Posts Tagged ‘encounters’

Songlines Encounters Festival 2016, Kings Place, London, June 2-4

Posted on April 1st, 2016 in Live, News, Recent posts by .


Photography by Seppo Samuli

Songlines Encounters Festival returns to Kings Place, London, in June

Celebrating its sixth year, the upcoming Songlines Encounters Festival champions adventurous and groundbreaking artists we feel passionate about. This year’s programme of concerts features music from South Africa, Mali, Hungary, Ghana, Finland and the UK.

Book your tickets on the Kings Place website or call +44 (0)20 7520 1490.

Thursday June 2, Hall 1, 8:00pm

The trio from Finland’s Karelia region perform the UK premiere of their new album Viena, selected as a Top of the World choice in our latest issue (April, #116). 
 ”I’m delighted that we’ve been able add Varttina for the opening concert of Songlines Encounters this year. They are extraordinary singers and with Viena they have made music that is wonderfully fresh from deep traditions that go back years,” says editor-in-chief Simon Broughton.


Friday June 3, Hall 1, 8:00pm AND Saturday June 4, Hall 1, 2:00pm

John Williams & Derek Gripper
Acclaimed guitar virtuoso John Williams plays alongside South African guitarist Derek Gripper; as well as playing solo, the pair will play a selection of kora music of West Africa arranged by Gripper.

Due to popular demand, the duo will repeat Friday’s performance the following day at an earlier time of 2pm.


Friday June 3, Hall 2, 9:45pm

Vula Viel
London based five-piece Vula Viel, led by percussionist Bex Burch, showcase their versatile mix of electronica, minimalism, and Ghanaian Dagaare xylophone music.


Saturday June 4, Hall 1, 8:00pm

Roby Lakatos Ensemble
Hungarian violinist Roby Lakatos revisits some of the Gypsy repertoire of ancestor János Bihari. The Stradivarius player will delve into rare pieces of music ingrained in the family tradition.


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Feature | An Interview with Duncan Chisholm

Posted on May 28th, 2015 in Recent posts by .

Duncan Chisholm

Duncan Chisholm will be at this year’s Songlines Encounters Festival on June 5 along with Iranian sisters Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat

Scottish fiddle player and composer Duncan Chisholm speaks to Tim Woodall about the importance of his heritage and how the Highlands have inspired his music

Duncan Chisholm has had a momentous – and creatively prolific – few years. In the studio, the Scottish violinist had success with his highly personal Strathglass Trilogy of albums, inspired by and depicting the natural beauty of his clan home region near Inverness. This defining statement of musical and personal identity was followed by an epic, orchestral Celtic Connections gig and live album released at the end of 2013, arranged from the same material. The music is presented in yet another incarnation as part of a second live project this February, with Chisholm’s regular trio with Matheu Watson (guitar) and Jarlath Henderson (uilleann pipes and whistles) boosted by a string trio and piano for three dates. The Strathglass Trilogy, it seems, is the gift that keeps on giving. “It has been such a major part of my life for six years,” says Chisholm. “The live album gave the music the sort of cinematic widescreen sound I love so much, but here we are trying to give a flavour of what happened at Celtic Connections, but on a smaller scale.”

The tour is titled The Gathering, which, in its allusion to both Highland culture and a “group of like-minded musicians coming together,” is a neat tag for a project led by Chisholm. Few artists can have such deep, rich connections to the landscape and culture of their home. The Chisholm clan has origins dating back a millennium: “I feel very privileged to be in a position to express myself and my own feelings through my music, but also be part of a thousand years of culture, to be able to convey to people around the world not only who I am, but also where I come from and, to a great degree, the history of my people and my country.” It was this heritage that Chisholm celebrated with the Strathglass albums, for which he found inspiration from soundtracks. “I love the way film music manipulates our senses. Painting pictures through music lies at the heart of what I want to achieve as a musician. If I can move myself with what I’m doing, my hope is that it will follow on with the listener – that they will get a sense of the atmosphere of the scene I am trying to portray.”

This effect was achieved in part by the emotionally direct melodies delivered by Chisholm’s warm, focused fiddle playing. “When I am learning a tune, I imagine singing it,” he says. “The sense of breath needs to be there, as well as the frailties that I love – and the rich, confident tone – of the human voice.” Also important is the evocative, layered instrumental soundscape of Chisholm’s records, which give them a distinctive, timeless quality. This blend of old music and new ideas is important to Chisholm’s outlook for Scottish music.

He learned the fiddle in the 70s, when Scottish players were defined to a large extent by where they came from. “I still have a sound you would very much associate with the Highlands, but I’ve spent the whole of my professional life creating a sound that people would immediately associate with me.” He continues: “There is, I would say, two parallel paths in Scottish music. One maintains the tradition and keeps us all grounded. The other path is constantly changing with experimentation and collaboration, and that has taken our music to myriad new places in the past ten to 15 years, with musicians listening to music from places like India and America, and being influenced by it. This melting pot is incredibly good for not only the individuals involved, but for the country. We all feed from it.”

Like many artists, Chisholm straddles these traditional and experimental music worlds, which will be demonstrated during his February tour and also his gig as part of the Songlines Encounters Festival in June. As well as pieces with his regular trio, Chisholm will perform with Iranian vocalists and sisters Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat. He is looking forward to a spontaneous, onstage collaboration: “A lot of the timbres and the nuances of their music sound almost Gaelic,” he says. “Music has the ability to bring people really close, without anyone realising that you’re not conversing in the same language. It’s about picking up bits of melody and building on an idea that someone has given – finding something in your own tradition that fits the rhythm and chords of what’s being played.”


Among all these vibrant musical projects, there have been other important events in Chisholm’s life, both professionally and personally. Scotland has had a historic 12 months. Both the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the independence referendum brought international attention to Scotland and an unprecedented political and cultural debate about Scottish identity, something Chisholm has been doing with his music throughout his playing life. “People were incredibly inspired by what happened this year,” says Chisholm,  a supporter of an independent Scotland. “Glasgow benefitted hugely from the Commonwealth Games; it gave the world a view of how great a city Glasgow is.” He was not just a spectator at the Games either, performing in the opening ceremony as part of a group led by Scottish classical violinist Nicola Benedetti. “It was a wonderful experience – not like anything else I’ve done.”

More personally, later in 2014 Chisholm underwent life-saving surgery after being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel complaint. He was due to tour the US with Julie Fowlis, with whom he has performed for years, but became very ill and had to turn back. The experience has re-emphasised to Chisholm what music means to him. “I am very much recovered now, but for a while I didn’t play much music because of the illness. Picking up that fiddle again – after six weeks, the longest I’ve been without playing in my adult life – and just playing for the enjoyment of making music was the biggest boost I could have ever received. Looking back, at times I maybe took for granted what I did – not only making a living out of it, but just playing music. I can guarantee that I will never take it for granted again.”

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Interview | Gisela João: “I hate art for the elite”

Posted on May 27th, 2015 in News, Recent posts by .


Before her debut UK tour and Songlines Encounters Festival performance, Simon Broughton catches up with fado singer Gisela João.

Click here to purchase your tickets for Songlines Encounters Festival at London’s Kings Place

When Gisela João talks about the fados she sings it’s like she’s really living them and feeling them. I ask her about ‘Madrugada sem Sono’ (Sleepless at Dawn), one of her signature songs that shows off the low, dark side of her voice. “It’s just before dawn and I’m trying to forget my lover,” she says. “It’s that love that you want completely – sex, hot fire, everything. But I’m thinking about everything I’ve done to forget that person, all alone, waiting for dawn, I just bite the sheet on my bed and feel jealous.” Steamy stuff.

I’m talking to João at Babel Med in Marseille where she gave a performance that totally held her audience – at an event that usually has professionals darting from one thing to another to catch a bit of everything. As well as the crowd in Marseille, she also impressed a handful of Songlines Music Travellers who were lucky enough to catch her at Senhor Vinho in Lisbon, in 2011.

Gisela João grew up in Barcelos in the north of Portugal, not the fado heartland. The eldest of seven children, she looked after her brothers and sisters when her mother left for work at six every morning. She heard Amália Rodrigues on the radio when she was seven or eight years old and became obsessed with the poetry. “While my friends were singing ‘Ace of Spades’ and Bananarama, I was singing fado,” she laughs.

As a teenager she started singing Fridays and Saturdays in a fado restaurant in Barcelos for €15 a night. Then she went to Porto and then to Lisbon where she was signed up by Maria da Fé at Senhor Vinho. “But I missed my friends in Porto. For the first year I was crying every night.”

One of João’s self-imposed challenges is to bring fado to people who don’t normally listen to it. “I did a show in Lux, the big riverside disco in Lisbon. Those people are my audience. What I want is to show the art I love and sing with all my emotions. I hate art for the elite.”

A lot of the conventions of fado were putting off her friends, she says. “I love to wear sneakers. I don’t dress in a black shawl. And when I go outside Portugal people don’t understand a word. I want you to imagine you are in the living room of my house, we are friends and I am singing stories about life and love. It’s like the poems choose me. I have a very personal connection between myself and the poems.” See Gisela João next week at one of the gigs below:

Songlines Encounters Tour 2015 Dates:

June 2 – Manchester (0161 907 5555)
June 3 – Bury St Edmunds (01284 758000)
June 4 – London (020 7520 1490)
June 5 – Southampton (023 8059 5151)

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Line-up announced for Songlines Encounters Festival 2015, June 4-6

Posted on January 31st, 2015 in Live, News, Recent posts by .


Photography by Mário Pires

Celebrating its fifth year Songlines Encounters Festival features musicians from Portugal, Cyprus, Iran, the UK and Bangladesh.

Taking place from June 4-6 at London’s Kings Place, Songlines Encounters Festival will feature UK premieres, first-time collaborations and lots of supremely inspirational music. There will also be film screenings, talks and free foyer performances. The festival is co-curated by Songlines magazine and Ikon Arts Management.

We are also delighted to announce that for the first time Songlines Encounters will be going on tour throughout the country. Visit Ikon Arts to find out where we will be travelling to.


Thursday June 4, Hall 1, 8:00pm

Monsieur Doumani (on tour)
The trio Monsieur Doumani play Cypriot music – both their own and traditional – with humour and panache. This show launches their new album Sikoses.

Gisela João (on tour)
The new fado singer that Portugal is raving about. Her debut recording was an album of the year in Portugal. Expect traditional fado at its very best in this UK premiere.

Friday June 5, Hall 1, 7:30pm

Duncan Chisholm
With six solo albums behind him, Chisholm is one of Scotland’s great fiddlers (read more in the March #106 issue). Traditional and contemporary music from the Highland glens.

Mahsa & Marjan Vahdat (on tour)
These sisters are like no other singing duo you’ve heard. Their voices interweave so beautifully, you’d never guess they’re forbidden to sing publicly back home in Iran. They will also do a special Songlines Encounters collaboration with Duncan Chisholm.

Friday June 5, Hall 2, 9:30pm

One of Britain’s great electro-African dance bands with live vocals, kora, guitar and percussion with electronics drawing on house, dubstep and hip-hop.

Saturday June 6, Hall 1, 2:00pm

She’Koyokh: Kids Concert
Join Britain’s best klezmer band She’Koyokh for a participatory concert for children, introducing music from Eastern Europe with stories, singing and dancing!

Saturday June 6, Hall 1, 7:30PM

Shikor Bangladesh All Stars & Lokkhi Terra
The Shikor Bangladesh All Stars feature seven of the best traditional musicians from Bangladesh, including folk singer Baby Akhtar, dhol drummer Nazrul Islam and maestro of Baul music Rob Fakir. In part two of this concert, the All Stars join together with the Anglo-Bangladeshi group Lokkhi Terra. This UK premiere brings Songlines Encounters Festival a danceable finale as the roots of Bangladesh meet Latin dance rhythms and the urban jungle.


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