Hema Ramaswamy

How Hema Ramaswamy Found Healing Through Traditional Indian Dance

In a report that may be of special interest to parents of children in our World Music in the Schools program, National Public Radio recently featured a story of healing through practice of Bharata Natyam, the traditional dance of South India . . .

Ramaswamy, who has Down syndrome, originally began dancing for health reasons. “But then it became part of her, and she really loves and enjoys it, and it took her 13 years with a lot of challenges, midway, to complete this,” explained her father, Ram. “And now today is a perfect day for her — her graduating in this art.”

Listen to, and read, the story on NPR

Musical Fix

A Musical Fix for American Schools: Music Training Boosts IQ, Focus, Persistence

A Wall Street Journal essay highlights the need for more music education in our schools . . .

American education is in perpetual crisis. Our students are falling ever farther behind their peers in the rest of the world. Learning disabilities have reached epidemic proportions, affecting as many as one in five of our children. Illiteracy costs American businesses $80 billion a year.

Many solutions have been tried, but few have succeeded. So I propose a different approach: music training. A growing body of evidence suggests that music could trump many of the much more expensive “fixes” that we have thrown at the education system.

Read the story at WSJ,com (paywall)

Singing and Praying Bands

The Singing and Praying Bands of Maryland and Delaware

Predating blues and jazz, but now disappearing, one of the oldest African-American performance traditions is honored by the National Endowment for the Arts . . .

According to oral tradition, the bands began with secret outdoor meetings in antebellum times. Later, this tradition became a part of Methodist prayer meetings that began with lined-out hymns (a way of singing initiated by a leader who would chant a line of a song and the congregation would sing it back) and concluded with a form of ring shout that blended West African traditions of song and movement in a circle.

NEA site, with video and audio.

WBUR radio story.

Vimeo video.

Musicians of Juarez

Dead Beats: The Graveside Musicians of Juárez

Musicians forced out of the cantinas Ciudad Juárez by violence have been eking out  a living in the graveyards of the town  . . .

Domingo Pineda tries to tune his instrument, but the old guitar has trouble keeping a note in the chilly winter of northern Mexico’s desert. Meanwhile, Mario Muñoz rubs his hands to rid his fingers of the cold. The men begin to play an upbeat melody with gloomy lyrics: “A wooden cross of the most simple kind/ Is all I ask for when I die.”

Read on at Vocativ.com.

Roza Eskenazi with fellow musicians

Roza Eskenazi: Canary of the Aegean

Remembering the “Queen of Rembetika,” Roza Eskenazi: a new book and video documentary . . .

She was a prodigious and prolific talent, revered for her soul and her charisma, as well as for giving a voice to the underclass: the displaced, the poor and the desperate. Yet until now, her music and the extraordinary details of her life have remained relatively unknown.

Read the story at The Guardian.

Cup of Java

Cup of Java: Gamelan Music & Dance from Yogyakarta, Nov. 29 in LA

Looks like a first-rate performance of Javanese court music and dance, featuring ten dancers from the Indonesian Institute of the Arts (ISI), Yogyakarta, and musicians from CalArts, upcoming on Saturday, November 29, 2014 in LA.  Highly recommended!

This program will include a broad range of Javanese works from refined mask dancing, to a duel of elaborately adorned woman warriors, to a male quartet of dynamic strength and dignity — all to the dramatic soundscapes of the gamelan. The culmination of this diverse program is Karna’s Choice — a story about the sorrows of war, the love of a mother, and the loyalty of brothers — as retold from the beloved Indian epic, the Mahabharata.

http://www.festivalofsacredmusic.org/event/cup-of-java/

While you’re at this site, check out their interesting blog:

http://www.festivalofsacredmusic.org/category/blog/

Cosmas Magaya

Cosmas Magaya on a mission to preserve African music.

Internationally renowned Zimbabwean mbira player Cosmas Magaya is in California for a Santa Cruz/Bay Area residency, which includes stops at Stanford, UC Santa Cruz, and California State University, Monterey Bay.

He realized [the mbira] represented more than an instrument to him: The mbira meant family and spirituality. His parents regularly invited mbira players to participate in religious ceremonies, as it’s commonly used in weddings, funerals and healing rituals among the Shona people.

 

Rita Forrester

Where the Hills and Hollows Are Alive With Music

The New York Times’ Cultured Traveler visits Southern Appalachia to savor its traditional music landscape . . .

Southern Appalachia had become known for its musical heritage by the late 1800s. Many of its Scots-Irish settlers brought their jigs and reels with them when they emigrated. . . . A visitor can pack a week’s worth of music into a weekend just about any time of the year.

Read the story on NYTimes.com.

Amir Khan

Rediscover the virtuosity of Hindustani vocalist Amir Khan

Vocalist Amir Khan (1912-1974) was one of the major trend setters in Hindustani (North Indian) music in the second half of the twentieth century. An article with a nice selection of classic YouTube videos of the artist in performance . . .

Without any trace of flamboyance, the brooding and introspective nature of his music envelops the listeners.

Check the full story at Scroll.in.