It all started when Paul Moore, a famous English ukulele player who lives in Israel, founder of the “Ukuleles for Peace” project, came to visit the residents of the “Arcobaleno” centre, situated in Borgotaro. This project, born in Jerusalem, is dedicated to promoting peaceful cohabitation between children of Jewish and Palestinian origin and their families. Moore has one ambitious dream: using music as a potent instrument of peace, as a means to cross social bridges in order to create meeting points and friendship – a means of making a change. He had already involved two pilot schools in Israel in this scheme, but now he wanted Italy, with its proverbial love for music, to join in too.
The “Arcobaleno” association caters for people with special needs, giving them the necessary support and attention, and offering activities which revolve around the particular capabilities and personalities of each member of this little community. Many disabled people have found a little haven in this centre with its qualified educators, who, as well as taking excellent care of their “patients”, also allow a little peace of mind to parents and relations.
So the question is – why did Paul Moore choose to involve Borgotaro in his project? Dr Mauro Bernardi, a highly respected ear, nose and throat specialist from Borgotaro, who has been a volunteer in the centre for some time, told us this cute little story; Moore was at Sarzana (not far from here), whilst participating in an international guitar meeting, and he decided to take advantage of the proximity to our area, to come and visit the place of birth of his grandmother – Tiedoli. He calls her “me nuneina piceina”, which in the dialect of the area means “my little granny”! And, as so often happens, once confronted with the magnificent sight of our beautiful valleys, he obviously (yes, obviously!)…….fell madly in love!
And so it was that Paul Moore arrived at the “Arcobaleno” centre in Borgotaro, armed with his love for music and his joviality; he spent his visit playing the guitar and singing with the residents, and it immediately became apparent, thanks to their great participation and enthusiasm, that they were thoroughly enjoying the new experience. Moore then took his leave, but did not forget; a few months passed, and one day, a large package was delivered to the centre, much to the surprise of all. On opening the box, the carers were amazed to discover that it contained 5 colorful ukuleles, sent by Paul himself!
Dr Bernardi realized that a wonderful opportunity had just been awarded to these people; the ukulele is a small, manageable instrument, pleasant to the eye, easy and enjoyable to play. It has a bright, crystal-clear sound which is well-suited to accompany any kind of song. The doctor envisaged a way of developing talent through music, and set about forming a little band amongst his special people – a band which is currently included in the “Ukuleles for Peace” project.
Ukulele sessions are now held at the centre every Friday morning from 10.30 to 11.30, and the excited “students” very rapidly learned to play in the key of do (C), the simplest way, each contributing with his/her own rhythm. With time, the band was awarded a precious addition, when 15 year-old Samuele (not a resident) decided to join in, just for the fun of it; some players decided to try their hand with other instruments, such as the drums, or the keyboard. Some are perfecting their singing, whilst others have found very personal ways of playing their mini guitar…..each one of them expressing emotions as only they can.
There have already been several concerts in different occasions; at Christmas in an old peoples’ home of the area; at the spring concert at Albareto; at the Farnese Cinema during a concert benefiting the “Arcobaleno” association itself. This year the Ukulele Band celebrated carnival at the old peoples’ home of Borgotaro, alongside the Gruppo Mandolinistico Borgotarese, a group of mandolin players, involving the spectators in songs and dance.
In June, they will be special guests at the yearly concert of choir music of a local formation – Coro Voci Della Val Gotra. Since Dr Bernardi admirably puts so much effort into guiding this group of special people, it was decided to have them open the concert, called “Cantoincanto”, in order to show off their passionate playing to the other guest choirs, who will be coming from afar….
All we can say is…..way to go!