Finding a Voice between Tradition & Contemporary
Presented in partnership with NYUAD Art Gallery and NYUAD Career Development Center
Members of the bands playing at Barzakh Festival share approaches to preserving their traditions while honoring heritage and creating space for innovation in an ever changing world.
Join this diverse and innovative panel: Singer and leader of Algeria’s Lemma, Souad Asla; Musician, composer and bandleader of CGS, Mauro Durante; band leader of Korean shamanic folk-pop group ADG7, Kim Hyunsoo, and Somali singer and bandleader, Sahra Halgan.
Souad Asla, Lemma
Flagship artist of the new generation of southern Algeria, heir to the Gnawa tradition and its trances that heal the soul, Souad Asla overflows with talent and humanity. Her voice takes us to the gates of the desert, while her music rich in crossbreeding carries a strong identity and a rebellious spirit that lets us glimpse the future. Whether with her personal project Jawal, with the group Lemma that she has been carrying since 2017, or more recently with “Sahariennes” or “Les Héritières” a creation in tribute to Cheikha Rimitti, she takes the public to each of her concerts in the tireless atmosphere of “Lila” with impressive influence and generosity.
Sahra Halgan presents a mix of original compositions and traditional Somali songs through distorted guitars, African percussion, and Sahra’s distinctive warbling vocals. With her unique vocal style, Sahra sings about love, gratitude, and rebuilding her nation, using poetry typical of the Somali language.
Ak Dan Gwang Chil’s (ADG7) are a multi-award winning Korean traditional music group, featuring six Korean traditional musicians and three powerhouse female folk singers. They perform repertoire from the sacred, shamanic, and secular gut (ritual music) and minyo (folk song) traditions of the Hwanghae-do region, nowadays a western province of North Korea.
ADG7 was founded in 2015 on the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule. Their music expresses the true meaning of liberation and South Korea’s desire for reunification. They recently won multiple awards including Best Group at the 2018 KBS Korean Traditional Music Award and Sori Frontier Award at the 2017 Jeonju International Sori festival. ADG7 has been spotlighted at WOMEX (World Music Expo) 2019 and globalFEST 2020.
At the early age of fourteen, Mauro Durante began playing frame drums and violin with Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino. In 2007, he followed his father’s footsteps and took over the leadership of the band (his mother, Rossella Pinto, was also one of the members that founded the CGS and she was part of the band until the keys were handed to the new generation).
In 2010 came Focu d’amore, first Canzoniere’s album produced by Mauro, followed by Pizzica Indiavolata (2012), Quaranta (2015) and Canzoniere (2017), Meridiana (2021). Under his direction, CGS reached international success and critical acclaim, playing in all the major world music festivals and winning the prestigious Songlines Music Awards in 2018, as Best Group in the overall category. Their last album Meridiana ranked Best Album of 2021 in the historical World Music Charts Europe.
He had been part in the Notte della Taranta from 2000 to 2013 performing duets with prominent musicians from all over the world, including Stewart Copeland, Trilok Gurtu, Richard Galliano and Zohar Fresco, and he shared the stage with all the important artists that participated in this huge concert over the years. In the 2010-11 editions of the Notte della Taranta, he was named musical assistant of the “Maestro Concertatore” Ludovico Einaudi at just 26-years old. He worked on the conception and artistic production of the show with the famous composer.
This brilliant pianist and composer had already noticed Mauro’s lively talent back in 2009, and made him play in his albums. Mauro went on tour with Ludovico all over the world for 6 years, performing violin and frame drums as a key element of his band, performing in some of the most prestigious venues.
In 2012 he was the musical assistant of the new Maestro Concertatore of the NdT Goran Bregovic. He has been part of the important early music band Accordone and he often collaborates with superb musicians and acts such as Piers Faccini, Ibrahim Maalouf, Ballake Sissoko, Jovanotti, Justin Adams. In 2020 he started a new duo project with English guitarist and producer Justin Adams. Their first album Still Moving, released in 2021, gained the favor of international critics: Durante wins his second Songlines Music Awards (only Italian to have won the prize, first with his band CGS and now with his duo) as Best Album Fusion, and the album is listed among the best of the year by the likes of Blogfoolk, Podwirless e Télérama.
He has developed his musical education by playing in concerts and studying folk music, violin and frame drums at the musical conservatory. He learned the rudiments of the frame drum techniques from his father, the expert musicians that played for CGS throughout the years, and by studying footage from the older generations. He’s also taken part in the traditional feasts where people gather in a circle (ronda), playing the tambourine and dancing in the middle. He kept studying in depth the various pizzica techniques and became one of the leading figures. In 2022 he started teaching “Frame Drums” at the Conservatory of Music in Lecce. Today, at the end of 2022, Durante is widely considered as a key figure in Italy’s world music scene, locally and internationally.