A Sound World: In Conversation with Gerald Seligman
But most importantly, he is an individual driven by genuine passion and inspired by the belief that a better world is within humanity’s reach. A world united instead of segregated by their diversity, where multiculturalism is celebrated and not simply tolerated.
Over the past few weeks, IndiEarth conducted a showcase Call For Artists – inviting musicians to submit their work for the chance to perform at the Borneo World Music Expo. Now, with BWME just around the corner – of which Gerald is the Director – we chatted a bit more with him about the expo, and about the purpose and passion that drives his work.
It would be nice to believe that simple access to others would bring understanding and a measure of enlightenment, but this isn’t so. People in close proximity are often in the greatest conflict. But it is important to expand access to other ideas, other people, other cultures as a way of enriching the dialogue and giving those who can think for themselves more to think about. So, while exposure doesn’t reconcile, it does enrich the cultural and intellectual environment and helps reach those who can be reachable and helps to show the absurdity, not only the harm, of the whole nationalist argument.
But beyond the political and social argument for supporting access to a broad variety of cultures is the sheer awe of what the human family creates, how surprising, how rich, how wonderful it is to be exposed to it. It is this that inspires most of us who work with traditions outside our own cultures – the sheer joy – and it is entirely compatible with that bigger political picture, though not in any way subservient to it.
IndiEarth: As the Director for the Borneo World Music Expo, what is your vision for the conference?
Gerald: It is expensive for artists to travel, and artists, especially new one or ones who haven’t yet performed much outside their own regions, tend to have little money. The development of music Expos and the creation of touring networks has been an astonishing and successful development for the support of music. It very economically gathers together a great concentration of those who perform with those who can provide opportunities to do so.
But most of these markets are in Europe and North America, meaning that artists who live adjacently find it more affordable to come showcase. Those in Africa, the Caribbean and South America, for instance travel up to join their European and North American colleagues more easily. Since fewer of these Expos are in Asia, artists from the greater Asian region appear on the international circuit less frequently. It was time for this successful system for introducing artists to establish events in Asia to begin tapping into music scenes that are every bit as diverse, appealing and worthy of support as the scenes that have already made it into the world music scene.
IndiEarth: What scope do you see for the future of the Asian music market – in terms of cross cultural collaborations and its future as an emerging music market?
Gerald: As anyone familiar with the variety of music from Asia knows, it is only access and expense that has kept so much of the best of if from being exposed to broader international audiences. The potential is as great as the countless traditions that exist in these regions — huge.