Tag Archive | "Latin America"

Musical group promotes peace mission

Photo courtesy of flickr/Bruno Lucattelli

From Africa to Latin America to Butler University, Playing for Change uses the universal language of music to transcend cultural boundaries and promote peace in a world full of people eager to sing the same song.

The Playing for Change Foundation started a decade ago when documentary filmmakers forged into the poverty stricken areas of the world to capture the lives of street musicians.

The YouTube videos of the Playing for Change musicians inspired Clowes Memorial Hall to request a performance in Indianapolis.

Director of marketing for Clowes Hall Joshua Lingenfelter said it was impossible to ignore the musical group’s strong presence on YouTube, which has more than 39 million views and the positive message that the group conveys to audiences.

Playing for Change will perform on Friday at 8 p.m. at Clowes Memorial Hall.

“Playing for Change doesn’t do it for the money but for the purpose of fundraising to build schools for music,” Lingenfelter said. “It’s the mission that Clowes also adopts to continue arts and music education.”

The Playing for Change mission began as a method to spread the benefits of music to less fortunate people who weren’t afforded the opportunity to learn and understand it.  After the foundation began traveling worldwide, it became obvious that musical education was only one note in the composition that comprised Playing for Change.

Lingenfelter said the effect of Playing for Change is overwhelming when popular songs the majority of people know are played worldwide by people of different cultures and backgrounds using their own native instruments.

Political science Professor Craig Auchter has also found inspiration in the Playing for Change movement.  He began showing the YouTube videos in his political science senior seminar.

Auchter said his class talks in depth about peace and social justice, so the theme of Playing for Change fits perfectly in his curriculum.
Auchter said Playing for Change isn’t solely about the talent of unknown singers and musicians.  The foundation makes more of a social statement than a musical one.

“Just as people walk by musicians on the street, we will figuratively walk by the problems in the world,” Auchter said. “The music helps us to remember to pause and pay attention to the world we live in.”

Auchter said the songs not only inspire people to work for change, but they inspire people to work together.  He said each song is a powerful example of how music can unite the world.

“No one of us can do everything, but everyone of us can do something,” said Auchter.

Senior philosophy major Kinsey Bussell is currently in Auchter’s class in which the topic of Playing for Change was discussed.

Bussell said the class was learning about intercultural dialogue, and Playing for Change did an exemplary job of showing that dialogue through music around the world.

Like Auchter, Bussell said the encouraging message of Playing for Change teaches people to stop and listen to the world around them instead of casually walking by in ignorance.

Lingenfelter said the performance is expected to bring in a very diverse audience featuring many different cultures and ages.  So far the show has sold about 700 tickets, but Lingenfelter said he expects that number to hit 1,000 tickets by the performance date.

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Holiday invites students to a diverse celebration

Photo by MCT

With the Latin American holiday of El Dia de los Muertos fast approaching, some Butler University students and Indianapolis institutions are preparing to celebrate the cultural heritage of Central Indiana’s Latino population.

El Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is a Mexican tradition that is celebrated in multiple forms across most of Latin America.

The celebration takes place on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, and, like All Soul’s Day, is held to bring the living closer to the memories of the deceased.

Junior biology major Kelsey Coy, president of Latinos Unidos, said that cultural events like this celebration are important for the Latino community as a way to preserve their vibrant heritage.

For students who are unfamiliar with this culture, Coy also said that the events  give you a window into the lives of Latinos in Indianapolis.

For the past 10 years the Indianapolis Art Center has been hosting a program for El Dia de los Muertos in order, according to its website, to “engage [Indianapolis] through a celebration of culture and tradition.”

This year the art center’s event takes place  Oct. 29 from noon to 5 p.m.

Butler University Residence Life is transporting students to and from the event, which is free.

More information can be found on Residence Life’s Facebook page about the event, “Dia de los Muertos!”

While All Soul’s Day is a day of passive remembrance, the Day of the Dead celebrations are vibrant and active.

Children craft altars and shrines for dead relatives, families make skeleton-shaped treats and communities gather for dancing and music.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 Census, almost 10 percent of the population of Marion County identifies themselves as Hispanic or Latino.

Coy attributed the data to the fact that Indianapolis offers many job opportunities and an accepting culture.

The Indianapolis Art Center’s Day of the Dead programming is an example of this acceptance.

“You can find celebrations of Dia de los Muertos in larger cities like Chicago and in many communities in the Southwest,” said Michelle Gunter, director of the Art Center. “It’s not as common here in the Midwest, so our celebration is really something for Indianapolis to be proud of.”

Coy said that while Butler itself is not very diverse—12 percent of freshmen in 2010 identified with being any ethnicity other than white, according to Butler’s Cooperative Institutional Research Program Freshman Survey— being attuned to other cultures is extremely important.

Coy said she hopes Latinos Unidos and local events such as the Dia de los Muertos celebration at the Indianapolis Art Center and FIESTA Indianapolis will encourage Butler students to be more involved in National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is going on right now.

Butler’s website said Latinos Unidos’ goal is to create awareness of Latino culture by getting students involved in social, educational, political and community outreach.

“There’s something very interesting happening here in Indianapolis,” Gunter said, “a blending of centuries-old traditions with new artistic interpretations of those traditions.”

For more information about joining Latinos Unidos, contact Coy at kccoy@butler.edu. The group is also sponsoring a speaker, Priscilla Ruiz Guillen, in Jordan Hall 141 at 7 p.m. today.

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