Sunday, March 02, 2008

For all mothers on Mother's Day

This is lifted from Karine Polwart's myspace blog With thanks to Karine for the pleasure of reading this and then hearing these women sing. I hope she doesn't mind the cut and paste job.

" as nothing as we are

Why tell our story?

because we have nothing else to leave:
ours is the legacy of women who have fought and cried
worked and suffered
laughed and sung
and always have lived for things that today seem
obvious, granted

Why tell our story?

for our children and other people's children
for music and song to be true to their meaning
and for the words not to get lost in the wind

Why tell our story?

for humbleness, self-sacrifice
for faith in a different world never to leave us
for the conquest of one's own space
for one's own essence not to get lost in the short lived lights of a stage,
an album

Why tell our story?

for the love in our memories to become a reason to fight for the dignity of men
for their ideals
for the sense of justice that we must tend as one would tend a young rice plant

Why tell this story?

because we too,
as small as we are,
as nothing as we are,
are a root of the story of those who will come after us

and we like to think we have not been useless ...

So began one of the most moving musical performances I've ever seen in my life: the Scottish debut, at Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, of the remarkable Coro delle Mondini di Novi di Modena - The Rice Weeders Choir of Modena. Formed originally around a group of women who lived and toiled together on the rural rice fields of northern Italy during the second world war, they sound, even still, many of them into their eighties, like they're singing for their lives, because there was a time when they truly were.

The songs they sing are not only songs of love and longing for the homes from which so many of them were forcibly separated, or swaggering songs of obvious cheek, but also partisan songs, songs of freedom, for many of the women risked their lives in those rice fields in active opposition to the fascism which consumed Italy during the 1940s. And the bonds of friendship they formed with each other in the fields transformed into some of the strongest bonds of the burgeoning Italian labour movement of the day.

Nowadays, the half a dozen or so original choir members are joined on stage by their daughters, the youngest of whom is nearly fifty years old, and they're all dressed up in shorts, shirts, shifts and sunhats, as if to go right out into the fields to weed, but for the shiny pink lycra leggings that hint at the craic they'll be having later on that night at the festival club with a great deal of whisky ...

Even without a word of Italian, none of the joy, sorrow, passion or anger of those songs was lost on the Glasgow audience."

See them sing here.

3 Comments:

Blogger Lucy said...

What a great story, and sounds like a wonderful evening.

7:43 pm  
Blogger PI said...

Very 'Bitter Rice' Marvellous sound.

7:12 pm  
Anonymous Sam, Problemchildbride said...

Thanks for the link, Anna. I thoroughly enjoyed that.

4:35 pm  

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