By Yazmeen Kanji

Tapestry Opera is thrilled to have Motivational Speaker, Choral Director and Choral Conductor Hussein Janmohamed as this year’s Youth Inside Opera Music Facilitator.

Hussein discovered his passion for music at a young age through his Ismaili Muslim community where he was exposed to folk dancing and choral singing. He enjoyed playing the recorder at school and learned to play the accordion, also joining school choirs. In musical environments, Hussein felt a sense of belonging and healing. Most importantly, when he faced racism, “music class and choir class became a place of breaking the barriers and creating something beautiful together.” Hussein continued to pursue an education in music, also achieving a PhD in Philosophy. As a music educator, he incorporates spiritual work into many of his workshops. Growing up in a community of faith and learning about shared human values of compassion, generosity and kindness has greatly inspired his work today.

Musical education can promote skills to be used in many facets of life. Creating harmonies and making sounds can uplift us and remind us of the values of working together to create something beautiful. Hussein says that individuals bringing their strengths to a larger group parallels the ethical underpinning of what is required to make a better world.

Youth Inside Opera allows young people to create art together and to speak about issues that are important to them. Music has a wider purpose and, “for these young people now in a globalized world where there is a lot of division and rhetoric of fear”, collectively making music allows them to “have these moments of peace and beauty and community.” Through the musical activities, Hussein has three particular goals for the participants. These are, to create new work that gives them a sense of confidence, to advance musical skills including vocal techniques and finally, to develop collaborative skills.

Hussein particularly enjoys working with children, saying that it is a “priceless gift” as it brings out his inner joy and a sense of liberation. There is a distinct difference in working with younger people because they “have this freedom in their heart, in their spirit, to try things.” He hopes that by the end of the two weeks, the participants have achieved a sense of friendship among each other. Hussein recalls that one of the youngest members said that their favourite thing about the first day was making new friends. If this is the case for all the participants, their work is all the more worth it.