TITLE: Merita Halili and the Raif Hyseni Orchestra
SPEAKER: Merita Halili, Raif Hyseni
EVENT DATE: 2008/06/19
FORMAT: Video + Captions
RUNNING TIME: 61 minutes
TRANSCRIPT: View Transcript (link will open in a new window)
Merita Halili and the Raif Hyseni Orchestra perform Albanian music from New York, celebrating 40 years of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, as part of the Homegrown Concert Series sponsored by the American Folklife Center.
Speaker Biography: Merita Halili is one of Albania's top performers. Born in the capital city of Tirane, Merita grew up singing the lyric songs of her native region of central Albania. Her nationwide debut came in 1983, at the age of 17, when she sang at the National Folk Festival in the town of Gjirokaster. Soon afterwards she began to perform on Albanian Radio and Television and as a soloist with the State Ensemble for Folk Songs and Dances. She subsequently became one of the most popular singers in the country. The repertoire for which Merita is best known is that of the towns of central Albania (Shqiperia e Mesme), particularly Tirane, Elbasan, Kavaje and Durres. As she was growing up, Merita modeled her singing not only on family music making but also on recordings of older singers. Merita was among the first singers in Albania to release her own recording, which still sells briskly wherever Albanians live. Perhaps her greatest recognition came in 1995, when she was awarded first prize at a gala festival held in Tirane, in which 90 singers from throughout the Albanian Diaspora participated.
Speaker Biography: Raif Hyseni, Merita's husband and principal accompanist, hails from the Republic of Kosova, which has a large Albanian majority. Before moving to Tirane in 1992, Raif was a well-known radio and television performer in Prishtine, the capital of Kosova, where he was a member of the group Besniket. Through his recordings and media appearances, Raif has become known as a major innovator on the accordion.