Artist Profiles: Arte Mixto

Arte Mixto

In 1993, under the direction of talented violinist Alexis Correa, in the city Cienfuegos Las Villas, Cuba, a group of musicians, fresh from the National School of Arts, got together and decided to form their own group.

They imagined a special kind of sound, they want to play the well-known traditional Cuban music, the sones, guaguancos, the rumbas and the guarachas, and add to them elements of classical music, jazz, flamenco, salsa and even samba. The mixture, new and exciting, would lead them to their name: Arte Mixto. With their totally acoustic sound comprised of two guitars, a bass, a violin and the whole assemblage of percussion instruments native to their country (bongos and bata drums), Arte Mixto hit the road and became an instant favorite with locals.

Arte Mixto’s reputation spread and they were chosen to represent their country as the most authentic expression of Cuban music in a tour of nine cities and various festivals in Norway. On the way back, stopping for two incredible concerts in London, they continued to garner critical acclaim. In 1996, the group was granted the condition of First level, by the evaluation committee of the Cuban Institute of Music, probably the most sought after award in their country. As a result of their new status a television show featuring was broadcast nationally. That award, as well as other national prizes, such as the Bis Music Award, the Beny More Musical Award and the Egrem Music House Award, led them to record their first album which consisted of songs performed by the group in their first five years together.

Within a year, Arte Mixto became the proud recipient of the 2nd place prize of the Lucas Award (1997), equivalent to the MTV awards in the U.S. Their first release, Deseos, was voted number four in the top ten albums of the year by Latin Beat Magazine and the New York Latino. In July of 1998 in Cienfuegos, Cuba, Arte Mixto recorded their second release Virginia, which was made in tribute to Alex Correa’s mother. Once again, they refined those traditional Cuban sounds, as well as, demonstrated their ability to fuse universal rhythms into their own classical style.

In 1998 and 1999, Arte Mixto toured twice throughout the United States and attracted the attention of diverse audiences across the nation. In New Orleans, they were given the Key to the City and national reviewers raved about the talent and energy of the band. In February of 1999, MTV?s Roadrules went to Havana, Cuba to film Cubamania. This historical TV event featured Arte Mixto and marked the first time MTV filmed in Cuba, exposing its audience to the wonderful world of Cuban music. During the same year, Arte Mixto was honored with yet another award in the city of Cienfuegos, El Premio Annual de la Cultura. The band then traveled to Italy, where they captivated their audiences in the many shows and festivals where they performed.

In 1998, Arte Mixto’s vocalist Iris Sandra Cepeda sought political asylum in the United States while on tour.

Discography:

Deseos (Ahi-Nama Records, 1997)
Virginia (Ahi-Nama Records, 1998)
Sin Chisme (Ahi-Nama Records, 2001)

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Artist Profiles: Arnaldo y su Talisman

Arnaldo y su Talisman was founded by Arnaldo Rodriguez, originally director and composer for Azucar.

Arnaldo formed his band from a group of friends from his small Cuban home-town. The group has grown into one of the most popular in Cuba and successfully mixes typical styles of Cuban music with pop, rap and techno.

Discography:

Arnaldo y su Talismán (Egrem)
Mango (Egrem)
La Lucecita (Egrem)

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Afghan Rubab Maestro Homayun Sakhi to perform at A World in Trance Festival in New York

Homayun Sakhi

Afghan rubab virtuoso Homayun Sakhi is set to perform on Friday, April 27, 2018 at Roulette in Brooklyn. The concert is part of the A World in Trance festival.

Homayun Sakhi has established an international reputation as the outstanding Afghan rubab player of his generation. A master of the rubab, a skin-faced lute that is revered as the national instrument of Afghanistan, he performs the music of Afghanistan, which is rich in traditions that span the Middle East, Central Asia and North India. He will be joined by Nitin Mitta, one of the most sought after tabla players of his generation.

Friday, April 27, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue (at 3rd Avenue), Downtown Brooklyn
Information & tickets: www.robertbrowningassociates.com/homayoun-sakhi.html

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Artist Profiles: Albita

Albita

Albita began her professional career at fifteen in her native Cuba. Since the beginning her goal was to renew the traditional forms of Cuban music – like Cuban Country and the Son. With this concept, she started composing and singing her original songs in a peculiar way.

Her first album “Habrá Música Guajira” (1988) shows 10 songs of her own and in all of them it is obvious the research and fusion that would characterize her future works. The single “Parranda, Laúd y Son” was number one on the top ten of many Latin Countries and was recorded by other singers and bands.

In 1991 she went to Colombia under contract for a local record label. In the albums “Si se da la Siembra” and “Cantaré”from those days, she included both Cuban standards and her originals.

In April 1993 she defected to the United States, settling in Miami. Very soon the media and famous names began attending her shows at a venue in Little Havana – Quincy Jones, Madonna, Angelica Huston, Oprah Winfrey, Rosie O’Donnell, Liza Minelli and the late Gianni Versace – among many others.

Emilio and Gloria Estefan also became fans and signed her to their label, Crescent Moon. In 1995, her first US album was released, “No se parece a Nada”. The album quickly sold over 100,000 copies and Albita toured in the U.S.A., Spain, Panama, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Puerto Rico among many other countries. She also performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland and shared billings with Brazilian Gilberto Gil and salsa icon Oscar D’León.

The critics praised “No se parece a Nada” and the fierce live shows of the singer. The album was nominated to “Lo Nuestro” award of Latin Music. In September 1996 came out her second album for Crescent Moon “Dicen Que…” produced by Albita and Emilio Estefan Jr. In this record she shows mainly her originals in a variety of styles of Cuban Music. Most of the album was recorded live in studio in one take with no sophisticated sequencing or technology. At the 39th edition of the Grammy Awards, “Dicen Que…” was nominated as best album of tropical music and got the Billboard award as Tropical Album of the Year. Albita performed at the opening ball of the United States President Bill Clinton, at the Herencia Hispana Awards, and at sold out concerts through the United States. Magazines like Vogue and TV top shows featured Albita. 1997 was the year of “Una Mujer Como Yo.”

About this album Albita said: “This record is full of new and exciting motivations for me. For the first time I included only festive songs that create a party atmosphere. I opened myself also for the first time to different music styles I have always been enthusiastic about: Colombian Vallenato, Bomba from Puerto Rico, the rhythmical and tasty Merengue from Santo Domingo and Cuban Music. All are mixed here. Counting with the collaboration of Pappo Lucca, Kike Santander, Roberto Blades and Emilio Estefan was a pleasant experience.”

A new nomination for the Grammy’s and a new inclusion at “Lo Nuestro” awards were the result of this production. Albita is a supporter of charitable causes as AMFAR – to find a cure for AIDS- and the American Cancer Society and offered several benefit concerts for them in 1997. That same year she was selected best female singer in Peru with the song “Chico Cheveré. “Her music has been included in the soundtrack of films such as “Mascaro” from Venezuela, “Café con Leche” (filmed in Miami) and “The Specialist” and “Dance with Me,” both produced in Hollywood.

Discography:

Habrá Música Guajira – There Will Be Guajira Music (1988)
Cantare (1992)
Si se da la siembra (1991)
No Se Parece a Nada – Unlike Anything Else (Crescent Moon, 1995)
Dicen Que – They Say That (Crescent Moon, 1996)
Una Mujer Como Yo – A Woman Like Me (1997)
Son (2000)
Hecho a Mano – Handmade (2002)
Albita Llegó – Albita Is Here (2004)
Albita Live (2006)
Mis Tacones (2009)
Albita (2017)

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Artist Profiles: ¡Cubanismo!

¡Cubanismo!

The world-renowned Afro-Cuban jazz band, ¡Cubanismo! is led by trumpeter Jesús Alemañy, a Cuban expatriate from London who returned to Cuba and recruited some of the best Cuban musicians from Cuba and abroad to create a band that celebrates Afro-Cuban dance rhythms. Alemañy’s fiery trumpet playing and a powerful percussion section create a sound that is uniquely Cuban and totally authentic. As Cuban writer Enrique Fernandez explained it: “Dictators, imperialists, revolutions, embargos, capitalism, socialism, death, no one, no one can stop the music.”¡Cubanismo! is a journey to the dancing heart of Latin music.

A 15-piece orchestra of Cuban all-stars showcases the bright tropical blasts of Cuba’s hottest dance music. Led by Jesús Alemañy, the brilliant young trumpeter formerly of Sierra Maestra, the band features famed conguero “Tata” Güines and several stars from leading Cuban dance bands including Irakere and others. Together, they punch out an irresistible blend of freewheeling dance tunes, traditional rumba, cha-cha, son, and lesser known danzón and pa’ca rhythms, composed by various members of Alemañy’s band and arranged in the descarga (jam) tradition developed by Cuban jazz players of the 1940s.

The expression cubanismo designates something specifically Cuban, or unique to the island and not common to the general Spanish culture of Latin America. Utterly different from the genre known as Latin jazz, ¡Cubanismo! features danceable music from beginning to end, celebrating the legacy of Cuban music in other dance styles from around the world. The Cuban son, which dates back to the early 20th century, is the root of much of the up-tempo international pop music, from African soukous to New York salsa.

The leader of ¡Cubanismo!, Jesús Alemañy, was a trumpeter for Sierra Maestra, one of Cuba’s leading son groups, from the age of 15. Now residing in London, Jesús immerses the listener in sweet dance sessions full of swaggering horn charts and wild polyrhythms that recall the vintage big-band son sound. The orchestra is filled with the likes of Irakere veteran flutist Orlando “Maracas” Vallesaxophonist Yosvany Terry from Los Terry, his family’s Afro-Cuban groupthe great Cuban bassist Carlos del Puertoand tres player Pancho Amat. The all-star percussion lineup boasts the venerable “Tata” Güines and Roberto Vizcaíno on tumbadoras (conga drums), and the always inventive timbalero Emilio del Monte.

Jesús Alemañy’s ¡Cubanismo! began as a recording project for Rykodisc’s Hannibal label. The album was recorded in Havana with British producer Joe Boyd in May of 1995. Breaking sales records in Europe and the US, ¡Cubanismo! became one of the Latin crossover albums of 1996, and made the Top Ten lists of Billboard, Latin Beat and Afropop Woldwide. Alemañy decided to continue with the project and reassembled the band and recorded their second album Malembe, also on Rykodisc’s Hannibal label.Throughout the years, the band has gone through many changes.

Discography:

Cubanismo (Hannibal Records, 1996)
Malembe (Hannibal Records, 1997)
Reencarnación (Hannibal Records, 1998)
Mardi Gras Mambo (Hannibal Records, 2000)
Mucho Gusto (Hannibal Records, 2001)
Greetings From Havana (AIM Records, 2007)

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Interview with Roberto Paolo Riggio of World Music Esemble Atash

Atash

 

World music ensemble Atash will be performing today in New York City along along with the St. Stephen’s Global Ensemble. Roberto Paolo Riggio, Atash’s musical director, violinist and composer discussed the project with World Music Central.

On Monday, April 23, Atash and The St. Stephen’s Global Ensemble will be performing at New York’s Carnegie Hall. How did Atash connect with The St. Stephen’s Global Ensemble?

John Moon, who is also a violinist in the group, is the Director of Orchestras at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, where he’s been for 20 years or so. Several years ago St. Stephen’s commissioned me to write some music for the group, for a European tour they were doing, which culminated in my writing a piece for oud and orchestra. It turned out to be a hit with the ensemble, and the school, and I was asked to revise it a few years later for another tour, adapting to the changing instrumentation of the group. Again the school loved the project, which brought the students into contact with concepts that they otherwise might not have gotten to explore, such as improvisation, eastern approaches to playing, and modern techniques.

After taking a chance on going in this unconventional direction at the school, we saw involving Atash as a natural progression. We’ve both felt so privileged to get to work with this kind of group for all these years, Atash is such a unique combination of talented and masterful musicians from varied traditions. John realized it was an untapped resource that could offer his students exposure to something extraordinary that would be a great experience for them. So he put me to work scoring our music for the ensemble for another European tour, which happened last year. And he was right. It was a great experience not only for the students, but also for all of us. He submitted video from the tour to Mid-America, and they wound up inviting us to play in Carnegie Hall. So, of course, it was back to writing for me, for a larger group of students this time, including several keyboard players and percussionists in addition to the strings and winds. And here we are.

What’s the concept behind Global Harmony, the work that you’ll be presenting in New York?

The concept is really an expression of what Atash itself is, at its core. We are musicians from very different backgrounds who are united by our love for music, and our desire to create. It’s a microcosm for what’s possible in the world – that is, bringing people from different cultures, different countries, different religions, different ages, different socioeconomic backgrounds, together and creating something beautiful together. Although I am the main composer, responsible for the ultimate shape and structure of the compositions and, especially, for the orchestral arrangements, every stage of the project includes collaboration, whether it has to do with other members’ contributing specific lines or melodies, or parts, or with decisions made in the execution stage. Even when I am alone writing, I write in response to input that I get from the various members of the band and from the students, and also keeping mind what I know about their abilities, capitalizing on their strengths but also looking for areas where I think they can be pushed beyond their comfort zones. While the music is structured and parts are fully written out, there are also varying degrees of improvisation involved, and some moments where I don’t write anything out but expect them to create their parts.

From a music education standpoint, the students are learning about how music is actually put together in the modern world. Instead of merely learning the mechanics of playing their instruments and reproducing what’s written on a sheet of paper in front of them, they’re learning more about how music is actually created, how it may be adapted, how they might interpret or transcend the written page. They’re learning in a broader sense what it means to be a musician. Because this music is ours, all of ours, and because of the approach we take, each participant has an ability to shape it in their own way, within certain parameters, of course. And they’re learning about how to discover what those parameters are, how to develop a sense of taste and elements of style. Global Harmony is about making music that may contain the blood of various traditions, but grows up to be its own person with its own traditions unto itself, something that everyone involved in can enjoy and feel that they belong to.

 

St. Stephen’s Global Ensemble

 

How does this project differ from Atash’s regular music?

In substance and execution, not too much. It sounds different, of course, because now we’ve got an orchestra with us. It’s more lush, more intricate. We have to take certain things into consideration that we don’t normally. When it’s just the band, one of us can veer off in a different direction in the moment, based on what he’s feeling, knowing that the other band members will not only follow him but also be able to converse musically with him, spontaneously. We’re all very used to that, and are quite good at connecting with each other telepathically in that way. Whereas, with these arrangements and the large group of students, we now need to explore what can be done within a structure that’s a little more contained. However, we still have freedom. Everytime we play these pieces, they’re different.

The students have had to learn to adapt to our approach at the same time that we’ve adapted to following a stricter form. It’s not unlike the way the Egyptian orchestras of the black and white films of the last century operated. In other words, while following a score which encapsulates an overall structure, there is still a great deal of flexibility. There are moments when the members of Atash may slightly alter the form, which the orchestra must catch and deal with in a musical way. They are learning what it means to think like a musician – like a composer, arranger, a side man, a member of a band, an improviser. And although we help guide them through doing this in the rehearsal process, a lot of what they do turns out to be somewhat innate, which is a great discovery to make for them as students, and for us as educators.

Is this a one-time project or are there plans to continue the collaboration with The St. Stephen’s Global Ensemble?

I think this is going to be ongoing for Atash, but not limited to working only with the St. Stephen’s group. We’d like to do this with lots of different groups around the country and around the world, both student and professional. Every time it will be different, it will be fresh, because the people will be different, and each group of people will leave its own imprint on the music. Every performance will be a totally unique experience.

Can you give our readers a brief history on how Atash was formed?

In a nutshell, Atash emerged from a pre-existing group that was called the Gypsies, which had been started by our singer, Mohammad Firoozi, and another great artist living in Austin, Oliver Rajamani, in 1996. Jason McKenzie and I joined the group shortly after it was formed. The group went through various personnel transformations, and Oliver left to do his own thing at one point, leaving the “musical director” position open, which I moved into. After going through a lot of changes, in 2001 a five-member core emerged which included – in addition to Mo, Jason, and myself – John Moon and Dylan Jones. At that point, around 2001, we decided to break away from The Gypsies’ mold and call it Atash and make the group more of a collaboration, with a sound that embraced more of the diversity within the group.

From that point, we have only grown in size, with new members generally being added, but none ever really leaving the group. In other words, it’s more of a brotherhood, or a family, than a musical act. We don’t play with everyone who is a member of the group all the time, but there are a number of people we consider to be members whom we play with whenever there is an opportunity that presents itself.

People like our old friend Christian Fernandez, who lives in France, or Fareed Haque, who lives in Chicago; Elias Lammam and Abbos Kosimov in California; Michael Ibrahim in Detroit. But there’s a core of around nine players based in Austin now.

What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?

The essential elements of our music are:

1.) of course, the international aspect, but also the idea of expertise. We not only have musicians who come from different cultures and traditions, but the musicians we have come from deep within those traditions. I would even say that they are masters in those traditions.

2.) The collaborative aspect. We make our music together. Sure, there are usually one or more people who can claim to be the primary composers of a particular song or piece, but it gets transformed and evolves as it gets taken up by the group. It gets “Atashified.” And many of our songs wind up having everyone’s fingerprints on the composition. We have to make music that satisfies ourselves, with all our varied tastes, so we’ll either hash things out in the writing process, or it will start to change in fundamental ways through performance, through individual members feeling something in the moment and adding it to the piece, and it winds up sticking. Really both things often happen.

3.) The sound itself, I think, is very distinct and recognizable. We’ve got Mohammad’s voice, which is a unique Persian voice. It’s not a classical Persian voice, but more a voice from the street, like a flamenco singer. Very rich, but also very primal. The strings have that sort of earlier 20th century Egyptian sound, or even old Hollywood or Bollywood sound, very lush and ornate. Sophisticated, yet sensuous.

The shimmer of sitar, and Indian elements like tabla, and the rawness of west African and Middle Eastern drums wrapped in the energy of rock and roll drums and somewhat jazzy, somewhat hip-hop upright bass. It’s a sound that if you dissect it is actually quite eclectic, but somehow comes across as very organic and cohesive, unified as if it comes out of one tradition, its own. I think this is because we meet in the mystical space of all traditions, where we have access to everything, but we let it be guided down a particular path that seems to come from a divine source.

4.) The dance of improvisation. I put dance and improvisation in the same sentence because I think they are divinely linked, especially in our music. It’s very difficult not to dance to our music. But what’s amazing is that, no matter where in the world we play, we inspire the same kind of free, individualistic and communal improvisatory dancing – because we are improvising. Every show is an improvisation, though we may play the same songs from one show to another, and it is inspired by the connection we feel with each other, and with our audience. We’re very popular with the “ecstatic dance” community, and many people have told me that they consider going to hear our music, and dance, to be a sort of ritual. And it connects a lot of people from all sorts of different backgrounds, which I love.

5.) Mystical poetry. Mohammad, our singer, is very influenced by the Sufi poets of several hundred years ago – Khayyam, Rumi, Hafez, etc. He often uses their verses or adapts them, or composes his own, inspired by these poets.

Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

This would be a very long list. I think in the beginning, Mo and Oliver were inspired a lot by groups like the Gipsy Kings, qawwali singers like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and Rai singer like Cheb Khaled. However, we sort of opened the Pandora’s box when we turned into Atash. Ali Akbar Khan, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Ravel, Satie, Wilson Pickett, Marvin Gaye, Radiohead, Bob Marley, Dimi Mint Abba, John Coltrane, Willie Nelson, James Brown, Cat Stevens, Fairuz, Paco de Lucía and Camarón de la Isla, Ojos de Brujo, Fela Kuti, Bob Dylan, Youssou N’Dour, Ali Farka Toure, John Cage, Shakti, Ravi Shankar, Philip Glass, John Lee Hooker, of course, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, my teachers Simon Shaheen and Pandit Ram Narayan… I mean really, I wouldn’t know where to begin or stop.

Tell us about your recordings and your musical evolution.

Our first recording as Atash was in 2003, called Republic of Love. Our next recording was a live recording from our “Global Harmony Concert Series,” and was called Global Harmony, released, I think, in 2007 or something. It’s out of print and I believe the masters are lost. Our next album, Everything Is Music, was released in 2013 or 14, I think. I think we’ve just gotten better at what we do over the years.

We’ve been together a long time. As time goes on, I think what we see is the voices of each member of the group growing stronger, in terms of writing. We’re each finding who we are more and more, and honing the craft of weaving those voices together to create a coherent whole.

 

Atash – Everything Is Music

 

How’s the current world music scene in Austin?

The Austin world music scene is small, but very eclectic and strong, and has been for decades! (Did you know that Hamza al-Din was once a part of it, back in the 1970s? And Alan Lomax was born in Austin!) Austin’s a big university town, and a big music town, and career musicians often play in a variety of genres, so all kinds of people are connected to the world scene, even if their primary scene is a different one. And people who predominantly play international music also get hired to play in a variety of different genres, some more conventional than others. It’s a very musically promiscuous scene. (I said musically!) People in Austin take live music for granted, because it’s always there, everywhere. It’s like the air we breathe. Every place of business is potentially a live music venue. Almost every local restaurant at least has a stage. You wouldn’t believe how many opportunities there are to hear live music in all kinds of places you wouldn’t expect!

I once counted that the local paper had listings for sixty shows on a Monday night, just a Monday night! And that’s just what was listed. For this reason, I think Austin musicians understand the idea that music has to move you. It doesn’t have to be pretentious or exclusive, it just has to move people. That’s what we call authenticity, whereas in other places people might think of authenticity, in world music especially, in terms of musical pedigree or purity with relation to a tradition, adherence to particular rules of style. In Austin, that is not what we mean by authenticity. In fact, that can be very inauthentic if it’s something that forced. For us, authenticity means playing music from the heart. It can be informed by tradition, of course! But to be authentic it should not feel that it’s removed from who you are. It should sound like your voice, your spirit. Music that stirs the emotions and moves the body. Rumi, the 13th century mystical poet who is one of the primary inspirations to our singer, Mohammad, once wrote, “We have fallen to a place where everything is Music!” That pretty much describes Austin.

What musical instruments do you use?

Two violins, oud, sitar, flamenco guitar, upright bass, jembe, tabla, darbuka, kanjira, congas, drumset, and Persian vocals. This is the core of the instruments we use, but anything is fair game, especially when we’re in the studio.

If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with whom would that be?

There are many people I’d love to collaborate with, too many to start listing, but one thing that really interests me, as someone who began working in classical music when I was very young, is bridging the gap between what we do and the classical world. Although I have immense respect for western classical music, I do think that there’s something lacking in the training. You often find musicians who are incredibly talented who are scared to death of improvisation. That was not the case for me when I was growing up, mainly because I found practicing etudes and composed pieces too boring to stay with for very long. I’d work for a little while on a piece, but then find myself improvising. I loved playing, but I didn’t love that kind of practice.

When I discovered things like Indian music and Arabic music, I wound up taking to it quite naturally, because learning the music involved a certain degree of learning how to invent, and experimentation. I’d like to help classical musicians have this experience. I dream that one day there will be trained musicians who are literate in a more broad base of styles and approaches, who can adapt to a broader set of musical circumstances, including improvisation where it is called for. I mean, I think there are already a lot of musicians like this, but I don’t think it’s yet become a part of musical training. I’d like to be someone who helps to make that happen. There’s a sound that I associate with those old orchestras that I mentioned earlier, that I’d like to try and cultivate again. A sound where the individual musicians have a bit more flexibility and freedom to be individuals while still melding their sound with the people around them in a pleasing way that works, and creates a richer sound. I’d like to do this with youth as well as professionals and amateurs, all over the world!

Do you have any upcoming albums or projects to share with us?

We’re in the beginning stages of our next album. We’re also planning a whole new set of orchestral arrangements for a tour of Spain next year. I’d like to start working with more groups, and perhaps even creating an orchestra of our own, with players from all sides of the cultural, educational and economic spectra.

Discography:

Republic of Love (Ars Mundi, 2003)
Global Harmony (2007)
Everything Is Music (Ars Mundi, 2014)

More at http://atash.com

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Artist Profiles: Croatian Radiotelevision Tamburitza Orchestra

The Croatian Radiotelevision Tamburitza Orchestra is a unique instrumental ensemble founded in 1941 as a professional orchestra of Zagreb Radio. Since its founding, the orchestra has presented traditional Croatian music on Croatian Radio and Television, as well as at many concerts and festivals throughout Europe and has exhibited great care for the folk tradition.

In addition, a considerable part of the ensemble’s repertoire consists of works by 19th and 20th century Croatian composers such as Pajo Kolaric, Emil Cossetto, and Bozo Potocnik among many others, who have taken the four-stringed tambura beyond its traditional role in folk music and explored the rich possibilities of its use as a contemporary instrument. The orchestra’s repertoire has expanded over the years to encompass diverse musical genres, ranging from folk to classical music to jazz.

The orchestra has released several albums and has recorded over 10,000 folk songs, dances, and composed works that are archived in the Croatian Radio and Television library. They have also played with many renowned vocal and instrumental soloists and have been under the direction of Siniša Leopold since 1985.

Discography:

7 decades 1941 – 2011 : Croatian Composers in the Tamburitza Ambiance

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Artist Profiles: Tamara Obrovac

Tamara Obrovac – Photo by D. Stifanic

One of the most important artists on the Croatian music scene, Tamara Obrovac was born in 1962 in the Croatian city of Pula. This singer, flutist, and composer has become very popular in the past few years due to the influence of the Istrian folk music that has been the creative force of her works. Istria is a North Adriatic peninsula in a beautiful Croatian region, particular for its musical and dialectal tradition.

The folk music from Croatia’s coastal region of Istria is known for its own ancient and distinctive scale as well as a suite of unique instruments which evolved in conjunction with it.

Known for her highly aesthetic performances, Obrovac’s interpretations are suffused with spontaneity, inventive improvisation, freedom, humor and the ability to communicate with the audience.

By the beginning of the 1990s, the war in former Yugoslavia caused Obrovac to return to her native Istria. Untouched by war, where she dedicated herself to her own musical progress and prepared her first album entitled Triade, issued in 1996.This was a compilation of sorts, in which she presented three areas that were most present in her work at the time: jazz standards, original jazz compositions, and compositions inspired by Istrian folk music. With this material she introduced a fresh and a new way of thinking about Croatian jazz scene.

A stylistically more refined album entitled Ulika followed, on which all her compositions are sung in dialect. This is an exceptional work of unusual strength, distinctiveness, intellectual and spiritual expression with the roots, habits, folklore, language, music and spirit of Istria.

Obrovac is enthusiastically praised in the Croatian press for the way she uses the works of Istrian poets in her music and indeed her own talents as a poet. In addition to her international concert activities she has also composed for ballet and theater, film and even cartoons. She is also a member of the International Balkan Winds Ensemble and the multi-cultural Balkan Horses Band, which currently also includes well-known musicians from Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Macedonia, Greece and Serbia.

Discography:

Triade (1996)
Ulika (CBS, 1998)
Transhistria (Cantus, 2001)
Sve Pasiva – All fades away (Cantus, 2003)
Crni Kos (Kusztrich & Hrvatski centar Be, 2006)
Daleko je (Aquarius Records 2005)
Necu više jazz kantati – I won’t sing jazz any more (Aquarius Records, 2009)
Madirosa (Aquarius Records / Cantus 2011)
Ulika revival (Unit Records 2014)
Canto amoroso (2015)

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Artist Profiles: Patria

Patria was founded in 1993 in the town of Zupanja located in Croatia’s heartland of tamburica music, Slavonija, when the musicians were only sixteen. This six-piece ensemble was one of the finest examples of modern tamburica music.

As well as the folk music of their native Croatia, Patria presented the music of all the peoples of Pannonia (the Danube plain) in their concerts – performing Hungarian Csardas, Romanian horas and Gypsy ballads and kolo dances. They also added the works of the old classical masters, Mozart, Bach, Brahms and Verdi to their musical mix.

Discography:

Život Je Pjesma (Croatia Records, 2009)

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Artist Profiles: Lidija Bajuk

Lidija Bajuk

Lidija Bajuk is a Croatian writer whose poetry and books are based on the rich heritage of Slavic mythology. But above all, she is a musician with a strong desire to preserve traditional songs of her country and present them to the modern generations.

Her enchanting voice takes one on the journey into the ancient past of the archetypal images hidden in the deepest corners of the soul, into the self-discovery.

She and her guitar have traveled from Tibet to Colombia, from Greece to Canada. In July 2002 she represented Croatia at the festival Euromusica in Olympia, Greece, and in October 2002 she performed at the opening of Prix Europa festival in Berlin, Germany, together with the famous Croatian band Legen.

Lidija Bajuk’s performances vary from solo performances to those where she is accompanied with her band, or performances in duet with the famous Croatian pianist Matija Dedic.

She has participated in various compilations, including; Ethnoambient live / Archaic Songs from Croatia, (Kopito records & CBS Zagreb, 1995), Svehrvatski glazbeni festival Cro Etno Neum 96 (CBS & Croatia Records Zagreb & Croatica Mostar, 1996), and Etno Devedesete (CBS Zagreb 1998).

Discography:

Zora-Djevojka (1997)
Kneja (1999)
Tira Les (2001)
Luna (2005)

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