Elikya, the choir of hope

Publish date 14-12-2021

by Chiara Vitali

You are at the theater, you sit down, there is silence and you wait. Finally the curtain rises. Fifty musicians and singers of sixteen different nationalities appear on the stage: a riot of colors and joy. "We are a group of people passionate about being together" explains teacher Raymond Bahati, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, founder in 2012 of the Elikya choir in Milan. Which is a place of musical creation and contamination of different cultures and languages. Music, yes, but also a social laboratory made up of welcome and integration. «The very nice thing about Elikya is that we try to bring out the beauty that each one can offer» explains Paola Gestori, vice president of the Association that gives life to the choir.

Each one brings with him his own sound and linguistic baggage and makes proposals. “If you decide to perform a piece in Senegalese, for example, we all learn new words. They also become part of our culture. It is an enrichment ». The musical activity is combined with concrete actions of solidarity: a part of the proceeds from the concerts is allocated to development initiatives and attention to fragility. Among the future projects there is also the construction of a school in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has art education at its center: "We would like to give young people in critical situations the possibility of accessing a music school of a certain level". Elikya in Lingala (the Bantu language of the Congo) means Hope. For the choir, it is also an indication of a direction. For example, in the last days of August, Elikya is traveling in the lands of central Italy that were devastated by the earthquake five years ago. During the day we walk the Path of the changed lands, in the evening we perform. The goal is clear: "To make the people of these territories feel closeness and hope, where there are still many unhealed wounds".

Chiara Vitali
NP August / September 2021

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