Almost 20 years ago, a young student at the National University of Mexico went in search of a very old instrument in the mountains of the southern state of Oaxaca. Today, he has become a leading force in the revival of the instrument called the bajo quinto and the music played on it.
Ruben Luengas was working on a research project at the National School of Music in Mexico City in 1995. He wanted to focus on the music of his hometown, in the Mixtec region of Oaxaca, so he asked his 97-year-old grandmother to tell him about the music played at her wedding.
The music of Solas is always exciting perhaps because it's constantly evolving. Meet Seamus Egan and Win Horan who chat about their roles in shaping Irish-America's most influential band and share loads of their music with us.
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Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 3:41 pm
For New York Polyphony, it's location, location, location. The four-man vocal ensemble thrives on music from the Renaissance, much of it designed for cavernous, reverberant spaces. Think voices soaring through arched cathedrals. But madrigals by Flemish composer Orlando di Lasso, with their more intimate storytelling vibe, are suited for smaller venues — like, say, the living room of New York Polyphony bass Craig Phillips.
The story of English folk singer Bill Fay is both heartbreaking and inspiring. A gifted songwriter with a profoundly affecting voice, Fay released a couple of albums in the early '70s. But they didn't sell very well, he was dropped by his label and largely disappeared.
Like the music of his good friend Béla Bartók, Scottish composer Erik Chisholm's two piano concertos rely heavily on folk sources. But in Chisholm's case, the influences come from Scotland and India rather than Bartók's beloved Eastern Europe.
Megan Reilly strips away the gloss of modern country music to find an emotional sound rooted in folk and classic pop. Her latest album, The Well, departs significantly from its six-year-old predecessor; supported by an acoustic backbone, her new songs drift into retro territory, with occasional psychedelic guitar riffs and pop melodies that recall love ballads from the '60s.
When the pianist Esbjorn Svensson died in a scuba accident in 2008, many fans of his group, the Swedish trio known as E.S.T., wondered if there might be some unreleased experiments lurking in a studio vault. There were. Just out is a disc called 301, which was recorded in 2008 during sessions for the group's final album.
Originally published on Mon June 25, 2012 11:01 am
Musical genres always evolve in parallel worlds.
In the 1920s, composers of classical music such as Stravinsky and Copland began incorporating sensibilities of American jazz into their otherwise European musical culture. Various styles of folk music have always been fountainheads of inspiration for "classical" composers, so it was almost inevitable that blues-based music would make its way into the Western concert-music tradition.