The historic Merklin-Schütze organ in Havana was built in 1856 for the Iglesia de la Caridad in Old Havana, the city centre which is now recognised as UNESCO World Heritage. The instrument is not only among the country’s most valuable organs in terms of craftsmanship and artistry, but is also one of the oldest surviving organs in the entire Caribbean. The restoration project will make it playable again, opening up new possibilities for Cuba’s sacred music culture.
While the demolition of historic buildings over recent decades has been very visible, less public attention has been drawn to the no less devastating destruction of documents and other media, including audio and film material relating to expressions of Afghanistan’s intangible cultural heritage.
Namibia has a rich pop music heritage. The Federal Foreign Office supports a project to preserve historic audio recordings.
During decades of apartheid, not only did Namibian pop music receive no funding from government agencies, it was also controlled and in some cases even suppressed. Many audio recordings were often not kept for posterity at all or were saved only on private, fragile storage media, such as audio cassettes. This musical heritage was in danger of disappearing altogether.
The founders of the Stolen Moments Namibia Music History Untold research group, Aino Moongo and Baby Doeseb, set themselves the task of preserving these musical testimonies of the apartheid era for future generations. The Federal Foreign Office provided around 50,000 euros for this project within the framework of its Cultural Preservation Programme.
The technical equipment for digitising the recordings was provided within the context of the project. A German expert travelled to the country to train Namibian audio technicians, who then digitised numerous recordings and transferred the data to a music database. The digitisation of the music storage media has now been largely completed. An important part of Namibian music history has thus been made accessible both to researchers and to the general Namibian public. Not only academics but also the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and the National Archives of Namibia have access to the music via the database and are helping to revive knowledge about this musical genre, which was almost lost.
Aldred Dreyer, Chief Technology Officer at NBC, is happy: “The project is of great significance for the country and for NBC, and has helped preserve Namibia’s rich cultural heritage.”
Source: Ed. Federal Foreign Office