Ethno on the road

The day after we got home from Linköping, we had visitors. ESI was a stop for the 2012 tour of Ethno on the road, a group of 5 young musicians selected from the Ethno summer music camp, plus 2 program leaders who collaborated with them to create the touring show. (Ethno is “the world’s largest international folk and world music camp for young musicians,” ages 17-25, and you can read lots more on their site.)

This year’s touring group included folks from Sweden, Denmark, France, Belgium, and India — all stellar musicians, and it was really interesting to see how they brought their diverse traditions together. We met with them in the afternoon for a workshop: they (mostly Lies, the buttonbox player from Belgium) taught us a lovely 3-part 17th c. menuett from the south of Belgium, we taught them a couple of simple tunes from Uppland, and then we had a lesson in singing raga.

I am afraid we were not very good raga students. It was clear that Rajati, the young Indian singer, had chosen the most basic song she could find for us to work on, and she did a great job of demonstrating and explaining how the improvisatory aesthetic works — but there is an awful lot to learn! She made several attempts to get us to sing without her help, but we didn’t ever get very far before we started to sound muddled. It was a fascinating exercise, though, and she sounded beautiful. Perhaps we would be a smidge better at it if we weren’t all in a post-festival stupor?

For those of you who are keeping track of 5-string fiddles: Thyge, from Denmark, is playing a 5 made by Barry Dudley in GA. I had a fun time talking with him about instruments and builders.

In the evening, they performed their concert set for us, with a slot saved for us to play together the tunes we had taught each other in the afternoon. There was a little bit of dancing and jamming after the show, but not very much because we were all about ready to fall over in a heap.

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