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SONGBIRDS chirp in the nearby trees as the gentle breeze carries the distinct sound of a guitar being strummed slowly, sensuously. Not far away, the distant gurgle of the running creek and the occasional hoot of a monkey, add an exotic flavour.
The images of paradise? Not exactly.
It’s the kind of ambiance BWIA and Le Meridien Pegasus have in mind for a workshop international musician, Corey Harris, will hold in August. To this end, they have chosen the Timberhead Rainforest Resort in Guyana’s lush rainforest for the site of the workshop which is expected to attract not only Guyanese musicians, but those from the Caribbean and further afield.
Timberhead touted as ‘A Paradise in Guyana for anyone who loves nature’, is located some 15 miles from Georgetown. It overlooks the savannah bordering the Pokerero Creek and is surrounded by rainforest. It was built in 1991 by Amerindians from the nearby village of Santa Mission. It was constructed entirely from local materials as a retreat and is described as a retreat from life’s hectic pace. In its relatively short history, it has hosted British royalty and a past president of the United States.
Le Meridien General Manager, Mr. Olivier Trinquand and BWIA Area Manager, Carlton Defour, are key players in the endeavour. At a press conference with Harris last week at Le Meridien Pegasus, Defour stated that BWIA will always be disposed to facilitating the promotion of music across the Caribbean. According to Trinquand, the workshop is an innovative one that involves the promotion of eco-tourism.
Trinquand said that the idea emerged after Harris and a team visited the Timberhead Resort. It rained constantly, he recalled, and, instead of being outdoors soaking up nature, they were forced to remain indoors. It was during that time that Harris picked up his guitar and began strumming. His smooth voice, the pounding rain and the strumming guitar proved to be a powerful combination. The team, he said, was moved to share that moment with others, and, after a brief discussion, it was decided that they would return and bring young aspiring musicians for a time of relaxation and training.
At the press conference, Harris, an American, explained that the main objective of the workshop at Timberhead is to get the musicians away from all the distractions around them, and usher them into a relaxed environment. Harris has conducted workshops in his homeland, but expects the Timberhead sessions to be different because of the location.
Only about 15 musicians will be accommodated, Harris said, since the class must be small so that he could devote quality time to each participant. He anticipates that participants would range from those in their late teens and older.
****By the end of the sessions, they will develop new styles and techniques, he promised. Doing traditional songs, learning simple techniques and basic music theory are among the activities planned. There will also be group discussions, sessions in pairs and special sessions where participants will practise what they have learned, in solitude, but in harmony with nature.
The proposed schedule is:
Day One: Spending the first night at Le Meridien Pegasus getting familiar with each other;
Day Two: Travel to Timberhead;
Days Three to Seven: Workshop in an informal setting with flexible time for sessions, time for relaxing and also practice;
Day Eight: Travel from Timberhead to Pegasus for a special concert in the evening to be hosted by Mr. Harris and students;
Day Nine: Overseas participants will be transported to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri, while local musicians will head to their respective destinations.
Harris has performed here before. His most recent performance was at the residence of the United States Ambassador to Guyana at a function to mark Black American History Month.
The organisers are still working out details such as the exact date of the workshop and the cost participants must bear. However, interested musicians are urged to register at Le Meridien Pegasus. (Shirwin Campbell)