World Feed

¡Viva México!: Alondra de la Parra and Natalia Lafourcade at Town Hall

by Steven Pisano

DSC_5368 rev2
Photo by Steven Pisano

El Dia de los Muertos (“The Day of the Dead”) is a Latin American holiday when the dead are remembered a time to celebrate the lives of loved ones past. So it was appropriate that the Celebrate Mexico Now! Festival asked Mexican conductor Alondra de la Parra to bring her Philharmonic Orchestra of the Americas (POA) to perform at Town Hall on November 1.

Although this concert was a one-off - the POA was indefinitely suspended in 2011 - Ms. de la Parra was clearly overjoyed to be standing on the podium in front of the orchestra she created a decade ago to champion the music of Latin American composers, despite years of guest conducting orchestras around the world. And the musicians in the orchestra clearly loved being back together with her. How could you tell? Most orchestras do not smile this much! They played their instruments with great physicality, the violinists almost rising en masse out of their seats as they bowed their strings, like a flock of crows flying out of a wheat field. Weighing in at almost half the size of the New York Philharmonic, the POA packed a pound-for-pound sonic punch that filled Town Hall with a full, rich, and thrilling sound.

The orchestra performed music mostly by Mexican composers, such as Arturo Marquez (“Danzon No. 2”) and Jose Pablo Moncayo (“Huapango”). The one exception was a stirring and eerily menacing piece about Buenos Aires, “Tangazo,” by famed Argentinian tango composer Astor Piazzolla. The orchestra's performance was strong enough that one openly wondered if it might soon perform again on a regular basis. Ms. de la Parra is currently under consideration to lead the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, so if she is successful, that may need to wait.

Continue reading "¡Viva México!: Alondra de la Parra and Natalia Lafourcade at Town Hall" »

Nws 728


Ljova's "Signal Strength" Via Subway Wi-Fi

Our old friend Ljova was showing off his conductor chops in Bryant Park recently, leading a varied group of NYC subway musicians via FaceTime, connected through the MTA's Wi-Fi system (coming soon to a station near you.) Mixing everything from African Djembe to a musical saw, the music is as light and airy as the subway...well, isn't. You can watch the results above, or listen to a high-res audio file here

Nws 728


Africa Now! Festival Highlights the Music of South Africa at the Apollo Theater

by Steven Pisano
DSC_7032 rev2
Photo by Steven Pisano

The vibrant music presented at Saturday’s “Africa Now” concert at Harlem's Apollo Theater was strong evidence that music in contemporary South Africa has gone far beyond the more traditional isicathamiya and mbube singing styles popularized by Ladysmith Black Mambazo thirty years ago. Emceed by the legendary trumpet player Hugh Masekela, the evening was a showcase for the 3rd annual “Africa Now!” festival produced by the World Music Institute, one of the country’s leading presenters of world music.

Jumpstarting the show at the Apollo was a rousing performance by a cappella group The Soil, an affable trio that exhibeted tight harmonies while allowing each singer to showcase his or her voice through engaging solos. Composed of Buhlebendalo Mda (aka Buhle) and two brothers, Ntsika Fana Ngxanga (aka Da FanArtistc) and Luphindo Ngxanga (aka Master P), they sounded a bit like the early 70's Manhattan Transfer. But, if that group was all about airy, jazzy fun, The Soil is more earthbound, singing songs about everyday family life in Soweto. Their signature song, "Joy (We Are Family)," says it all.

Master P's virtuoso prowess at making beat box and other musical instrument sounds had the audience wondering where all the music was coming from with only three people on stage, all of whom appeared to be singing. The audience rewarded the irresistible performance with a standing ovation, which visibly thrilled the group. "Our mothers would be so proud!" they responded, clearly overwhelmed by the warm reception at the venerable Apollo.

Continue reading "Africa Now! Festival Highlights the Music of South Africa at the Apollo Theater" »

Nws 728


Söndörgő Captivates at Live@365

by Robert LeeperSondorgo

“We are Hungarian, but we also play…” and the list of musical influences on traditional Hungarian folk music—traditions of China, Turkey, parts of the Middle East, and, of course, Croat and Serbian music—flowed as Söndörgő took the Elebash Recital Hall Stage for the opening concert of the Live@365 Global Music Series. Surveying the room, the group, comprised of four brothers and a childhood friend, seemed genuinely thrilled to be finishing up their first US tour, and said they would be back for more soon.

Söndörgő hails from a small suburb of Budapest, and forsakes the more traditional fiddle led Hungarian groups for the perfervid rhythms made possible by the tambura, a mandolin like instrument with which they have become closely associated. Their wild blend of Eastern European dance music and a virtuosic handle on a variety of instruments, made for a party that could hardly be contained by the Recital Hall, which had people dancing in the aisles and shouting during the show.

Continue reading "Söndörgő Captivates at Live@365" »

Nws 728