Posts Tagged ‘Classical Music’


Here is a lovely piece of music written by Calliope Tsoupaki, a Greek composer living in the Netherlands, whose performance I caught at the Dutch Classical Meeting. She has written this especially for the supple tenor voice of Marcel Beekman, and you will see
immediately that there is a special musical rapport between these two. That is another thing which makes this video special Ms. Tsoupaki does not usually perform her works personally, having scored them for choruses, orchestras, and chamber ensembles. But this stripped back presentation serves to enhance the architecture of the composition and even those of you who may shy away from modern classical music will find extraordinary beauty and lyricism in this piece. I personally find it haunting, lovely, and very Greek in essence.
Part of that essence stems for the lyrics themselves, which are a poem by Kafavi, called “Thimisou, soma” (Remember, body) in which the poet, now an
old man ruminates on his youth and early erotic experiences.

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I met Maria Pomianowska in Samarkand, where she attended the Sharq Taronalari festival as a guest speaker. But as you can see, this woman could well have been not only one of the musicians performing, but one of its finest. I heard her jamming out on the terrace of the Afrasiyob hotel, and immediately knew that I wanted to get her and that unusual instrument of hers alone for a solo videotaping. We found a room between the basement floor lobby and the kitchen that had decent acoustics and was reasonably quiet (considering its proximity to the kitchen). I just said “play” and off she went. The room was not that well lit, so please forgive the somewhat grainy image.
Maria’s credentials are impressive. She graduated in cello at the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. There she was granted a scholarship to learn the sarangi under the guidance of maestro Pandit Ram Narayan in India. From 1997-2002 she lived in Japan, and in 1999 she started composing cross cultural works which were commissioned by cellist Yo Yo Ma. In her continuing efforts to find connections between Asian music with her own cultural heritage, together with Dr. Ewa Dahlig and violin maker A. Kuczkowski she managed to successfully reconstruct a Suka from Bilgoraj which is what you see and hear in this video.
There are many kinds of “fusions” happening in music these days. Maria seems to be her own personal reactor, following her love of western classical music to an equal devotion to Indian classical music, and then adding a dash of Polish gestalt to the mix.
Ms. Pomianawska teaches music and runs a festival of world music in Warsaw. For more information on this amazing woman and musician, visit:

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I first encountered the Hurdy-Gurdy eons ago at a concert by Gabriel Yacoub at the French Institute here in NYC. He was accompanied by Giles Chabenat on the instrument and I was immediately taken with what Yacoub described as “the medieval synthesizer.” It had a sound that was simultaneously ancient and immediate, and I never forgot it.

Fast forward, and another great master of the instrument, Matthias Loibner, was coming to town. I was not that familiar with his work, or his duo with Bosnian singer Natasa Mirkovic-DeRo, but it was intriguing to be told that while they would be presenting a folk repertoire at Joe’s Pub, they would be performing a classical program at the Austrian Cultural Forum the next night. (Both were part of the Forum’s very varied programming.)

The program was their interpretation of “Winterreise,” Schubert’s renowned song cycle based on the poems of Wilhelm Müller. Here, as you will see, the classical training and sensibility of both artists comes to the fore: Mirkovic-DeRo, negotiates the subtleties of each song with bel canto ease, while Loibner coaxes Schubert’s arrangements for piano out of his very different instrument with wonderful sensitivity. I present two songs from the cycle.

What is apparent from both of these videos is that in the hands of the right musician, the Hurdy-Gurdy is a fully modern instrument, and not a relic from another time. And if you want to know more about Mr. Loibner and the Hurdy-Gurdy, you can learn more here.

Also, the venerable Rootsworld website has published an article and CD overview of Loibner’s oeuvre.

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Here’s where you’ll find my weekly original world music video blogs that appear on Huffington Post, as well as an archive starting in April of 2009.

This is also the place where you will find video that is exclusive to my site. I’ve traveled to places like Uzbekistan, Morocco, and Taiwan and no matter where I go I have found amazingly talented and creative people working in every genre from the deepest traditions to the cutting edge.

It’s been incredibly rewarding to interview them and to capture some of what they do on video. Enjoy what you see and hear, and let me know what you think. I welcome your feedback.