Pathways of Professional Immigrant Musicians: Collaborations As Vehicles to Foster Social Mobility
This paper will discuss a key aspect of these musicians’ musical life, namely collaboration. The act of collaboration encompasses a wide range of activities that a musician needs to undertake, from the difficult to mundane, from creation to commerce. At the same time it also shows the challenges that musicians with immigrant backgrounds face, some linked to their musicianship, others to their migrant status.
I will examine how they challenge themselves to learn more and to experience or engage with musical expressions that are new to them. We will also see how it can be a challenge to find work or feel that they belong, again something they address through collaborations. Internally, collaborations challenge them to negotiate with their own traditions, but they can also redraw their identities as a part of this. Externally they are challenged by, or challenge, other people and cultures in order to overcome cultural boundaries, achieve a sense of belonging and gain new values, often as a result of acquiring, expanding and maintaining new and old networks. These and other challenges were met by my informants through open and serious engagement with “the Other”; other musicians and other musical styles. This engagement enables them to adjust and adapt musically, whilst strengthening their musicianship in a number of ways.
These challenges (and related struggles) occur in temporal and fluid fields that in part are generated by collaborations, where success and even struggle in one field provides a springboard of social and cultural capital to navigate through musical pathways to other fields and collaborations. Thus, these collaborations also foster their social mobility, something this paper will discuss in depth.