Over the years, taking us far and wide, this project and has brought us into contact with many wonderful artists with a refugee background, from Afghan santur player Ebrahim Mohammadi (who we filmed in Portugal, where he now lives) to the folks behind Germany’s RapfugeeCamp and organisations such as the Journeys Festival (with our Sounds of Sanctuary project).
So it was a real privilege to be asked to perform at the Bristol Refugee Festival 2024 fundraiser and in fact take Orchestra of Samples to Bristol for the first time.
Founded in 2005, the festival takes place every June during the UK’s Refugee Week. The festival also coordinates a collaborative year-round programme of arts and educational events, bringing together communities across Bristol and beyond. We’d been introduced to them by London based Counterpoints Arts (the organisation behind the UK’s Refugee Week) whose core belief is that arts can inspire social change and enhance cultural integration; which it definitely can and certainly does and why funding arts is so important.
In turn, the festival – asking us to perform at their event – introduced us to Alphonse Touna, the amazing Cameroonian multi-instrumentalist and frontman of the band Hélélé. Alphonse performed with us, singing and playing guitar and an assortment of percussion including his west African balafon, which he actually built himself. It was a packed and fantastic night at the Bristol city centre venue Strange Brew, close to Castle Park and the canals, other performers included the kora and trumpet duo Bristol Griot and the event was also supported by Bristol’s Lorraine Ayensu Refugee Arts.
With massive thanks to Counterpoints Arts and Bristol Refugee Festival for a fantastic night.