World Heart Beat
Masks for Seeing News

Black History Month – ‘Masks for Seeing’

Black History Month music collaboration…

We are delighted to be marking Black History Month through music, by collaborating with musician Byron Wallen. His project aims to deepen children’s knowledge, perception and value of works of art and music from across Africa.

Byron is widely recognised as a seminal figure in world jazz – he is constantly travelling the world recording, teaching and performing music. His work marries his love of traditional music from around the world, and its fusion with the urban sounds of modern dance music and contemporary classical traditions.   

We feel very fortunate to have Byron in our teaching faculty. Playing trumpet and inspiring an environment of creativity and great music making, Byron gives jazz masterclasses every week to the youth of today. 

World Heart Beat Collaboration with Byron Wallen

In partnership with World Heart Beat and with funding from the Royal Borough of Greenwich, Byron’s ‘Masks for Seeing’ collaboration will present a selection of West African masks and sculptures to Year 5 children in South East London.  

Year 5 Students looking at a West African mask as part of the Black History Month workshop.

These artefacts are part of Byron’s own collection of musical instruments, masks, sculptures and music collected over the last three decades. They provide a keyhole for a deeper understanding of the spiritual, psychological and daily fabric of the society that produced them.   

The children’s research will cement their connection with the chosen artefacts and provide them with the themes they will go onto explore in producing their musical compositions.    

Music and film resource…

In addition to the musical compositions produced, a film will be made of the process creating a legacy for the schools to use. Watch this space to see (and hear) more on Byron’s workshops and compositions!  

More about Byron’s musical journey  

In 1995, Byron made his first trip to South Africa. This led to recordings with Airto Moreira, Moses Mseleku, Amampondo and the seed was sown for a life of musical exploration and travel. He has since collaborated with Manu Dibango, Hugh Masekela, Brice Wassy and Gnawa masters Si Mohammed Chaouqi and Boujemaa Bouboul.  

In 1998 Byron travelled through Uganda studying traditional horn and xylophone music. He made a film documenting his research, and the material he recorded provided inspiration for his music and subsequent releases on his own label Twilight Jaguar. The forthcoming album ‘Nakibembe’ captures East Africa’s pre-eminent xylophone group Embaire in full flight. Byron’s documentary film ‘Travelling’ chronicles his three-month stay in Uganda, with all its trials and tribulations, and are full of amazing music and dance footage.  

Subsequent musical collaborations have taken Byron to Nigeria for special projects such as launching the new British Council building in 2000, and as a featured guest in the 2001 Harare Jazz festival in Zimbabwe.

A personal journey…

He returned to South Africa to appear in the ARTS Alive Earth Summit Festival. Byron also travelled to Belize where he studied and worked with traditional Garifuna musicians. This project, sponsored by the PRS Foundation for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in June 2002, was very personal to Byron as it was his first visit to his parents’ homeland.  

World Heart Beat uses the power of music to inspire, bring people together and make a positive impact

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