Meet Tony Backhouse. A devoted leader of A capella singing workshops for many years. If you’ve joined one of his workshops before, then you know that it’s an experience full of emotion, inspiration, and heart. It does not matter whether you have been singing all your life or are curious to learn, he has the ability to lead a room of complete strangers and create harmony that will leave you feeling full of warmth.
What brought you to Mana and what were your earliest memories of Mana?
I first met Rainer and Shanti at the Waikato Summer School in the ‘90s, and they kindly invited me to do a workshop at Mana. This was in the late ‘90s, before the sanctuary was built. From the start I loved the octagon, the envronment and the attitude of staff and woofers—a feeling of openness, generosity, of living in the spirit.
What is your current involvement with Mana?
I’ve been blessed to have run annual weekend workshops every year, for more than twenty years, and every time it is always a remarkable experience. Mana brings out a different side in people— and whatever that is, things flow seemingly effortlessly.
How has Mana played a role in your personal and professional evolution?
The ongoing love and support I get from Mana has encouraged me to experiment vocally, to find new ways of working with groups, to remain open and more in the moment. I think this is true for all the participants at my Mana weekends – it certainly feels that way.
What is your favourite highlight of Mana?
The highlight is always singing in the sanctuary on the Sunday morning ….maintaining silence until the bells fade away and then starting a hum that unlocks a vast creative space where everyone is free to fly.
To wrap it up, can you describe what Mana means to you?
Mana is a sanctuary.
Interview by the Mana Team.