it goes,” said Allan.