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News article

Connecting the world of music for social change

Published: 16 May 2023

  •   Featured
Four people stood in front of a conference banner

New community music hub formed between the International Centre for Community Music at York St John University, the University of Macedonia, and the Greek Society of Music Education to celebrate community music making in Greece.

The first Panhellenic Conference in Community Music took place at the University of Macedonia on 29 and 30 April 2023. More than 120 students, academics and practitioners came together to spark a national conversation surround community music in Greece under the title ‘Music and Musicians for a Harmonious Society: Beginnings, Experiences, Perspectives.’ 

The collaborating institutions hosted the first Panhellenic Conference in Community Music on 29 to 30 April at the University of Macedonia. More than 120 students, academics, and practitioners came together to celebrate the wealth of community music making in Greece. 

Professor Lee Higgins, Director of the International Centre for Community Music (ICCM) at York St John University, delivered a keynote presentation, framing international perspectives of community practice and research, and setting out both historical perspectives and key philosophical and ideological foundations in the field of community music. 

Catherine Birch, Senior Lecturer in Music, presented approaches to the community music curriculum within higher education institutions, focusing on the values and pedagogy of the BA Community Music programme at York St John University Describing the significance of the conference, Professor Higgins said: 

It was a privilege for the ICCM to support this event and we look forward in continuing to build a strong, collaborative relationship with our partners at the University of Macedonia. 

Lida Stamou, Professor of Music Education at the University of Macedonia, hosted the conference. In a particularly moving and insightful moment during the two-day event, one of Professor Stamou's postgraduate students led a workshop on the stage of the auditorium, for a group of participants from a local care home, all of whom have dementia. The skill and care in facilitation was obvious in the strong relationships, and connections between community musician and participants, and the positive responses to the music making.  

A long-time collaborator with the ICCM, Professor Alicia de Banffy-Hall from the University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf said: 

“The use of traditional Greek music enabled participants to fully engage with the music making, and it was wonderful to see such a clear example of excellent practice being modelled for the delegates, many of whom were music education students and academics, used to working with more formalised approaches.” 

It is hoped that the success of the conference will lead to strengthened dialogue between the institutions involved as well as new collaborations and networks. 

Find out more about the International Centre for Community Music at York St John University. 

Image shows from left to right: Catherine Birch, Alicia de Banffy-Hall, Lee Higgins and Lida Stamou.

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