What motivates, inspires an ethnic musician
This question should generate varied responses, ranging from macabre to sublime. Why? It’s the complex nature of the human spirit that for ages has perplexed thought disciples. This examiner is not about to jump in with some scholarly insights simply because, even as a musician, his orientation is different from let’s say a wife who is perhaps more capable in this domain than he is, by a long shot. She plays the piano and laud but has a master’s degree in psychology and bachelor’s degrees in psychology and nursing, working currently as a CPS School Nurse. In approaching this sub-topic about the roots of a musical artist of the ethnic variety, this examiner will instead draw from information provided by the artists themselves.
Has anyone ever considered focusing on venues where talents are in fact bred, nurtured and, when ready, put on stage for an audience to watch? These are the places where time and patient efforts are invested to establish a milieu for developing future ethnic musicians and performers. In the field of sports, it is not uncommon to find countries like China or Korea where very young children are snatched from their families and literally robbed of what we consider normal childhood to prepare them to become champions on the global arena such as the International Olympic Games or Asian Games.
Ethnic music, be it hitched to dance, drama or a solo/choral performance, can and does thrive in a similar breeding haven. Naturally, one’s home for perhaps most of the cases is crucial in sparking an interest in things ethnic. We shall see this important link when our focus turns to the ethnic performers as they get featured in subsequent articles.
Part 1 of this series on what’s behind Chicago Ethnic Music will dwell on key venues or group settings that play a significant role in the growth of future ethnic performers and musicians.
The Philippine American Cultural Foundation (PACF) Community Center – 3 N. Lombard Road, Box 466, Addison, Illinois
This examiner visited an ethnic community center located in Addison, IL to attend what was billed as a cultural workshop, one of many held throughout the year in various locations under the wings of Hawak-Kamay Filipino-American Performing Arts. Children of various ages interact with peers, counselors and mentors most of whom are parents, grandparents or relatives who are Filipino-American parents living in southwest Chicago suburbs. Hawak-Kamay operates as a cultural unit under the umbrella of PACF. In these workshops, as what occurred during this examiner’s first such exposure to PACF community center’s premises and goings-on, these children are holed up in a room with adequate lighting and audio-visual equipment to talk freely about Filipiniana. Interspersed between readings of interesting book excerpts, a hugely significant topic is agreed to be discussed for some 15-20 minutes in separate sub-groups with section leaders responsible for exhorting their wards to think and strike consensus positions on what their topic report would be. The various sections are called back in to present their reports. This report session is when random thoughts are craftily reshaped into crystal ideas by a team of excellent moderators, enabling children to see first-hand on a laptop-fed large monitor how their thoughts are given so much attention, their ideas so well appreciated. A “crazy” idea as an ambitious field trip to Manila for a Hawak-Kamay cultural show transforms into a doable project with kids and parents who watch the Oprah show and see a light bulb pop up.
This Examiner, escorted around the community center by Ruben Salazar who acts as a workshop moderator, met some of the PACF directors and even got to chat with the PACF lady president, Adeline Fajardo, who owns the bragging rights to that pasta superdish that was with the sumptuous merienda everybody had. Introduction to new dance instructors and rondalla leads who will be working with these children were made and it was that easy to get commitments from these volunteer mentors. One cannot ignore the potential of an enthusiastic youth group that now appreciates their ethnicity and are proud to be part of a cultural team like Hawak-Kamay. More on PACF and like venues in subsequent articles. See photoslide for glimpses of various activities that happen at the PACF community center and elsewhere during non-frigid climes.