A Message from Mo, October 2016

“You have to think anyway, so why not think big?” Who said that? Donald Trump. Now, considering his sterling record in everything from international relations to gender issues you might be wondering why I’d even think of including that in a Berakah Arts newsletter. One reason is that I find it ironic, and hence funny, when he says that you ‘have to think anyway’ considering that many people would point out that he and his followers might not be on the closest terms with thinking in the first place. But the real reason is simpler. The rise of the kinds of attitudes that Trump personifies are a direct threat to all of us. Whether it’s the European Right with their historic Anti Semitism, the rise of Islamaphobia across the globe or  the attack on the black community in the USA we seem to be approaching another crossroads where we must all choose wisely, or choices will be made in our name. We’re doing our little bit by launching INCREASE THE PEACE, in West London, on November 1st.   Have a look at the info below and please let people know. All the best, Mo x

A Message from Mo, September 2016

It feels like a short summer break so I hope you managed to get sone sun and maybe some Hammock Time (any beach based MC’s feel free to use that one). Summer was super busy. As well as gigs and concerts with various bands I was setting the ground for future projects and, in line with our name change to Berakah Arts, widening our brief in terms of which art form we use to bring people together. Watch this space! I’ve also been busy writing and my account of a recent ‘fact finding’ trip to Israel and The West Bank in the company of one of our Trustees is almost done. We’ll send out a link to our mailing list when it’s done. Finally, we’re starting our choir project again, in partnership with Richmond Adult Community College, from Monday September 26th, 7pm to 9pm. We had a brilliant time last year with numerous performances and a really great set of songs to sing. We encourage anyone who has ever wanted to sing to come along, no experience necessary. And, thanks to RACC and CILS, it’s free! All the details are on the flier below. Come and get involved in something... Continue reading →

A Message from Mo, April 2016

Reading has always been one of my great pleasures and this year I’ve made a concerted effort to go back to reading some fiction. The last spate of fiction I read was about five or six years ago when I caught up with what I think of ‘modern classic’, including Kafka On The Shore, Cloud Atlas, Life of Pi, The Road and some others. I sometimes want to re-read the books of my youth such as The Trial, Catcher in the Rye or Catch 22 but these days time means I’d rather read something new.  If you’re looking for something new, and inspirational, I’d like to mention one of my favourite books of all time. It’s a collection of stories from different traditions edited by the influential Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield. And I can’t recommend it highly enough. It really had a deep effect on me and it’s a book I keep very close to me at all times.  If you have any recommendations for inspirational books please post them on our Facebook page, and join the group! I’d like to see our FB page become a place where people can share positive ideas and news so please come and... Continue reading →

A message from Mo, March 2016

Sometime around mid February I visited and spent the evening with a man, about 82 years old, living in North London, who’s wife had passed away. His family had arrived here four or five generations ago from Russia so he was as British as can be. His wife, however, was from Germany and had lost all her immediate close family in the Holocaust. Her cousin and his mother, through some quirk of fate, had stayed – and survived – in Germany for the whole of the war period. How?  German men and women had hidden and protected him by creating false identities for him and moving him from place to place.  These heroic German people placed themselves and their families in clear and present danger, and the risks were immense. No one can doubt the brutality of the Nazi ideology.  My host went on to tell me about other acts of bravery, such as the caretaker of an SS building who kept Jews hidden in the basement. The last place the SS would look! There are many other tales of bravery amongst people who helped Jews, and others evade or escape Nazi persecution, including Muslims who hid Jews in other... Continue reading →

A Message from Mo – April 8th 2015

Hello friends and supporters, I’m delighted to be able to tell you the full details of our 2015 tour of England. The last time we toured so extensively was in 2007 and much has changed since then. This tour, backed by the Arts Council of England, celebrates our work and the work of countless organisations within our communities that are dedicated to bringing people together. Each concert on this tour has been organised in conjunction with a local community group and each concert is an invitation to the whole community to come together in a spirit of peace and co-operation. The tour kicks off with a special concert in London that will feature new music from The Berakah Players (Chantelle, Serena, Mark and myself) and will feature a new string section. I’m furiously writing music as we speak and I have to say we’re very excited by these new compositions. The London concert will also feature our two Berakah Multi Faith Choirs (one from London and the other from Sussex) who will come together to perform a short set. There will also be a set from the brand new, never heard before Berakah Youth Ensemble. This idea has been in... Continue reading →

A Message from Mo, Jan 12th 2015

It feels wrong to wish everyone a Happy New Year, considering the events across the world in the first few days of 2015. So it’s with a sombre tone that I greet all of you. The taking of lives in France, Africa and the continuing violence in the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan casts a shadow over all of us and leaves us bewildered, upset and quite rightly angry. There can be no justification for such acts and my condolences to all the people affected. After the events of last week an interesting exchange happened on social media, and I’d like to share that exchange with you now. I posted this after a gig – “Something very important happened last night – amongst all the fun, dancing and awesome playing my good friend  came up to me and said how much he supported my work with Berakah and how, in the light of current events, he would be happy to lend his support in any way if I ever needed it. I’m always very hesitant about mentioning Berakah in the wake of tragic events as I don’t ever want to be seen to be exploiting any situations, so the fact... Continue reading →

A Message from Mo, December 2014

“It’s been a really busy time for Berakah – setting up a tour for 2015, organising our 10th London concert , writing new music and rehearsing with the choir for our Christmas concert. It’s all go! In the midst of all that ‘I’m so busy isn’t life hectic I’ve got no time’ type inner narrative it’s easy to forget that the reason we do our work is to bring people together and to create a space where understanding can grow. All the hard work has an end game, and there are millions of people all over the world working towards the same goal. We all need your support, and we thank you for it.“ Mo Nazam

A Message from Mo, Late July 2014

“Dark clouds gather. The skies darken. All seems lost. Even so, it’s not a time to give up, rather a time to tread carefully. Brian Browne Walker, in his translation of hexagram 10 (“Treading/Conduct”) of the I Ching talks about avoiding the bite of a tiger by treading around it carefully – It is not our duty to condemn or correct others, but simply to go on developing ourselves. Do not imagine that you can hasten your progress through aggressive actions now. Those who resolve to persevere in humility, sincerity, and gentleness can tread anywhere — even on the tail of a tiger — and meet with success. Tread carefully, but don’t stop walking The Path. “ Mo Nazam

A Message from Chantelle, Choir Beginnings

When Mo told me I would be running the Berakah choir with him last year my first emotion was fear – that most common of emotions when facing the unknown – having never run a choir before. And I do believe the wonderful singers we had in that first term were a little apprehensive themselves, none of them really knowing what to expect. On that very first session I was like a rabbit in the headlights with lots of baby rabbits staring at me like I was the headlight. It was quite disconcerting but the reason we all found ourselves in that uncomfortable situation was because we knew we had a common goal in sight – a goal that kept us there and prevented us from running – that it is possible to be unified regardless of race, gender or belief system. That cohesion can work when idiosyncratic detail is swept to the sidelines and a group’s focus is towards peace, love and acceptance. And with music as our medium, that beautiful universal language we all understand, work it did. As the weekly singing sessions gathered momentum, all our fears gradually slipped away to be replaced with joyous harmony, much... Continue reading →

It’s a Funny Old World

On my way back to where I’d parked my car, after another enjoyable night at Zebrano in Greek St with the cracking band I turned from Dean St on Oxford Street, which at 23.00 hours was still buzzy with cars, buses and people. As I walked along I noticed a lady walking slowly in front of me. She was, let’s say ‘large’, and walked with a cane. She carried a plastic bag and small rucksack on her back and as she walked slowly I noticed that her feet were bare. I drew up to her and heard that she was wheezing, and struggling to walk and I thought her bare feet must be hurting. I wondered if she had any shoes. As I passed her I turned and looked at her. Many years ago I made a decision that if I saw someone who looked like they were in trouble I would offer help. I wouldn’t think twice. To my eternal shame and regret I haven’t always kept to that decision, and when I have it’s got me into some hot water but with Mark Dyer’s post from yesterday on my mind I thought if she hasn’t got any shoes... Continue reading →