For two years I lived
in Yangon, studying Burmese traditional music and teaching classical flute at
the Gitameit Music Center,
a private school founded by the American pianist Kit Young in 2003. I returned
to Berlin in
December 2007 to finish my masters in Musicology and Southeast Asian Studies.
My friends, former colleagues, and students all tell me that Yangon, the old
capital, is widely devastated and that the fertile delta of the Irrawaddy River is still flooded.
Villages and towns have been erased. Dead bodies are now floating in the area where most of the country's rice was grown. A famine is expected in the next few weeks. Epidemic diseases are likely to spread. Millions of people are without shelter and the rainy season is about to begin. Unofficial but credible estimates from the capital Yangon say that the cyclone has caused more death and homelessness in Myanmar than the 2004 Tsunami did in Indonesia.
My friends at the
Gitameit music school are currently providing first-aid supplies to severely
effected neighborhoods of Yangon. They deliver
water and water filters, food and gasoline for generators. By providing
disinfectants and medicine for the wounded, they are also trying to prevent the
outbreak of disease. They are working hand in hand with local monasteries,
doctors, and nurses.
Gitameit operates with an established network of relief agencies in Myanmar that channels money from abroad directly to them. The latest information on their relief efforts is posted on the homepage: www.Gitameit.org
At the top of the page are links for donations to these organizations,
which provide help more quickly than many large international aid organizations
that can hardly get their staff into Myanmar, face many governmental
restrictions, and are also closely monitored by the military regime. The first
link directs to the Foundation for the People of Burma (FPB), which has been a partner
of Gitameit for a long time.
Members of the Atlantic Community recognize that the transatlantic agenda is global and that this agenda is pursued not only by governments but also by citizens in North America and Europe. Helping the Gitameit Music Center, founded by an American pianist and supported by the German embassy as well as Austrian and German musicians, is an opportunity to put this conviction into action.
The above video
shows the Gitameit choir performing J.S.Bach's "Gottes Zeit ist die
allerbeste Zeit, actus tragicus." Bringing Western classical music to Burma and Burmese music to North America and Europe is part of Gitameit's mission. Gitameit Music
Center aims to build a
supportive community of musicians and audiences locally, and to encourage
sustained, meaningful contact with international institutions, teachers and
performers. Gitameit Music Center is a non-profit community center and music
school in Yangon devoted to music teaching & nurturing, performing,
offering exchange possibilities for Burmese students to study abroad, and
inviting international artists & teachers for performances and workshops
from Asian and western countries.
Daphne Wolf is a graduate student of Musicology and Southeast Asian Studies at Humboldt University, Berlin. She studied Burmese traditional music at the University of Culture and Gitameit Music Center in Yangon from October 2005 until December 2007.