“I Have a Dream” for a SI National Youth Orchestra

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DEAR EDITOR,

In the United States in 1963, Dr Martin Luther King said, “I Have a Dream” during a speech he gave to an American civil rights gathering in Washington.

I too have a dream to encourage the formation and deliverance of a National Youth Orchestra in the Solomon Islands.

It is an idea I have very much had in mind for the past 20 years since I served as the local Police Commissioner and came to understand the talents and affinity of Solomon Islanders with music as part of their culture and tradition.

I know that Solomon Islanders music traditionally involves using percussion instruments, panpipes and flutes and various other homemade instruments.

Men often play ‘mouth bows’, using their mouths and a taunt plant fibre (now plastic fishing line), to create a harmonic effect. Large and small slit-drums are made from hollowed tree trunks, and can be used to send massages as well as for music.

In more recent years, the most ubiquitous modern music has been by string bands and panpipe dance groups.

The panpipes originally used a different tonal scale than European music, but this was modernized during the 1960s and 1970s.

Percussion orchestras play large bamboo or polythene pipes constructed of different lengths and sizes and struck with rubber thongs, often accompanying panpipes.

A unique musical, cultural talent that must never be lost.

I once invited youths to come to the Rove Police headquarters to receive training in music from the members of the Royal Solomon Islands Police band and was taken aback by the huge numbers of young people, both boys and girls, and some not so young, who descended on Rove to get help to improve their musical skills.

The training got off the ground but came to a premature close when civil disturbances saw the members of the police band deployed on guarding major strategic locations in and around Honiara as militant activities began threatening such public installations.

In those early years the police band was most often deployed in support of community policing and the members greatly contributed to the early acceptance and success of community policing initiatives that I first instituted in 1997.

Such is the background as to why I would like to fulfill my dream but today coupled with the realization that many young people are unemployed and I feel sure crave for a sense of belonging and have the need to contribute to society in a positive way.

I would dearly like to help the many talented young people find a communal sense of purpose and instill in them a renewable of pride and national identity, so often lacking and generally only witnessed by sporting achievements and prowess on the field.

In recent weeks, I was in contact with a group of highly skilled, talented and widely courted musicians in the United Kingdom with strong ties with the Commonwealth Secretariat, based in London.

To cut a long story short, this group has learned of my long held ‘dream’ to see the creation of a National Youth Orchestra in the Solomon Islands and has offered to be of considerable help in getting my idea off the ground.

It has been suggested that the group would be willing to host fund raising concerts in the UK to help cover the acquisition of any instruments needed by a local orchestra, should the youths not have any of their own.

Fund raising would also be a means of covering the expenses of the group of 5 musicians to come out to the Solomon Islands and to undertake music lessons and training to give a kick start to a local youth orchestra.

After waiting for so many years for the kind of support that now seems to be possible to pursue my desire to see the creation of a truly home grown youth orchestra, I can’t wait to get the same degree of encouragement from the SIG ministries and others most closely involved in youth affairs, culture and tourism.

In the meantime, I would really welcome reader’s views, comments and suggestions on what I have outlined. I can be contacted via the link provided in my website – www. solomonislandsinfocus.com.

I will end by referring you to the website of the UK musicians willing to go out of their way to help the Solomon Islands and especially the youth.

https://www. thedionysusensemble.com/

Yours sincerely

FRANK SHORT

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