Part of a performance by the 'Amih' musical ensemble on Italy's island of Procida by 14 migrant musicians from three continents | Photo: ANSA/Antonello De Rosa
Part of a performance by the 'Amih' musical ensemble on Italy's island of Procida by 14 migrant musicians from three continents | Photo: ANSA/Antonello De Rosa

On Procida, an island near Italy's southern port city of Naples, a musical ensemble has been created made up of migrants from seven nations on three continents. A free concert will be held in the Marina Grande square on November 26.

A multi-ethnic ensemble of 14 musicians from seven nations on three continents has been created on Procida, an island off Naples and currently Italy's Capital of Culture. Within it are professionals who were selected after a call launched across Italy's national migrant and reception network for political refugees and asylum seekers.

The initiative is part of Amih, an art residency project that -- at the end of a workshop that started on November 12 -- will lead to a concert in the Marina Grande square on November 26. The concert will be free.

The group has already co-created some original musical pieces, including 'Amih' and 'Why You Had to Leave', which tell parts of the personal stories of those involved in the project. These songs are meant to be cathartic and describe the most painful parts of departures from home countries and arrivals, often after complicated journeys, on Italian coasts.

Members of the orchestra, from Iran to Gambia

Among the members of the orchestra are the Iranian Mehdi, the Guinean Mamady, the Nigerain Friday Enabulele and the Gambian Ousainou, who was only 17 when he landed just over a year ago and was lodged at the Sant'Andrea di Conza reception center in the region called Irpinia, in Campania. Some of them paid a steep price for the lyrics of songs and performances against corrupt politicians in their countries of origin.

"For us, music is everything: a chance for redemption and a dream that we have cultivated since we were young," he said.

"The musicians are working on original compositions inspired by their cultures, styles and languages," said Procida-native guitarist and composer Osvaldo Di Dio, musical director of the project.

He is flanked in the leading of the workshop by musicians Vincenzo Virgilito, Antonio Fusco and Ashti Abdo, who is of Kurdish origins.

"The idea is to celebrate creative beauty that can be sparked when different languages, musical styles and cultures are in close contact," he continued.

"Music is a privileged terrain through which this process can come into being. The hope is that this can spread also in other spheres in such a complex period," he said.

Opening of the Amih project and the 22 Nodi initiative

The Amih project will continue beyond Procida 2022 through anyone who wants to get involved and includes some members of the Isola di Procida musical group and three Ukrainian women -- Mariya Hronovska, Irena Sosnivska and Oksana Holotyak -- who are now citizens of Porcida and who sing some of the traditional songs of their country to convey a message of peace and brotherhood in the darkest months of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

At the same time, Procida has also launched another project for migrants, 22 Nodi, for those staying in the migrant reception center on the island who want to take part in a series of workshops on sea trades as part of an attempt to overcome traumas linked to their journey.


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