We received two versions of this album, the original Spanish edition and the international release by Arc Music. Ana Alcaide is the remarkable Spanish world music artist who uses the traditional Swedish instrument called nyckelharpa to explore the musics of Spain, the Mediterranean and beyond. On this project, Ana traveled far away to Southeast Asia to collaborate with Indonesian musicians.
Ana Alcaide spent time in West Java (Indonesia), collaborating with local musicians to develop a fusion on Eastern and Western influences. The project came about when Franki Raden of Gotrasawala Festival invited Ana Alcaide to collaborate with Sundanese musicians. Ana worked with a collective of local musicians that was named Gotrasawala Ensemble.
The recording sessions took place in Bandung (West Java) and San Martin de Valdeiglesias (Madrid) with a mix of original compositions by Ana Alcaide, Rudi Rodexz and traditional pieces. The result is a beautiful set of melodic musical pieces where the distinct flavor of Asian bamboo flutes, percussion, vocals and zithers meets the European folk and classical traditions, jazz, and the mesmerizing hurdy gurdy-like sound of the nyckelharpa.
The lineup on Tales of Pangea includes Ana Alcaide on nyckelharpa; Bill Cooley on psaltery, ud, clay pot; Novi Aksmiranti on vocals; Rudi Rodexz on bansing (bamboo flute), kecapi (Indonesian zither), Hang drum, vocals; Riky Oktriyadi on kendang (barrel drum), selentem (gamelan metallophone), frame drums, hand percussion; Rudini Zhiter on kecapi (Indonesian zither); Iman Jimbot on suling (bamboo flute), vocals; and Ray Sandoval on Spanish guitar.
Tales of Pangea is a splendid album by a groundbreaking artist in the current world music scene.
Spanish musician Ana Alcaide has become a familiar name in Europe thanks to her new album La Cantiga del Fuego that hit the world music charts in Europe at number three. The album will be available in Europe and North America in November 2012.
World Music Central’s Angel Romero interviewed Ana Alcaide to find out more about her background and La Cantiga del Fuego.
When did you begin learning music?
At six. My parents detected that I had a gift for music and signed me up for after school programs in my school.
Which was your first musical instrument?
How many instruments do you play now?
Primarily the nyckelharpa, violin and vocals. I have an ability to play instruments, specially the bowed strings (rabel, kamanche, other fiddles). There are many others that also attract me and that I use in studio recordings, such as the Celtic harp and santur. The problem is finding time to study all!
You use as your main instrument the nyckelharpa, a Swedish instrument that is not well known in Spain. How did you discover it?
When I was finishing my degree in Biology, I was given an Erasmus scholarship to study in Sweden and I lived in Lund for a year. Attracted by the great Swedish musical tradition, during my free time I tried to attend all the music events posible and in one of them I saw a nyckelharpa for the first time. I fell in love with its sophistication and depth of sound.
Where did you learn how to play it?
Two years later, in Toledo. Until then, I didn’t have the economic means to get one. Then I started to play in the streets of Toledo during weekends, since during the weekdays I studied violin at the conservatory. A few years later I returned to Sweden to complete mu music training and to deepen my knowledge of the nyckelharpa.
You latest album is titled La Cantiga del Fuego. What does it mean?
The name comes from a traditional Sephardic song from Thessaloniki in Greece, that describes a fire that took place in that city. This title seemed very symbolic and suggestive, and I used it as the main the thread of the entire work: ‘The cantiga del fuego is the voice that has always been inside and that leads us to be what we are, that ancient powerful voice that echoes inside us since ancestral times.’
The songs on Las canciones de La Cantiga del Fuego have a Sephardic nature but they are original. What sources did you use to write the lyrics and compose the music?
I like to compose new melodies in the ancient language. The composition process is a very special phase: I let myself be carried by my instincts and I leave the rational on the side. When an idea appears, I try to mold it and find the song. I’m passionate and have fun arranging and producing my musical ideas. It’s what I enjoy the most!
When I compose a song, I always begin with the melody, lyrics come later. Perhaps because I feel more an instrumentalist than a singer, and the world of melodies is where I feel it’s easier to create. For this album I had the collaboration of my great friend and poet Beatriz Moreno-Cervera, who wrote two of the lyrics for my melodies. It’s been a really fun and enriching collaboration, that I’m sure will continue in the future!
What musicians did you use to carry out this Project?
This has been my first large production experience and I have learned a lot. I used great musicians and friends who provided special and enriching sonorities, expanding and coloring my musical ideas. The list of collaborators is very long and begins with the musicians with whom I work regularly. On ‘La Cantiga del Fuego’ you can listen to the psaltery, santur and oud of Bill Cooley, winds by Jaime Muñoz, basses by Renzo Ruggiero, guitars by Josete Ordoñez and Rafa del Teso, percussion by Diego López and Sergey Saprychev. In addition, there are very specific special collaborations such as the voice of Iranian artist Reza Sheyesteh, the Greek lyre of Dimitri Psonis and the hansa veena of Ido Segal.
Do you plan to take La Cantiga del Fuego to the stage?
The album came out in May in Spain, but I’ve been presenting live since January. I’ve performed over 40 concerts this year, most of them in Spain and a handful in France, Italy and Portugal. It’s been a very intense and productive year. In the future I plan to do international tours.
La Cantiga del Fuego, which is an independent production reached number 3 in the European World Music Charts. What does this mean to you and did you increase your sales?
Undoubtedly, it’s a great recognition that fills me with hope and motivation to continue! Sincerely, I was not expecting it, and I am very grateful to everybody who has supported me and I feel a commitment to continue to offer the best of me. These types of recognitions don’t have an immediate direct effect in record sales, but rather positive long term consequences, such as more publicity and international recognition.
I understand that British label Arc Music is going to release the album in November
Yes, I’m very excited!! ARC Music is going to release the album worldwide and this is a very good opportunity to get international exposure for my music, as well as reaching places that I can’t reach. I’m very happy to work with the ARC team.
You live in the ancient city of Toledo, a city in which Jews, Christians and Muslims coexisted. Paco de Lucia lived in Toledo recently. What does it mean to live in Toledo? And why do you think it attracts musicians and other artists?
Toledo is a beautiful city that attracts numerous artists because of its extremely rich historical past, no wonder it’s known as the ‘city of the three cultures.’ It’s a city that allows itself to be rediscovered over and over again. To me, it means a daily environment for inspiration, and I love being carried away by its influence. I’ve lived here for 10 years and this environment has provided me the necessary ingredients to develop my musical and artistic career: spirituality, inspiration, history. I love living in Toledo, I carry her with me.
Lately, there seems to be a renewed interest in Sephardic music in Israel, Spain, the United States, Europe and several countries in the Mediterranean. Why do you think there is such an interest?
In Spain, the interest has to do with tourism reasons, since we have a Jewish heritage that has not been promoted enough. I don’t know the reasons in other countries. In any case, the story of the Sephardic peoples is really interesting: it means a great example of coexistence, exchange and cultural enrichment.
If you could gather your ideal musicians or bands, who would you call?
What a difficult question! Above all, I admire great producers and composers, such as Gustavo Santaolalla, Nycky Ryan (Enya), Mike Oldfield, Karl Jenkins (Adiemus), Alan Parsons, and Quincy Jones. I love the songs by groups like Abba and Roxette. I understand music in 360º.
Spain is suffering a great economic crisis. How is it affecting musicians?
Being a musician in Spain is not considered a serious or honorable job. It’s not well recognized academically or valued socially. There is no support for musical creation, or for projects, or tours. The few supports available are practically designated, since Spain is a very corrupt country. In general, people don’t understand that we musicians are professionals who play a role in society, like other professionals. We don’t have a professional association that represents or supports us, and we are much disunited among ourselves. The fundamental problem is a great lack of culture, a tremendous lack of vision that feeds the great cultural crisis that is eating up Spain. The radical measures of cuts in education and the arts show a great ignorance by those who are in charge and forecast a very dark future. It’s very disheartening to live in such an environment with so little motivation. As a Spaniard, I am not proud at all of this situation and sometimes I feel like running away.
What music are you currently listening to?
Lately I listen to soundtracks. I find very interesting the job of joining music and film. The latest album I purchased is the soundtrack of ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ by Harry Gregson-Williams.
What do you like to do during your free time?
I travel a lot. I always love to have a trip in mind so that I can dream about it and plan it. I’m very attracted to other cultures and learning more about them. I love to go out to the countryside, specially the mountains. I like to read and cook a lot. I’m interested in natural sciences, phytotherapy and natural remedies.
What country or countries would you like to visit?
In general all! I’d love to see India, Korea, Thailand and the south of Asia. I’d also like to see Albania. I would also like to know more about Latin America, where people seem happy and joyful. I’d like to go to Chile and Costa Rica. My next trip is to Mexico, a country that I know and love. I like to learn about places in depth. I prefer to stay in a place for a long time and get to know it well rather than traveling in a superficial way.
If someone were to travel to Toledo, what places would you recommend for sightseeing, food and music?
Above all, my recommendation is that they forget about maps and get lost in its streets. Aside from the main monuments, I recommend that they visit historical spaces that open only on certain days and that are quite charming (organized by consorcio de Toledo). Also the thematic routes, there are some that are really varied and interesting.
For food: La Abadía. To have a coffee or attend a concert, the Círculo de Arte de Toledo.
What other projects do you have?
My family. I have a beautiful son and a wonderful partner! I love being with them. If I had more time, I would study some natural medicine, Philosophy and Art History.
Dissidenten, the German band that pioneered world fusion by collaborating with musicians from India, Spain, Morocco and other parts of the globe, will receive the prestigious Praetorius Preis – International Peace Music Award 2012.
In 2012, Uve Müllrich, Marlon Klein and Friedo Josch, founders of the Berlin band Dissidenten will receive the Praetorius Music Prize by the state of Lower Saxony (Germany) in the category of “International Peace Music Award”.
Now running for 30 years, this award is granted to innovative artists of global importance with roots in the state. The prize honors Dissidenten for building musical bridges between cultures.
As stated by the jury, consisting of experts of the international music scene, journalists and artists, “Dissidenten have worked for years towards international understanding and an equivalent mixture of musical styles”. The group is now part of a long line of fine award winners such as viola player Jordi Savall and singer Thomas Quasthoff.
The Praetorius Prize is endowed with € 10.000 and will be presented during a gala in Hanover on March 26th 2012. The celebration will be highlighted by a live appearance of Dissidenten.
For the past year all of us here at World Music Central have pounded the pavement, scrounged through stacks of CDs and even occasionally rummaged through the trash bin searching for that misplaced press release to bring you the very best in world music.
As we slide into the dizzyingly dazzling season of the holiday, we though we’d try and make your holidays a little brighter and perhaps a little less stressed with a gift guide for the music maniacs in your life.
Let’s start out with our editor’s picks this year:
For that special someone Apple’s iPod series might be the way to go with their downloadable partnership with iTunes. The low end of the iPod series is the Apple iPod shuffle, while the Apple 4 GB iPod Nano goes for around $189.99, but has a holds 1000-song capacity and can be used to store photos. Now, for the extra special person you might want to go all out and get the Apple 80 GB iPod Video 5.5 Generation that can hold up to 20,000 songs, hours of video and photos with its 80 GB of storage. It boasts of a 2.5-inch, 320×240-pixel color screen and comes with a price tag of $332.49. Or you can try the kid in the block, Microsoft’s Zune 30 GB Digital Media Player, which stores up to 7,500 songs, 25,000 pictures or 100 hours of video for around $250. For the more modest of means is the SanDisk Sansa M230 512 MB MP3 Player that can hold up to 8 hours of music and won’t break the bank at $45.99.
If you are looking for a wireless player, try the MusicGremlin Wi-Fi MP3 Player , a personal digital music player with Wi-Fi connectivity for wireless file transfers and music sharing.
Don’t forget that a good pair of headphones might be the gift for that pan flute loving roommate or the headbanging teen in your house. Sony has its MDR-NC6 Noise Canceling Headphones for $37.98 that claim a 70% reduction in exterior noise. Sennheiser’s pricier Sennheiser RS 130 Wireless Surround Sound Headphones might just be the ticket for the wandering music fan. While the list price of $169.95 might just scare some off, those interested might want to check the new and used section of Amazon.com for some amazing deals. Sennheiser also has its HD 202 Headphones for a reasonable $22.56 with a good customer rating.
For the music fan that is looking for the latest news on world CDs and groups might just like a magazine subscription. fRoots, Dirty Linen and Latin Beat are very fine publications that are chocked full of world music news and the latest on new groups. You can save yourself a traffic-choked trip to the mall (shopping center) and give a year’s subscription.
Another online option is Amazon.com’s extensive collection of books on music. There’s an endless array of books on music instruction, specific genres of world music and some study guides for students of world music. ¡Cocinando! by Pablo Yglesias is wonderful book full of 50 years of Latin album artwork. For the drum enthusiast try The Way of Taiko: New Book Introduces the Art of Japanese Drumming by Heidi Varian with its collection of gorgeous photographs is sure to please. There’s also the book Rough Guide to World Music Volume One: Africa, Europe & the Middle East by Simon Broughton and Mark Ellingham, as well as its companion, Rough Guide to World Music Volume Two: Latin and North America, the Caribbean, Asia & the Pacific by the same authors. These two books are rich and wonderful examinations into the cultural and historical musical traditions that grow and thrive around the world.
Perhaps you’re in the market for musical instruments. Try Novica.com, a partner to the National Geographic Society. At Novica you can purchase a mahogany kalimba, a jembe drum or South American flutes. What’s great about this site is that there is a profile of each craftsman who makes your instrument; so if you order that teak gong from Thailand you get a photo and a description of the artist Somkiat Sajjapunyathikun. The site is detailed with a description and the materials used in making the instrument. Interested shoppers should order early as the shipping could take several weeks, but the beauty and craftsmanship certainly makes up for the wait. Novica also has a beautiful selection of rugs, clothing and much more from around the world to delight just about anyone on your list. The prices vary from reasonable to costly depending on your wallet.
Last, but not least, don’t forget yourself this holiday season. This year why not while away the dark days of January by giving yourself some music lessons on that guitar you’ve had stashed in the attic or taking up with a stranger for a few tango lessons or perhaps treating a friend to dinner and a local concert. Oliver Wendell Holmes’s advice was this, “Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons, and you will find that it is to the soul what water bath is to the body.”
As always let me wish all of our readers a Merry Christmas … Feliz Navidad… Shuvo Naba Barsha… Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan… Glædelig Jul… Joyeux Noel…Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ùr!…Buone Feste Natalizie… Merry Keshmish… Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia… La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou… Sawadee Pee Mai… Cestitamo Bozic……
Portugal – Toumani Diabaté, Thomas Mapfumo, Trilok Gurtu, Värttinä, Vusi Mahlasela, Ivo Papasov, Rabih Abou-Khalil, Tony Allen, Seun Kuti are some of the artists playing in Sines’ Festival Músicas do Mundo 2006.
Festival Músicas do Mundo (FMM Sines), the biggest world music event in Portugal, is back this July. From the 21st to the 25th of July, in Porto Covo village, and from the 26th to the 29th of July, in Sines Town (Castle, Beach Stage and Centro de Artes), the best music of the world in 24 concerts and dozens of side events.
The 2006 program of concerts is the following:
— Porto Covo Village —
July 21st (Friday)
FRANCIS HIME (Brazil), 22h00
MAYRA ANDRADE (Cape Verde), 23h30
July 22nd (Saturday)
BORIS KOVAC & LA CAMPANELLA (Serbia), 22h00
July 23rd (Sunday)
ACTORES ALIDOS (Sardinia, Italy), 22h00
July 24th (Monday)
VAGUEMENT LA JUNGLE (France), 22h00
July 25th (Tuesday)
DAZKARIEH (Portugal), 22h00
ELISEO PARRA (Spain), 23h30
NURU KANE & BAYEFALL GNAWA (Senegal), Beach Stage, 19h00
* THE BAD PLUS (USA), Castle, 21h30
* TRILOK GURTU & THE MISRA BROTHERS (India), Castle, 23h00
* THOMAS MAPFUMO & THE BLACKS UNLIMITED (Zimbabwe), Castle, 00h30
TONY ALLEN (Nigeria), Beach Stage, 02h30
July 29th (Saturday)
MARIEM HASSAN (Western Sahara), Beach Stage, 19h00
* VÄRTTINÄ (Finland), Castle, 21h30
* CORDEL DO FOGO ENCANTADO (Brazil), Castle, 23h00
* SEUN KUTI & EGYPT 80 (Nigeria), Castle, 00h30
IVO PAPASOV & HIS WEDDING BAND (Bulgaria), Beach Stage, 03h00
(* Only the concerts in the Castle are paid – 10 euros / day. The other concerts are free.)
Side events include exhibits, documentary showings, workshops (with Pat Mastelotto, David Murray and Ethan Iverson / Reid Anderson), meetings with the artists (Vusi Mahlasela, Mariem Hassan, Cordel do Fogo Encantado), book and record fairs, showcases, DJ sets every nights, etc.
More information about the festival available at: www.fmm.com.pt/english
Pioneering Producer Chris Blackwell (who helped make an international star of Bob Marley years ago) recently cemented a new partnership between his own Palm Pictures label and Universal Music Enterprises. The resulting collaboration, Palm World Voices, has taken on an ambitious first project- a combination CD and DVD set celebrating the sounds and visions of India. And while such a musically and culturally rich place can hardly be summed up in one neat package, Blackwell and Universal have succeeded in creating something quite stunning here.
Vedic Path (named for the course upon which personal and universal existence move along in a cyclic manner according to Hindu tradition) aims to be both educational and entertaining. To that end, the liner notes are extensive and informational without being stuffy and a detailed illustrated map provided by no less an authority than the National Geographic Society is included.
Not knowing as much as I ought to about India, I found it helpful to bone up with the liner notes and map before moving on to the music. Ah yes, the music- a very strong selection it is, ranging from the traditional stylings of familiar folk like Ravi Shankar to more fusion-minded stuff that brings in non-Indians like Dissidenten and John Wubbenhorst alongside such greats as . R. Rahman, Asha Bhosle and Sheila Chandra.
The DVD includes the same tracks as the CD, only this time with striking visuals of scenic vistas, celebrations on various scales, religious ceremonies, people going about their everyday life and more. A lot of ground is covered, and though it’s clear that no one is looking to ignore the fact that India remains beset by poverty and other ills, this admirable box set triumphs in projecting an uplifting, multifaceted picture of a country with a fascinating past and present that’s reflected in the music and spirit of its people and its influence on the world.