Creative Kernow, based at Krowji, is the creative and cultural support organisation for the following nine projects. Together we support the production, promotion and distribution of work by creative practitioners in Cornwall because we believe in creativity's transformative power and want more people to benefit from it.

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Harmonising Across Borders: Reflections on the TK Music Lab finale in Cornwall

Carn to Cove Director Claire Marshall reflects on TK Music Lab, a musical exchange project with Music Hub in Sibiu, Romania.

Last Wednesday afternoon, the team of nine young musicians arrived from Romania for a three-day visit to meet and work with their Cornish equivalents to learn each other’s music and create a new piece for a joint performance to take place on Saturday night. Our British Council funded project was reaching it’s conclusion!

Kernow a’gas dynergh / Welcome to Cornwall! Claire meets our friends, the musicians from Music Hub in Sibiu, Romania at Redruth train station. Photo: Silvia Paizan

The two groups had not met before but within minutes of starting the music session on the first day, were getting down to the business of composing and playing together – not to mention sharing food and exploring the setting of the Sky Barn at Chyan Cultural Centre, near Penryn.

One of the outcomes for the Music Hub team from Romania was to experience cultural activities in a rural setting, so we put them up in a tiny village. The Chyan site is carbon neutral, so heating was provided by a wood-burning stove, the facilities were composting toilets and the water was sourced from a shared point on the site. Added to this, the excitement of travelling the Cornish lanes in a 17-seater minibus, and the rural experience was complete!

As well as working hard on the music composition during the days, the group of young people were busy in the evenings. They were invited to join the Sing Truro Choir run by composer and the project’s music leader Matthew Thomason on Thursday night. Their performance appetite was whetted at the Old Bakery, so we ended up in a pub in Truro where they were able to try out a Cornish beer, and performed a couple of songs at the Open Mic night at the Old Ale House. It was a great set and the audience really enjoyed their versions of the Romanian tune Praf de Stele by Vita de Vie and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain?’

Apart from the live performance, one tangible outcome from the project was a zine that was produced by Silvia Paizan, one of the Music Hub leaders. She designed and printed the zine in Sibiu and all the participants were presented with a copy when they got together. On Friday night, the group attended the Krowji Supper to meet the Creative Kernow team and the artists who are based on the site and made their own zines in a workshop lead by Vicki Aimers. It was a completely different style, but they had a great time.

Zine making with Vicki Aimers at the Krowji Winter Supper. Photo: Krowji

Swimming in the sea, eating a pasty, fish ‘n’ chips and having a cream tea were all on the list of activity requests we had when the group arrived, and we fulfilled all of these on Saturday when we headed to Falmouth – firstly to Gyllyngvase beach, followed by a walk through town to have lunch and buy some souvenirs.

Soaking up the sun on Gyllyngvase beach. Photo: Mircea Gherman

Then it was time to go to Truro School’s Chapel for the final rehearsal and to prep for the performance. Matthew Thomason had organised a fabulous evening with his own music, plus a solo slot from Martin Skews, a local musician who has previously worked with Rogue Theatre, with an audience of around 130 people. Ryan Jones did a fantastic job with the sound recording and filming – watch this space to see the final product.

The TK Music Lab ensemble, with musicians from Romania and Cornwall, perform on stage for the first time at Truro School Chapel. Photo: Mircea Gherman

The TK Music Lab Ensemble took to the stage to end the evening and performed all three pieces of music that they had composed – and received a standing ovation from the whole audience. It was a beautiful moment and a perfect way to end the week. Although technically the end of the project, it really feels like we are only just getting going, and there is more work to do, music to create and relationships to develop.

So now we must take some time to work out how to make that happen. And with the great team of people that we have – it won’t take long!

Find out more about TK Music Lab on our project page.

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