The New York World Festival closes Sunday, September 26 with the exhilarating program of the Black Sea Roma Festival, featuring the U.S. debut of Mahala Rai Banda, the wild 12-member Roma band comprising musicians from the famed Clejani and Zece Prajini Romanian villages (home of Taraf de Haidouks and Fanfare Ciocarlia respectively).
Michel Winter of Divano Production explains the band’s name: “Mahala is the common name gypsies use to designate the areas where they form the majority of the population, and which sometimes develop into small towns.
Rai is a word of Arab origin borrowed by the Roma tribes that travelled through Persia and Egypt and whose migration ended in Romania in the plain of Walachia. These generations of gypsy musicians (lautari) are considered to be aristocracy among gypsies and the term rai designates someone whose authority or know-how is recognized by all.
Banda designates an orchestra composed of various instruments (violin, trumpet, saxophone, cymbalom, percussion instruments, accordion.) which belongs to no particular genre. It is neither a fanfare nor a folk band, but can be either according to circumstance. Traditional music from the countryside meets the radically modernist style of gypsy music from Bucharest, oriental ornamentation, modern rhythms and the more complex rhythms from the Balkans, and harmonies from the Banat of Moldavia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Albania and Turkey.”
Also featured, the great Turkish Rom clarinetist Selim Sesler, “the Coltrane of the clarinet” (Guardian, UK) famed for his masterful improvisations, funk-driven wedding songs and dance melodies, joined by the New York Gypsy All-Stars. Selim Sesler recordings available: Road to Kesan: Turkish Rom & Regional Music Thrace
Técsöi Banda, a raucous family fiddle band will make its U.S. debut, providing a rollicking ride through the Ukrainian Carpathians with its multi-ethnic mix of spinning dance tunes, magical improvisations and haunting shepherds’ laments.
The Yuri Yunakov Ensemble will join the fun with its electrifying sax solos and dizzying polyrhythmic beat of Bulgarian wedding music. Roma Variations, New Colors in Bulgarian Wedding Music, Yuri Yunakov Ensemble, Together Again: Legends of Bulgarian Wedding Music
DJs Wonderlust who appeared in the 2009 New York Gypsy Festival.
Central Park SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield (enter park at 69th St & Fifth Ave)
Co-presented with the New York Gypsy Festival and Central Park SummerStage
Bulgarian and Ukrainian Roma dance workshops co-presented with Lotus Fine Arts
WMI: (212) 545-7536, http://www.worldmusicinstitute.org
CTMD: (212) 571-1555 http://www.ctmd.org