November 30, 2018
The Cultural Studies Program welcomed members from the KUNÉ – Canada’s Global Orchestra to Queen’s University on Nov. 7th. Hannah Burgé Luviano, a PhD candidate in the program, opened “Culture, Music and Diplomacy” –briefly explaining KUNÉ’s history and introducing Director Mervon Mehta to the audience. Mehta, Executive Director of Performing Arts for the Royal Conservatory, began the conversation by describing the orchestra’s creation and development over the past couple of years. He shared insights into the audition and selection processes, and how the orchestras aimed at bringing “curious musical minds’’ together who can play with people outside of their own musical and cultural tradition. “We wanted to have something that we see on subway every day – people from all nationalities, from different musical traditions, immigrants, men, women… a band that looks like Canada today.’’
Following Mehta at the podium, Paco Luviano, KUNÉ ‘s bassist, and son of the legendary Mexican jazz musician, Macario Luviano, explained how 12 musicians from 12 different countries and one musical director from the United States worked together to create a common musical melody . “The cohesiveness of being together in one space is in the melody.’’ Luviano described how band members came together, shared their personal stories and melodies, and turned these into a common language that dissolved cultural barriers. The workshop concluded with consideration of the implications of KUNÉ’s success for the projection of Canada’s image abroad. “It is in the title –Canada’s Global Orchestra, it embodies and represents a pluralistic and culturally diverse image of Canada” Mehta noted as he discussed KUNÉ’s upcoming tour to the United States in 2019 and 2020 and interest in the orchestra from abroad.
Hannah Burgé Luviano has observed the process of the band’s formation, spent time talking with its members and with Mehta, and felt strongly that the scope of the project warranted academic attention. To that end, she has presented on the group at the University of Guelph, International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, and at the 2019 Society for Ethnomusicology General Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
A blog from Burgé Luviano on her work with KUNÉ is coming soon!
By: Simge Erdogan with support from Hannah Burgé Luviano