We get to know one of the members of the Gen Verde International Performing Arts Group, which has its studio in Loppiano. Colomba Bai is Korean, she writes, sings and plays several instruments.
Gen Verde is an all woman band with 19 artists from 14 countries. Their talents and the music they share are transformed every day into a means for spreading a culture of unity. Their headquarters, in Loppiano, is called Hosanna House. It is there that we meet with Colomba, a young Korean who has been a member of the band for eight years. They say that whatever instrument she picks up, give her a few minutes and she’s able to play it.
“In 2013, when I finished the School of Formation for Focolarinas, I was asked to come to Gen Verde. I immediately said yes, because music is one of my great passions. So, after taking a course to improve my Italian, I landed here.”
As we chat, other members of Gen Verde come by to give their lively greetings. The Asians immediately stand out. There are five besides Colomba: Clari and Bea from Korea, Christina from Malaysia and Marie who was born in Japan to a Japanese father and Korean mother. We can’t help asking:
Is it difficult to live and work with such a diverse group? How do you manage to overcome the tendency toward individualism?
“I certainly never imagined making music with such a diverse group of people and so different from one another! Of course, if we stop at the differences, difficulties will emerge. But I can honestly say that I’ve discovered that our diversity is a great fortune for me, because it enriches me at every moment. I realize that when I give my ideas out of love, my skills, I can truly be a gift for others and they for me! If I welcome the diversity of others as a gift, then this diversity becomes a huge potential, which revs up the creativity. We’re very aware of the fact that together we are a power, despite the limitations of each individual person. This ‘we’ gives us an edge, both for our work and for our life.
We often find a new light to better understand the situation and find ways to move forward. During the day, and I think I can say it on behalf of all of us, each of us throws herself into loving the others, with an attitude of service. We believe that everything we do, even the littlest things, are useful to building a more united world! And we try to welcome and love others as Jesus taught us to because, as Chiara Lubich says, ‘our neighbors are the road that leads us to God’.
Individualism? I think we don’t ever have time to fall into individualism.”
Colomba is like a “one-woman orchestra’. She plays several instruments, composes and sings. That’s right, she composes. But how is a song written by Gen Verde?
“We’re deeply touched by the suffering in today’s world, the pain, the challenges, but we also sing about hopes and dreams . . . Very often young people inspire us, our dialogue with them, our work together, or people who have made a difference.
First, we try to send our messages through our lives. Before putting them to music, lyrics, we try to live them. For this reason, our material is also the result of our personal experiences, before being musical expressions, they’re real.
As for the texts, we collaborate with one another, do a lot of research, involve experts, to have a new style that is closer to people.”
Is there a song that you feel particularly linked to? Why?
“This is Our Name” is a special song for me. We also wrote it to give a voice to our Muslim friends. We worked with a Muslim violinist and a person from Lebanon. I saw it as a very special and powerful thing. Art truly has the power to take us beyond our cultural and religious ‘differences’ so that we can dialogue with the heart and without the words.”
Colomba talks with a lot of passion, but not only her passion for music. It’s a passion for this particular way of making music. So, Gen Verde is not only a band… “It is my family.”