Saturday, November 01, 2008

Terra Musica

Music was everywhere at Terra Madre... They appeared now and then in the marketplace area, and there was a program over five days featuring some 48 groups, 216 musicians, performing on four stages around Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto.

The closing ceremonies were awesome and mostly about music. But not entirely. First, there were speeches. The first was by Maori educator Heeni Hoterene, who spoke about environmental concerns in New Zealand, which so many of us had supposed and hoped might be in better shape than elsewhere. But she named the dairy industry as a large polluter and mourned the poisoning of fresh and saltwater, the loss of indigenous land through legislation and seizure.

A less compelling performance by Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini, who made his appearance on a prerecorded, rather surreal projection which we were promised would last for 1000 seconds (but - said the announcer - you should really listen closely to the last 150!). Predictably the overwhelmingly young gathering (this year was a major tribute to Terra Madre's youth movement) got bored, and at the mention of G8 (which Italy chairs this year) the boredom turned to contempt. There was whistling, stomping, slow hand-clapping; people stood up and put their backs to the screen. The audience drowned out the speech and the translations, so we heard little of what was said.

Next up was mighty Carlo Petrini. He said he understood the audience's impatience. The man had spoken too long, because he's a politician, and that's what politicians do. But, he said, you didn't listen! You must learn to listen: you must listen particularly to people whose views you don't like, to people you disagree with. Because, he said, you didn't hear what he just said to you. He's invited Terra Madre to make a delegation to present to the G8 when they meet in Italy! This is unprecedented. Imagine, he said, making her laugh in the front row, what will happen when Vandana Shiva gets up to speak to the G8! The crowd was delighted, of course, and reprimanded and forgiven by father Slow Food, was ready to party after that. And now, said Petrini, I give you the sons of farmers.

And the daughters too: the ladies of Senegal were fabulous in their dancing, gourd-drumming and amazing head-scarves.

A Belorussian duo... There were as well Ethiopian trumpeters (if that is the word), Pugliese dancers, some astonishing music and dancing from Kamchadal, unbelievable accordion playing by Italian Raffaele Pinelli and others from Brazil and Italy. Phew.

Everybody all together for the grand finale.

And all too soon, it was time to go home...


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