Stories of the World: Cultural Olympiad Sounds Global at the National Museum of Scotland

By Ben Miller | 01 August 2012
A photo of a young female musician with a fringe of dark hair against a red background
Valentina Montoya Martinez's father was one of an estimated 30,000 Chilean refugees© Paul Riddle
Cultural Olympiad 2012: Stories of the World: Sounds Global, National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, until September 30 2012

The mbira, a set of metal keys on a wooden board which had passed through five generations of Zimbabwean musicians Tawona and Ernest Sitholé’s families, was also an instrument liable to bring about their untimely demise.

A symbol of cultural identity banned before Zimbabwe regained independence in 1980, its players were frequently hanged for the crime of sounding a few notes.

Decades on, the pair tell their story as part of an inspirational show in Edinburgh showing the extreme side of music’s capacity to save and rejuvenate lives.

The line-up also stars Jethro Kinavuidi, who fled the Democratic Republic of Congo after being persecuted for his political opinions in 2008. His song, Thank-you Glasgow, is a tribute to one of Britain’s most musically-aware cities which can lay more claim than most to the term heartfelt.

A photo of a man playing a guitar and singing on grey steps leading to an urban building
Jethro Kinavuidi performs with steps© Peter Iain Campbell
And Valentina Montoya Martinez, who spent her youth watching Chilean and Uruguayan refugees relieve the trauma of exile through music, now inspires others to use their freedom and knock out a tune or two.

“Our volunteers have worked over many months to help create a moving and personal exhibition,” says the museum’s Laura Bennison, who helped seven new curators through the “complex process” of devising an exhibition from scratch, producing uplifting tales based around these contemporary artists.

“It reflects the vitality and diversity of Scotland’s music scene as well as the way music can change lives.”

Experimental vocalist Soom T joins in, as do Jay and Lu Angel, two performers whose G-Code Project has driven ten young people to record hip-hop, rap and urban-influenced recordings at the North Edinburgh Arts Centre.

  • Open 10am-5pm. Admission free.

Watch a video about the show:

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