After an initial trip to two cities in Myanmar, Yangon and Mandalay, Kimball Gallagher co-founded the Myanmar Music Festival along with Taiwanese-pianist and author Kaiyin Huang.
The Myanmar Music Festival is a unique and vibrant classical festival, which features international artists and faculty in collaboration with Myanmar’s emerging artists for a weeklong intensive training and performances. It aims to empower and inspire young talents to become world-class performers while encouraging businesses to engage with Myanmar’s artistic and cultural life, in hopes that music keeps touching the heart of a wider and more diverse audience every year.
“What do you enjoy the most here in the school?”
“The student’s energy and willingness to learn is really sharp and powerful. They have a different type of hunger to learn. Students here actively want to sit in each other’s lessons to learn, not only for themselves, but each other.”
“Oh, and they always have a pencil.”
“What has been the most inspiring part of seeing the Myanmar Music Festival come together at the Khayay School?”
“I found that through the days of being part of this festival that music isn’t just a form of art where there is a cluster of notes combined together, but rather it is a form of communication. This is why I think it is beautiful to see these musicians coming together from so many different regions, showing the power of music to transcend barriers of language and geography. MMF has helped me remember why I originally fell in love with music, and why I want to continue my own journey in music. Music is legit.”
“How do you feel about being a part of the Myanmar Music Festival?”
Having witnessed the development of education in Myanmar over the last 20+ years, I feel that the MMF has been a wonderful opportunity for people from all over the country to participate in creative activities together, and learn from each other. I deeply believe that good things happen when people from different cultures and regions have the chance to produce things together, and create together. Seeing how music training has been combined with entrepreneurship training is of special interest, as it highlights the link between arts and development. I hope to see MMF continue to expand and bring more people together in the coming years, and to continue to be able to play my part in it.
“What has been one of the most difficult challenges in preparing for the concert?”
“Coordination to have the first ever 16-hand piece. Basically we’ll have two pianos and 8 pianists. It’s going to be quite surprising for the local audience because we’ve never had this sort of performance before!”
No stranger to Myanmar, Hitomi Iwasaki has lived in the country for more than 20 years already, dedicating her time to the children of Myanmar at the preschool she founded, the Khayay School in Yangon. As an educator, she focuses on early childhood emotional development, building the perseverance, responsibility, and empathy of children.
The arts, Iwasaki believes, are the key to a well-rounded education, and her teaching methods focus on including art and other creative topics to help children effectively develop cognitive thinking skills, creative senses, and critical thinking. After being introduced to two international pianists, Kimball Gallagher and Kai-yin Huang, Iwasaki collaborated with the two to bring together the Myanmar Music Festival, aiming to not only promote classical music in Burmese society, but also to focus on spreading awareness for the importance of the arts.
The festival, now in its second year, has been recognized as an official United Nations’ 70th Anniversary event. Support for the festival comes largely from sponsors and partners in Taiwan, like Cyberlink and this year is also lucky to include a group of outstanding student entrepreneurs and journalists from Taiwan’s Pacific American School. The festival represents the best of what happens when people from different walks of life come together for creative collaboration.
“[These musicians] want to share classical music, but, at the same time, want to learn Myanmar music” Iwasaki says. “It’s more of like an exchange program. It’s really beautiful.” In addition to exchange around music, the student entrepreneurs from Taiwan are helping to provide entrepreneurship training for musicians and students in partnership with the music festival.
Aiming to empower and inspire young talents to become not only world-class performers, but also advocates, entrepreneurs and educators, the Festival will conclude with a celebration concert at the National Theater on June 14, 6:30 pm.
Principal Iwasaki welcomes all to join the final concert at the National Theater June 14th, attendance is free for all, and all that is required is a simple RSVP on the MMF Facebook event at the link below to support the ideals of inclusive creative collaboration, development, and the arts.
RSVP at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1659901314240321/
Pyi Phyo Aung (PPA) is a multi-talented musician and global citizen born and raised in Yangon, currently studying vocal performance at Luther College in Iowa, USA. PPA grew up here, getting his education at the International School of Yangon, where his love of music began at an early age.
PPA came back to Yangon this summer to join the Myanmar Music Festival, an international annual collaboration to raise awareness of the importance of the arts in development, and of classical music.
PPA has been with the MMF from the very beginning. Starting off as a fixer for the festival in its first year, making sure that things ran smoothly in Myanmar, he has become a critical piece of the international musical puzzle. As a professional vocalist he has performed in MMF concerts this year in multiple embassies.
Starting off as an intern of the festival last year, PPA volunteered to become a performer for the final concert of the festival. In the opening concert which took place at the American Center, PPA got to sing a couple of songs before the big event.
“We have national theaters for people to play music at, but we do not have the repertoire to show it.” PPA deeply feels that introducing classical music to the community provides a great opportunity for the people here to experience a different style of art and culture, and that when classical music becomes more known in Myanmar that local musicians will naturally bring their own perspective and style to it. This blend of culture, music, harmony, and people is precisely what MMF is all about, and PPA sees music as a bridge between people which overcomes language, geography, culture, socio-economic status, gender, and formal education.
The Myanmar Music Festival is a week long event consists of workshops and concerts conducted by multi-ethnic artists around the world. Aiming to empower and inspire young talents to become not only world-class performers, but also advocates, entrepreneurs and educators, the Festival will conclude with a celebration concert at the National Theater on June 14, 6:30 pm.
PPA, along with the entire family of musicians welcomes you to join them at the National Theater on June 14th at 6:30pm.
Please RSVP at:
Entrance to the event is free, and we only ask that you RSVP on Facebook at the link below to confirm your attendance, and come with open minds and hearts.