Performing Arts: Music
November 7, 2013
Chromatically tied to Byzantine folk and liturgical music, Balkan music from Turkey, Greece, Serbia, Bosnia, Armenia and Israel share customs and musical scales. Even though Balkan music resembles Gregorian chants not all Balkan music is mournful, but the minor chords lean towards smoky, haunting melodies scented with loss.

Conceived by Jordi Savall, The White Light Festival’s “The Cycle of Life: A Musical Exploration of the Balkans” at Alice Tully Hall opens on casually seated performers resembling a congregation of villagers making music for a celebration. Everyone was distinctive in their own way, but Lior Elmaleh’s voice communicates an eerie timeless quality, and a timbre that makes it audible from one village hilltop to another—in other words, throughout Avery Fisher Hall.

Clear voiced, and utterly charming, Irini Derebei delivered the dancey Cypriot songs with the wit and panache they deserve. All the instruments are traditional and include Qanun (a plucked trapezoidal zither), Oud (round backed, pear shaped string instrument), Duduk (Armenian oboe), Santur (Iranian hammered dulcimer) Morisca (medieval stringed musical guitar with a long thin neck) and various percussion instruments.

The song cycle skipped through the seasons and ended on (RE) Conciliation harmonized in the Christian, Muslim and Hebrew traditions. Mr. Savall proved that although separated by borders, Balkan music issues from the same family tree.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

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