Thursday, 14 May 2015

Music Lovers, Is This Your Tribe?

Chin Injeti, Tonye Aganaba, Colleen Rennison

Thanks to my friends who came out last night to support my new favourite charity, Instruments Beyond Borders. A women in front of us summed up the evening perfectly when she said, “The only thing wrong with tonight was that it had to end.” We all agreed, but this morning my opinion has changed; it's a good thing that the concert ended. While we could have stayed there indefinitely, that was not the purpose of the evening. The purpose of the evening was to fill our hearts with music, and to inspire us to share with others. That purpose could only be achieved if we got out of our seats and back into the world where the message about Instruments Beyond Borders still needs to be heard. Their work providing funds and instruments to groups like the The Saint James Music Society and the Landfill Harmonic Orchestra of Cateura Paraguay is inspirational and heart-warming.

There were many generous hearts in the Fei & Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at SFU Woodward's last night. The sold-out event attracted some of Vancouver's top entrepreneurs and philanthropists; in this city there is a strong correlation between success in business and success in supporting great causes. Finding creative ways to weave business and charity together is part of the fabric of Vancouver's economy, and it's something I'm proud to support. Notables in the “Big Band Circle of Donors” included:

Peter Brown, Samir Manji (Amica), Steve Curtis, (ZAG Group), Garry Zlotnik (ZLC Financial), Erez Behar, (Davidson & Co.) Manny Padda, Shafin Diamond, Theo Sanidas, Praveen Varshney, (Mogo Financial) Murray Leith, Marina Newson, and Marcello Leone, (RYU). Community Partners included: SFU Woodward's, Prussin Music, Moksha Yoga Vancouver, Float House, M&R Environmental, and the Ben and Esther Dayson Charitable Foundation.

As Georgia O’Keeffe said, “To create one's world in any of the arts takes courage”. If you wonder how an organization as young as IBB pulled off such an extraordinary event and attracted so much support, it's because they had the courage to do so. They see the world as it is, and despite that, do not lose sight of the vision for what it could be. They are creating a world where children are given musical instruments; instead of a world where they fashion them out of the garbage we throw away. They are creating a world where inner city kids stand on stage with world class professionals wielding violin bows; instead of on the corner with gangs wielding guns. They are creating a world where what we earn grows from what we give; a world where politics, race, religion, and nationality are not boundaries that divide us, but borders we go beyond thanks to the transcendent power of music. Why are they able to achieve so much? My firm belief is because they bothered to try. They didn't sit around lamenting what couldn't be done, they got together and did what they could. Thanks to the generosity of last night's attendees and the organizers who brought them together, today they will be able to do a little more, and tomorrow more than that.
Lynn Colliar with Dan Payne holding a violin made from recycled materials

Good humour to get the audience going and keep the program on track was supplied by Lynn Colliar and Dan Payne, who introduced an amazing lineup of musical guests. Among these were: Ryan Guldemond, Jasmin Parkin, Tonye Aganaba, and Colleen Rennison, all of whom jammed with Chin Injeti, winner of three Grammies and two Junos. The evening also included the St. James Music Academy Senior Orchestra, Van Djano and the Borealis String Quartet. Cameron Wilson performed with Vancouver Kingsway MP Don Davies.

Cameron Wilson and Don Davies

The only “off colour joke” came during this set; and by “off colour” I mean it was a reference to a political colour not ordinarily found in my inkwell. While I do not normally wave “the Orange flag”, I was clapping loudly at Davies' entertaining performance, and today commend him for his support of this cause. Davies' inspiring performance causes me to send out a challenge to all MP's to get behind Instruments Beyond Borders; especially those who could join in on stage. Don Davies, perhaps next year you might consider a violin and piano performance? If so, there might be another politician willing to join you (stage right of course). Might I also suggest that a bit of the “Blues” be added to the program? As I said IBB inspires people from all walks of life and across the political spectrum; thanks for sharing the spotlight next year with any politicians willing to join in.

While unable to attend, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson sent a video message of support as did Bramwell Tovey of the VSO. I'm so glad to know IBB has such support in this city. The event struck the perfect balance between a top rate performance and a casual kitchen party, where music flows spontaneously among friends. Among my friends in the audience I was pleased to welcome Shastine Hudson and Natalie Sonnen (Director of Life Canada).

This year I've been blessed many times to be invited to work on music projects with some amazingly talented musicians; the happiest messages I get in my inbox are those containing audio files from musicians who have set my lyrics to the their work. There is something wonderful about creating a work that blends another person's talents with one's own; when we learn the skills to collaborate in music, we learn the skills to collaborate in life. IBB is not just giving children instruments, they are giving them a life.

As I looked around the audience last night I thought: “This is my tribe.” These are the people who understand the importance children, the power of music, the tools of business, and the perennial need each generation has to collaborate to improve the world they inherited, so that it might be better when they pass it on to the next generation. These are the people who transcend boundaries to get done the jobs worth doing. If you have similar values and a willingness to contribute to this tribe, consider this your invitation do so.

Please check out for ways you might lend your support.

Ryan Guldemond, Chin Injeti, Tonye Aganaba Jammin' for IBB
proudly supports Instruments Beyond Borders.

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