Robert Browning Associates Host 5th Annual A WORLD IN TRANCE
A World in Trance, now in its fifth edition, has been host to some of the world's most captivating music, bringing people together in search of enlightenment and spirituality. This year's festival features virtuoso guitarist Derek Gripper, who masterfully interprets the hypnotic sounds of the West African kora (21-string harp-lute) on solo guitar (Mar 23); the intoxicating sounds of Bachir Attar and Mustapha Attar of the Master Musicians of Jajouka in a riveting meeting with American musicians Ned Rothenberg, Arrington de Dionysio and Ben Bennett (Mar 30); the classical music of India with Jayanthi Kumaresh, one of the world's leading veena (lute) players, accompanied by percussionists Jayachandra Rao and Pramath Kiran (Apr 12); and ecstatic interpretations of Sufi qawwaliwith Pakistan's Hamza Akram Qawwal & Brothers (Apr 13).
Saturday March 23, 2019 at 8:00pm Hypnotic Strings of Africa
Derek Gripper's exploration of Mali's greatest instrumental virtuosos has created a new form of classical guitar music out of one of Africa's richest musical traditions. Derek, a master guitarist from South Africa, magically conjures anew a centuries-old ancient African musical heritage, interpreting kora (21-string harp-lute) compositions on solo guitar - a feat which the renowned classical guitarist John Williams said he thought was "absolutely impossible until I heard Derek Gripper do it." His hypnotic guitar renditions of Toumani Diabaté's elaborate compositions for the 21-string West African kora are without precedent. His recent work includes transcriptions and improvisations based on the work of other Malian composer/performers such as Ali Farka Touré, Ballaké Sissoko, Salif Keita and Fanta Sacko, as well as his own compositions based on the music of the Western Cape of South Africa. His recording, Libraries on Fire, explores kora duets on solo guitar.
"The result is astounding...It's hard to imagine a more impressive and passionate rendering of Malian music on classical guitar." - Afropop Worldwide
"...depthless beauty....a staggering achievement on solo guitar." - Songlines Magazine
Saturday, March 30, 2019 at 8:00pm Jajouka Meets New York
Inspired by the intoxicating sounds of the legendary Master Musicians of Jakouka, this ensemble of musicians from both sides of the Atlantic - Morocco and the US - explore the potential for sound to trigger a state of ecstasy. Bachir Attar is a multi-instrumentalist acknowledged for his mastery of the ghaita, a double reed oboe-like instrument that is fundamental to the sound of the Master Musicians of Jajouka, the group that he leads. His brother, Mustapha Attar, also a member of the group, plays drums as well as ghaita. In addition, the brothers also perform on the lira (bamboo flute) and guimbri (3-stringed plucked lute). Saxophonist and clarinetist Ned Rothenberg, acclaimed throughout the world for his solo concerts and collaborations with diverse musicians, is particularly noted for his virtuosity of multiphonics and circular breathing. Arrington de Dionysio, a saxophonist, vocalist and visual artist who has collaborated recently with Bachir and Mustapha Attar, draws on a variety of traditions, including Tuvan throat singing and Indonesian trance music, for inspiration. Innovative percussionist Ben Bennett has developed a commanding synthesis of extended and traditional techniques on drums, and worked with cutting-edge improvisers around the world.
The Master Musicians of Jajouka, from the Rif mountains of Morocco, are noted for their trance-inducing ceremony that predates Islam and is thought to evoke the ancient rites of Pan, the goat-legged fertility god of ancient Greece. The music of the Master Musicians has been described as "a firestorm of sound" (New York Times). Embraced in the 1950s by artist Brion Gysin and writer Paul Bowles, the village of Jajouka became a mecca in the 1960s & '70s for celebrities such as the Rolling Stones, Ornette Coleman, and Timothy Leary.
"The Master Musicians music is one of the great legal highs, a thundering, transporting chorale of undulating drones and shrill, ecstatic fanfares..." Rolling Stone
"hypnotic...the music (of the Master Musicians of Jajouka) is an evocation of sustained ecstasy." Newsweek
Friday April 12, 2019 at 8:00pm Invoking the Goddess Saraswati
Jayanthi Kumaresh, one of India's foremost veena (lute) players, has captivated audiences around the world for over three decades with her entrancing performances. A sixth-generation musician and niece of the legendary violinist Lalgudi Jayaraman, she began playing the veena at the age of three. Blending the traditional and innovative, Jayanthi seeks to express the true voice of the veena, which transcends the boundaries of language and region. She will open this program with a long solo rendition of tanam, the repetitive pulse that engenders the ancient art of Vedic chant. Since the veena is attributed to Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of music and learning, this part of the program will evoke the feminine principle - Laasya - through an uninterrupted sequence of ragas. In the second part she will evoke the masculine principle - Thaandava, where she will be joined by the brilliant percussionists Jayachandra Rao (mrdangam - double-headed barrel drum) and Pramath Kiran (tabla - pair of hand drums, morching - jaw's harp).
"mesmerizing...soulful" The Hindu
Saturday April 13, 2019 at 8:00pm Sufi Chants of Pakistan
Pakistan's Hamza Akram Qawwal & Brothers, grandsons of the revered Munshi Raziuddin, have been acclaimed for their riveting interpretations of qawwali, the ecstatic improvisational Sufi vocal tradition made famous in the West by the late Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. This award-winning ensemble represents the 26th generation of the seven centuries-old Qawwal Bachon ka Gharana of Delhi founded by Saamat bin Ibrahim, the first qawwal of the subcontinent and principal student of mystic Amir Khusrau. Hamza has studied with the renowned Naseeruddin Saami, as well as with his uncle, Farid Ayaz Qawwal, with whom he and his brothers have toured. The ensemble builds a state of ecstasy through rhythmic handclapping, drumming and powerful vocals(similar to gospel in its call-and-response manner), and performs songs that range from 13th century mystical Persian poems to more recent Punjabi poems that speak of the intoxication of divine love.