HOMEGROWN: The Music of America
A free noon concert series presented by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in cooperation with the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. All concerts are in the Coolidge Auditorium (located on the Ground Floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress). NO TICKETS REQUIRED.
Klezmer and other Yiddish music from New York
The An-sky Yiddish Heritage Ensemble -- renowned Yiddish folk singers Michael Alpert and Ethel Raim, tsimblist (hammered dulcimer player) Pete Rushefsky and violinist Jake Shulman-Ment -- celebrates the hundredth Anniversary of the historic An-sky Expedition. This 1911-1914 ethographic expedition systematically documented the Jewish folk culture of dozens of communities in Ukraine and White Russia. It is named for its leader, Yiddish writer and folklorist Semyon An-sky, pen name of Shloyme Zaynvl Rapoport (1863-1920), who is best known as the author of the groundbreaking play The Dybbuk. The An-sky materials, located at the Russian Museum of Ethnography in St. Petersburg, stand as an unparalleled record of a lost, preindustrial Jewish society that was carried out in the Yiddish language. Inspired by An-sky’s work, and affiliated with the New York-based Center for Traditional Music and Dance (www.ctmd.org ), the An-sky Yiddish Heritage Ensemble is a supergroup of four leading performers and researchers of Yiddish music who present a diverse program of rare Yiddish folksongs and exciting klezmer instrumentals collected through field and archival research. The ensemble also performs original music rooted in the tradition, and in doing so keeps the flame of Yiddish culture alive. Photo by Janina Wurbs.
Garifuna Music and Dance from California and New York
Libaya Baba means "Grandfather’s Grandchildren." The group consists of three brothers Jeffrey, Kelsie, and Dayton Bernardez, and their cousin, Greg Palacio. Their first influence came from their grandfather, Cyril Antonio, and other master drummers of Dangriga, Belize. After migrating to Los Angeles, California, in the late 1970s, they felt the need to preserve their indigenous Garifuna culture, which has both Caribbean and West African elements. Libaya Baba has retained the traditional format of call and response in songs, to uphold the memory of their ancestors. Their music is accompanied by a pair of Sisira (maracas), one Primero (small wooden snare drum), two Segundas (mid size & large wooden bass drums) Conch and Turtle shells. The genres of music they play include Hüngü-hüngü, Paranda, Punta, Kulióu, Wanaragua, Hupi Malad, Warini, Gunjéi, “Two for Shilling,” Chumba and Chárikanári. They have intrigued audiences throughout the U.S.
Music of the Danube to the Carpathians from Ohio
Harmonia presents traditional folk music of Eastern Europe, ranging from the Danube to the Carpathians. Its repertoire reflects the cultures of this region: Hungarian, Slovak, Ukrainian, Romanian, Croatian and Gypsy. Performed on authentic folk instruments, and styled after turn-of-the-century eastern-European Gypsy bands, their music is drawn from both the urban and rural traditions of eastern Europe. The musicians come from varied eastern-European backgrounds; in Harmonia they have found a common musical language. In addition to being polished performers on instruments as varied as accordion, upright bass, violin, pan-flute, and cimbalom (hammered dulcimer), Harmonia’s members are adept at explaining their music and culture to diverse audiences. Harmonia brings to the concert stage the vitality and excitement of ethnic weddings, celebrations, and smoky cafés that inspired composers such as Bartok, Brahms and Liszt.
R&B and Gospel from Kentucky
Hailing from Covington, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio, the Brotherhood Singers (formerly The Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers) are among the very few remaining gospel quartet-style groups that still perform in the old-school a cappella fashion. The Singers specialize in the intricate and emotional four-part harmony "jubilee" style pioneered by such legendary groups as the Dixie Hummingbirds, The Golden Gate Quartet, the Soul Stirrers and The Harptones of Cincinnati. The Brotherhood Singers started singing at the 9th Street Baptist Church in Covington. The group has performed in churches, secular music venues and television spots throughout the U.S., as well as in Canada and Spain, which they have toured 17 times. In April 2012, they toured Russia as part of the first “Festival of Traditional American Music,” a joint project of AFC, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, and CEC ArtsLink. They sing primarily Gospel but have recently added patriotic songs and feel-good R&B to their repertoire.
Traditional Kuchipudi Dance from Maryland
Kalanidhi Dance Company was founded in 2005. Its artistic approach is to explore creative and contemporary ideas through the vocabulary of Kuchipudi, while retaining the essence and integrity of the classical form. Kuchipudi, one of India's seven main classical dance styles, combines fast rhythms with fluid movements, creating a blend of control and abandon, strength and delicacy. Expressive facial techniques and subtle body movements serve as the cornerstone of Kuchipudi and document and preserve the centuries-old body language of Andhra Pradesh women. Trained in the rigors of the Vempati style, the Kalanidhi Dance Company very quickly gained a reputation for producing new and original choreography that has been praised by Indian and American dance critics. An important part of the company’s mission is to promote dialogue in the arts and to nourish creativity through interaction with artists of other styles and genres. Kalanidhi Dance toured India in October 2007 to participate alongside some of India’s best dance troupes in the Ananya festival, one of India’s most prestigious dance festivals. Kalanidhi Dance was also presented at India’s premier classical dance institution, Kalakshetra in Chennai.
Traditional Conjunto Dance music from Texas
Los Texmaniacs mix the simplest yet finest ingredients of Texas music to create a sound solidly rooted in tradition, exploding with contemporary vitality. Their versatility has led them to perform at The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, The International Accordion Festival, The Kennedy Center, The Governor of Texas Ball, and many major festivals overseas in countries such as Germany, Holland, and Spain. Founder Max Baca is a renowned innovator on the bajo sexto, a twelve string guitar-like instrument, which customarily provides rhythm accompaniment for the button accordion, creating the core of the Texas conjunto sound. Los Texmaniacs is a product of Baca’s wide-ranging experience touring and recording with his father's family conjunto, Flaco Jimenenz, the original Texas Tornados, Los Super Seven, and even the Rolling Stones. His travels have included tours to Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Kosovo to entertain American troops. He has appeared on national television programs such as Conan O' Brien, David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Austin City Limits, and has been featured in several documentaries, including Songs of the Homeland, American Roots Music, and Latin Music USA. Max has participated on ten Grammy-winning projects, including the double-platinum CD for the Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge. In 2009 Los TexManiacs won a Grammy Award for their album Borders Y Bailes, released on Smithsonian Folkways.
Sephardic Music from Virginia
This concert celebrates Flory Jagoda’s internationally recognized career as singer, composer, and teacher of Sephardic song, and will honor her role as “keeper of the flame” for preserving, perpetuating, and expanding this venerable Jewish cultural tradition. Family members and musical colleagues and from the Washington, D.C., area and beyond will join Jagoda to perform the songs that she has taught them in her quest to transmit her family’s musical heritage and keep it vibrantly alive. A 2002 recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship, presented by the National Endowment for the Arts, Jagoda later served as a Master Artist in the Folklife Apprenticeship Program for the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Born in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 1923, Flory Jagoda learned many songs from her Nona (grandmother) and other family members, who were known as the “Singing Altaračs.” Her original compositions and arrangements have been performed and recorded by singers and groups in the U.S. and Europe and many are now firmly entrenched in Sephardic song tradition.
Upper Louisiana French Creole Music from Missouri
Dennis Stroughmatt, born and raised in southeastern Illinois, is an authority on French Creole music and culture of “Upper Louisiana,” aka Illinois, Missouri, and Indiana, which came to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. By an amazing string of chance events, young Dennis Stroughmatt came upon the descendants of French Midwestern settlers, and he spent over three years in southeast Missouri learning to speak Illinois French Creole, play the fiddle, and sing many of the traditional songs that have thrived in the region for over three hundred years. He would also go on to live, work and play music in the “Cajun country” of Louisiana, and to study in Quebec, thus completing the circle of French culture in North America. With the blessing of the Creole people of the Midwest, Dennis Stroughmatt et l’Espirit Creole are its passionate ambassadors, expanding interest and excitement in a region that has been, in many ways, ignored by the history books. As a result, the French music, language, stories, and culture once hidden away in the Missouri Ozarks now has a voice in the wider world. As they say in the hills: “On est toujours icitte: We are still here!” Learn more: www.creolefiddle.com
Hālau Hula (Hula School) of Hawai`i Community College, Hilo, Hawai`i
Unukupukupu is the traditional Hālau Hula (Hula School) of Hawai`i Community College, Hilo, Hawai`i . Here ancient dances and songs, rooted in the sacred `Aiha`a Pele (Ritual Dance of Volcanic Phenomena) intermingle with the rigor of academic inquiry. To experience the particular fiery style of hula termed `Aiha`a Pele, one is trained to call up the fire within the body and to dance until sweat shines at the temples and forehead. Under the cultural and academic stewardship of Dr. Taupōuri Tangarōto, Unukupukupu is a community of traditional dancers functionally aware that Hula is one of the world’s sacred dances of environmental kinship and global connections.
Traditional Croatian Singing from Washington State
Ruže Dalmatinke, from Seattle, Washington. Deep passion and intense devotion to Croatian musical heritage have kept the group active since 1981, and have inspired the group's lead vocalists, sisters Binki and Alma, since childhood. Binki Franulovic Spahi (lead voice) and Alma Franulovic Plancich (second voice) lead Ruze Dalmatinke in singing, and are responsible for the group's adherence to traditional purity in their music. From the town of Vela Luka on the island of Korcula, Dalmatia, Croatia, they immigrated with their family to the United States after World War II. Having sung together since childhood, the sisters brought with them their lifestyle of singing, as well as an oral tradition generations old. Their voices are accompanied by instrumentation, adding to the vocal harmonies. The band members, also vocalists, along with Binki and Alma, perform music from the many different regions of Croatia - from the tranquil Dalmatian ballads to the strident melodies of the interior.
French-Canadian Fiddle Music & Songs from New Hampshire
Patrick Ross and Jean Theroux will present a program of fiddle tunes and songs drawn from their French-Canadian heritage. Ross, a frequent winner at fiddle contests throughout Northern New England, is a fifth-generation fiddler. Theroux is a well respected community-based fiddler and vocalist. They will be joined by Dalton Binette and Bow Thayer. All four musicians hail from the northernmost area of New Hampshire, adjacent to the Canadian border, across which people and cultural influences have flowed steadily over the last hundred years or more. The fiddle, accordion, and guitar are the most common instruments used in French-Canadian music. The playing style is spirited and based upon rhythmic patterns of the Celtic world: jigs, reels, and waltzes. However, the music is not exactly Celtic: the bowing style has a different swing and the tunes are ornamented in a distinctive way. Singing in the French language with family and friends is also an important part of French-Canadian musical heritage, and many of the songs are classified as “chansons à répondre,” or “call and response,” a style developed so a large group can join in the fun without knowing all the words.
Flatpick Guitar and Fiddle Music from Kanawha County, West Virginia
Bobby Taylor, Robert Shafer, and Robin Kessinger, three of the Kanawha Valley’s best traditional musicians, have played together over many years at various musical events in the Valley and throughout West Virginia. They were heavily influenced by the musical talents of Clark Kessinger, a world renowned fiddler. Clark Kessinger recorded many tunes on the Brunswick label from 1928 to 1930, and later, five albums in the 1960s. He has influenced a world of fiddlers and musicians for many decades. Clark Kessinger lived near where Robert, Robin and Bobby grew up in the Kanawha Valley, and Robin is his great nephew. This trio uses Clark’s beautiful arrangements as a foundation for the music they play. Just like Clark Kessinger, who used every technique possible, they continue to explore new and exciting ways to play the great old tunes.
African American A Capella Sacred Music from Delaware and Maryland
The Singing and Praying Bands of Delaware and Maryland (Eastern and Western Shore) belong to an African American devotional/musical tradition that is unique to the Delmarva region, probably the oldest living African American musical tradition in Delaware and Maryland. In the past, almost half of the Methodist churches around the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays had their own band. With origins in West African religion, Christianity, and African American ring shout traditions, Singing & Praying Bands developed during slavery. The ministry of the Singing & Praying Bands takes place in host churches, often at a camp meeting after an evening preaching service is over. Members line out a hymn, pray a prayer, and end with a spiritual in which the group forms a circle, marching counterclockwise out onto the church grounds. Since the 1950s, the bands have diminished in number, and the singers have consolidated into one large band comprised of fifty to a hundred active members from twenty to thirty different churches. They come together most Sundays in the spring, summer, and fall, at a different church each week, and hold service there, keeping this tradition alive.
Mexican Trío Romántico from Texas
The Mexican trío romántico consists of three suave male voices backed by two, and sometimes three, guitars, singing romance-drenched lyrics in lush harmony. The style rocketed to pan-Latin popularity in 1948 with the pioneering group Trío Los Panchos. Los Tres Reyes (The Three Kings), known as “the last of the great trios,” epitomize the trio sound and continue to make it a mainstay of Mexican acoustic music. High-voice Cuban singer Bebo Cárdenas joins founding members, brothers Gilberto and Raúl Puente, to show us how, in Cárdenas’s words, “The trío romántico is synonymous with intimacy.” The trio has a new album on the Smithsonian Folkways label called Romancing the Past (SFW40562).
Paraguayan Folk Harp Ensemble from Nevada
The Paraguayan folk harp is one of the most recognizable folk music traditions in South America. Las Vegas resident Mariano Gonzales mesmerizes audiences with his delightful and sometimes surprising repertoire on this handcrafted traditional instrument. Mariano’s career as a professional harpist, composer, and harp maker has taken him around the world and into multiple musical genres, but he remains enamored of the unique and exquisite Guarania folk music of his homeland. Born and raised in Buena Vista, Paraguay, he began playing the harp at the age of five, under the tutelage of his father and grandfather. His passion for music propelled him onto the world stage where he expanded his repertoire to include lively Latin rhythms, free-spirited jazz, and original arrangements of popular standards. Since moving to Las Vegas to tour with Tony Orlando and Dawn, he has generously shared his beloved harp with local audiences in community venues. His solo performances have included concerts at prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall in New York and Suntory Hall in Tokyo.