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Sarah Pickstone FRSA explores the ideas behind European Youth Music Refugee Choirs and European Youth Music Week and explains a new initiative to bring the UK’s young musicians and refugees together for a collaborative week of events.

The refugee crisis has brought many devastating stories of conflict and people fleeing from their homes to seek sanctuary in a new country. The path to being part of a new country is both complicated and difficult. Refugees are moving to England and being immersed in a brand new culture that is often alien to them. They might also have further complications once they're in England, such as where they're living and whether they're living with their own family. 

The European Youth Music Refugee Choirs (EYMRC) aims to provide some relief from these daily troubles that many refugees still face once they move to England. EYMRC will work with 50 young refugees from Leicester, Birmingham and Bristol to perform a specially commissioned piece for choir and symphony orchestra. Within the music, the composer will be sharing poignant stories from refugees from all over the country. To enable the performance to be as high quality as possible, EYMRC aims to send the young refugees on a week-long residential course. This course would run alongside the European Youth Music Week, a structured, yet fun, week that brings young people from across the globe together to spend seven days making music and delving into different cultures. 

The European Youth Music Week was born out of the horrific conflict of the Second World War as a creative way of ensuring the next generation of British and German people wouldn’t repeat the same mistakes. EYMRC hopes to create a similar ethos by placing young refugees and young musicians from non-conflict backgrounds together on a ‘music week’. The musicians on the music course will gain insight into the social issues facing young refugees living in this country, and we hope that this will ensure that they become a voice for their new peers. 

EYMRC is looking to recruit young refugees in Bristol, Leicester and Birmingham, and to work closely with organisations to recruit the participants of the choir. To ensure that the week-long residential course can be run for the refugees, EYMRC has worked with the RSA and Spacehive to launch a crowdfunding page, which goes live on Monday 26 March. Any support from RSA Fellows will be much appreciated. Feel free to get in touch with Sarah Pickstone if you’d like to speak to someone directly.

You can find more about our project on our website, and you can donate to this project on our crowdfunding page.

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