The Cross Cultural Brass Band Collaboration (CCBC) set out to engage with the unique repertoire of inspired songs of the FAKI (Fanfare Kimbunguist) Brass Band of the Kimbunguist Church outside Kinshasa. Led by Trevor Smith, a musician and music educator, and Simon Bazeyedio, a Congolese trumpet player who was raised within the Kimbunguist Church, the project received ANT Mobility support in 2020 but had to be adapted due to the pandemic. While the initial plan of the two musicians travelling to the DR Congo could not take place, the music still managed to travel across borders. The FAKI repertoire was transcribed by Simon from recordings, notated and then performed by Brass Roots, a South African brass band formed for the development of emerging young brass players.
In terms of personal development (management and administrative) I have learned that there is always a way. People are more eager to be a part of something, and offer assistance and guidance when asked – they want you to succeed. In terms of project management I re-learned in a deeper and more extensive way that you cannot ‘control’ situations but you can manage situations; and many times that means stepping back so that you can see it slowly and clearly before making a decision. One cannot force an outcome; especially within a distance-relational context between two countries while working in isolation; you work with and engage with what comes to you. This has further encouraged me to pursue further outreach and collaborative opportunities.
For my colleague and closest friend, Simon Bazeyidio, he realised that he was no longer a ‘foreigner’ but a collaborative catalyst between the two countries of South Africa and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). His ability to diligently score and capture the spirit of his country for performance by local musicians was exemplified in the outcome. He has been so greatly encouraged artistically and his new goal is to score a full album of music from his small community to be further recorded and shared.
For the local South African musicians I believe they understood the collaborative opportunity and power within what may seem to them a ‘simple’ and nonconsequential thing of learning an instrument – they engaged in a cross-cultural performance, a sharing of spirit and a sharing of themselves by immersing themselves in the score. They will have touched the hearts of their local culture and those within another through their simple humbleness to be a part of something and use their gifts to both be challenged and share.
In terms of audio recording, video footage and editing – I have grown in my knowledge of possibility. And most important in the realisation of the power of collaboration; not only in working in isolation with another country, but in collaboration with local artists and individuals.
This opportunity has enabled me to widen my network connections to the Brass Band Association of South Africa; Brass Roots Youth Development Band; and encourage a deeper relationship with FAKI Brass Band through the work of Simon Bazeyidio as colleague and arranger. New opportunities, future plans and initiatives generated through the project are the possibility of scoring a full album of music from Nkamba, DRC with documented video production, as well as developing the relationship initiated between the FAKI Brass Band of DRC and the local youth development band (Brass Roots) in South Africa.