As you may know, she studied World and Popular Music, and did her dissertation on Fairuz.. She is now doing a Masters in Music on the role of female performers in the Levantine (and particularly Syrian) music..
So, as part of her course work, she was asked to do some 'field work'.. She was tasked by her Tutor to go and spend a few weeks in Syria, researching the topic of her Masters project..
Kicking and screaming (yeah, right!..), she 'agreed' to go and spend the Christmas break in Damascus.. The declared aims of the visit: Firstly, to interview a number of music academics, and some performers, both professionals and amateurs, particularly female ones. Secondly, to get some feel, on the ground, of the role of female performers in the current and past musical scene in Syria..
(In actual fact, she was so excited about her trip, she was on 'Cloud 9' way before she boarded the plane ten days ago!..)
She is staying with my parents (and is getting spoiled rotten by them!..). My Mum, and my Dad, as well as several relatives, friends and contacts, have helped her arrange appointments with several eminent music academics, and key musical personalities in the Country.. Even in this short time, she managed to meet the Director of the Opera House in Damascus, as well as two or three musical historians and authors on the topic she is researching.. They have all been extremely helpful and supportive, and have provided her with masses of material, and many, many promises of more help.. She is awaiting some tentative attempts to get her in touch with some of the best-known quality female performers in Syria.. (So tentative are these promises, that I am not going to mention any names, until she does meet them.. then I can brag!..)..
Through sheer persistence and dogged single-mindedness, she managed to defeat the legendary bureaucracy and obtain a Library Card (to access the archives at the Assad Library) in less than an hour.. She was not going to be dissuaded by silly dismissal from some lazy, disinterested minion, who kept saying: 'Come back on the 26th!..'!!.. She just refused to accept 'no' for an answer.. The result: She got the Card, and accessed the Library... She obtained enough material to keep her busy during the Eid Holidays, and she will be back on the trail, once life returns to normality..
I have no doubt that her infectious youthful enthusiasm and endless radiant energy have been instrumental in making people want to help her.. After all, how can anyone refuse a request that has been put forward with such eagerness and zest?.. In fact, one of the academics whom she met was so excited about her project.. He said that, despite his prolific writings, he has never broached the topic she is studying with such depth and breadth.. He, not surprisingly, promised to do all he can to help her, and said that her work has inspired him to write a detailed piece on the subject...
Dana is working very hard to gather the material she needs, documenting everything on a voice recorder and a video camera. She is spending hours transcribing the recordings, referencing the video recordings, and wading through material from library archives, as well as the stuff she had been given by the people she met and interviewed.. Despite all that, she manages to make it sound like so much fun!... With her passion, verve and abundant vigor, she seems to be enjoying every minute of her time, despite all the endless hours of hard work and toil..
I guess that is the gift of youth..
Oh, what would I give to be young again!...
(Photo by SB: Ingleton, Cumbria)