Leading youth choirs from four continents will descend upon the Royal Albert Hall in London for a unique concert this April. Entitled A Celebration of World Voices, the occasion aims to bring together some of the premier young ensembles from across the globe for musical exchange.
Among the performers are the Soweto-based Mzansi Youth Choir (pictured) who famously performed at the FIFA World Cup opening ceremony in Johannesburg. Sourcing performers from underprivileged areas, it has consistently offered life-changing opportunities for artistic development and its involvement in this project acts as another exciting venture for the highly-talented ensemble, consisting of 45 choristers. The event is part of a wider festival that features a dedicated outreach programme in primary schools across the UK.
Deputy artistic director of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, Greg Beardsell, is hopeful that the occasion and its educational programmes can act as a catalyst for further occasions. “We want to play a role in welcoming other cultures to the UK and building bridges to the worldwide choral community. The Royal Albert Hall was the obvious partner, and I’m thrilled that the venue shares our vision for what this festival can achieve.”
A Celebration of World Voices takes place on April 15 at the Royal Albert Hall
This is Scandinavian folk music played on two instruments straight out of Tolkien: the Swedish nyckelharpa, part fiddle, part hurdy-gurdy; and the Hardanger fiddle, the ornate hobbit-like violin of Norway. Both instruments create a unique other-worldly sound that transports listeners to far-off Nordic lands, here represented by both traditional-style dances such as the Swedish polka but also contemporary music that has used these extraordinary instruments to create interesting sound palettes. Playlist by Tim Woodall for Songlines.
Synonymous with the rise of salsa, the Fania label was created in 1964 by Dominican bandleader Johnny Pacheco and US lawyer Larry Masucci to give voice – and a vital dance-friendly soundtrack – to the lives of the thousands of Puerto Rican and Dominican migrants who had arrived in the New York barrios of Harlem, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Signing up emerging artists such as Cheo Feliciano, Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez, Ray Baretto, Celia Cruz, Rubén Blades and many more besides, Fania would evolve a house style that fused Afro-Caribbean rhythms, Cuban son, Latin jazz, funk, mambo and blues, while allowing individual artists the space to experiment and establish their own takes on what would collectively be dubbed Nuyorican salsa. In retrospect, it can be claimed that Fania did for Latin American rhythms what Motown did for soul, commercialising and globalising a hybrid, hitherto marginalised music and culture. Playlist by Chris Moss for Songlines.
In the brisk and sometimes gloomy winter days, what’s needed is something to regale us. Here’s a selection to help you embrace the wet and windy weather and celebrate the crisp chilliness of the season. Sixteen tracks to warm your heart and soul by the fireside, until it’s time to say farewell to winter’s frost and fire. Playlist by Tony Gillam for Songlines.