|Top of the Bill:|
Molly Lopresti and Harriet Riley
marimba, vibraphone & percussion duo
students of Lisa Tregale's
SOUTH WEST MUSIC SCHOOL
played the first set in the Dartington Barn Theatre
on Saturday 23 June 2012
Many thanks to Dartington Hall Press Officer, Katrina Hurford, who contacted Phonic FM to let us know about the wonderful festival being put together at the Hall by Director of Arts, David Francis.
Katrina arranged for us to talk to Artistic Director (and co-founder of WOMAD), Thomas Brooman, about the events lined up for the weekend. It all sounded fabulous - visiting students from the South West Music School, visiting monks from the Tashi Lhunpo temple in India, visiting dancers from West Africa, duduk music, mbira music, gamelan workshops, outdoor sets by local musicians 'Show of Hands' and - Charlotte Church!
|plenty of space for campers at|
They then had the opportunity to wander around the (fabulous) grounds of Dartington Hall, and drop into the various studios to see what was being prepared for them.
|In the Ship Studio|
Buddhist monks from Bylakuppe
begin work on a peace mandala
the outdoor sound stage is set up
in the Dartington Great Hall Quad
|masked dance by the|
Tashi Lhunpo monks
|The Dohl Foundation|
|the AnDa Union|
Sack time? - 1am at least!
After a little 'lie-in' the festival resumed in beautiful sunshine. The monks had been working all morning on their mandala, gently and skilfully trickling brightly coloured crushed marble onto a horizontal board to create a perfect geometrical pattern with many spiritually significant images incorporated. Once more they broke off from their labours - this time to perform their ceremonial blessing on the festival from the outdoor stage.
|Japanese piano virtuoso|
While Ryoko played on, two very talented marimba players drew music lovers out of the sunshine, into the dark embrace of the Barn Theatre. Molly Lopresti-Richards, who is familiar throughout Devon for her talented percussion playing, and for her outstanding performance in this year's 'Young Musician of the Year' competition, joined forces with another talented percussionist, Harriet Riley, to form the magical duo, 'Malleticious'.
Malleticious open with a marimba duet
by Scottish marimba legend, Evelyn Glennie
Harriet then played her own composition, 'Afro Etude' with light percussion accompaniment by Molly.
Then it was Molly's turn to impress us with the mallets - on the vibraphone. Kerryn Joyce's 'Tank Girl'.
|For Harriet Riley's|
plays maracca . . .
|. . . and gong |
- using an empty bucket
as a resonator!
|Barefoot, Molly Lopresti|
'Tank Girl' by Kerryn Joyce
Malleticious then moved into classical mode, with their own arrangement of Mozart's 'Piano Sonata in B flat' - for two marimbas. With their incredible lightness of touch they did full justice to Mozart's original vision - playing the left and right hand parts respectively.
|Karak Percussion Powerhouse|
Kerryn Joyce and Kevin Man
Molly took over Harriet's Marimba for her own composition 'Percussion de la Alma Roja', with Harriet providing the percussion accompaniment on drum-kit.
The concert ended with something very special - 'Nagoya' by Steve Reich. Throughout the concert, Lisa Tregale was there recording video and sound - look out for those downloads!
|~ The grand finale ~|
'Nagoya' by Steve Reich
- for two marimbas
|Matthew & Me|
|Chartwell Shorayi Dutiro|
|jazz alto Emily Wright|
Simultaneously, alto Emily Wright was singing with her Bristol based jazz trio in the Barn Theatre.
|Saj Landey guides a young student|
in the ancient Balinese art of
|Andrew Cronshaw interviews|
in the Great Hall
|Tigran Aleksayan plays|
Tigran obliged with a selection of tunes and improvisations on his extraordinary reed instrument - which sounded a little like a shawm or cornamuse - haunting and very beautiful. Certainly unique!
As the clock on the tower of the Great Hall made its leisurely way towards 3.20pm the excitement started again. Patrick Duff resumed his songwriting workshop in the Gatehouse - with three talented students of the South West Music School - Sam Perry, Ben Cipolla and Paddy Benedict.
At the same time, in the Great Hall, Finnish singer-songwriter Sanna Kurki-Sounio was giving a recital of traditional Finnish rune-singing.
|Ben & Alfie Weedon|
Ben & Alfie are familiar to Phonic FM listeners. Their music features on 'Roots & Shoots' on Monday evenings with Martin Hodge and Martin Henning. Recently Ben & Alfie came to The Castle in Bradninch to perform a live set at the monthly talent night - as the evening's headline booking.
A great double act.
|Squares and circles freehand - such skill!|
introduces the monks
|Lhakpa teaches Tibetan|
|visitors learn the basics of sand-art|
|Let's not forget the volunteers!|
Volunteer steward Cassandra Lorias
(here holding a Tibetan woodcut print)
manning the Ship Studio all day on Saturday
|Jane Rasch explains the ceremony|
|Very moving chanting and horn-playing|
|the high priest rings a bell to|
mark the end of the ceremony
|the mandala is removed|
pinch by pinch
|and finally swept|
into a heap
|some of the sand is collected|
|some is left|
- practice non-attachment!
welcome the sand
|the high priest performs the blessing|
|the sand begins|
its journey to the sea
|the monks return to the hall|
For anyone who would like to experience the mandala ceremony,
and/or take part in Tibetan culture workshops,
the Tashi Lhunpo monks will be at Brixham Theatre
from Sunday to Tuesday 12-14 August.
Sunday 2-5pm: mandala construction
Monday 10am-4pm: workshops and continued construction
Tuesday 10am-1pm: workshops and continued construction
Cecilia Kean is taking bookings for both workshops: 01803 852108
Tuesday 3pm: blessing, destruction & ceremonial procession to Brixham Harbour
Tuesday 7.30pm: 'The Power of Compassion'
- prayers, music and masked dance
Tickets: £10 Box Office: 01803 850800 or Book Online
for further details: Brixham Arts & Theatre Society Website
After five years as a solo artist, Jackie has a new album out - 'Saturnine' - featuring twelve of her most delightfully moving performances.
|Bristol Reggae Orchestra|
In the Gatehouse, the Bristol Reggae Orchestra were holding a masterclass in reggae composition, using classical instruments, and inviting everyone to join in with the percussion.
|The Krar Collective|
The Krar Collective were in the Great Hall educating us all in the Ethoipian dance rhythms of Guragigna and Wello. Temesegan Tareken played an electric version of the Ethiopian 'Krar' (a six stringed harp) while Robel Tesfaya played the traditional Ethiopian Kebero drums.
|in concert on centre stage|
|in the beautiful Dartington Quadrangle|
In 'Studio 1' Idrissa Camara was holding an open workshop with 'Ballet Nimba'. Idrissa Camara is a member of the Baga tribe of the former French colony of Guinea-Conakry in West Africa. In Guinea and Senegal he has worked as artistic director of 'Ballets Africains' and ' Ballet Bougarabou', following his apprenticeship with 'Ballet Bassikolo du Guinea' under the great Bangalli Bangoura.
|The smaller mask|
used by the dancers
As well as teaching dance techniques, Idrissa was developing moves for a ballet performance later the same evening . . .
As the time approached seven o'clock Patrick Duff brought his South West Music School students to the Barn Theatre to play their own compositions. Sam Perry, Ben Cipolla and Paddy Benedict each sang a selection of their own compositions. Then they came together to sing the song created in Patrick's workshop during the day, and on the previous evening. 'I'm the Prince of Who-Knows-Where' was very well received, with many people asking if it might be recorded, and a CD made available.
|a remarkably cool dude|
|South West Music School|
student Sam Perry
|Sam, together with|
Ben Cipolla (R) & Paddy Benedict (L)
perform the workshop composition
'I'm the Prince of Who-Knows-Where'
|Sun Lotus Taiko|
|later the same evening|
|centre stage is taken over|
|by 'Show of Hands'|
Phil Beer and Steve Knightley
(double bass: Miranda Sykes)
|'Youngstown' by Bruce Springsteen|
Up in the Gatehouse, Iranian music journalist, Sir Ali, held a special session with a select audience to share his personal passion - Jazz.
Patrick Duff had his own select audience, at a secluded location in the Dartington gardens, to perform some of his own song compositions.
|Festival Director of Arts|
introduces . . .
playing Fulani flute
Baba-Galle played with enormous energy, flexing his body and interspersing his flute playing with notes sung with his own voice, to create a sense of overwhelming excitement and emotion.
from Côte D'Ivoire
The combined sound was overpowering, but enchanting to hear, and never detracted from the gentle playing on the other instruments - or the singing of Ballet Nimba's vocal star, Mary-Ann Roberts.
|vocalist Mary-Ann Roberts|
playing jeli ngoni
|Sidike Dembele also sings - with:|
Mohamed 'Mobe' Camara - djembe . . . Ibroh Soumah - sangban
Mamadou Keita - kenkeni & dununba (all from Guinea-Conakry)
Idrissa Camara is flanked by
Yaw Coffie and
Tetteh Adolph ('Amazing') Amatey
(both from Ghana)
is carefully choreographed
After the men, the three women appeared, and danced with equal energy and skill. Finally they all danced together in a maelstrom of muscular movement which defied detailed comprehension. The audience just had to experience the incredible complexity of what was going on right in front of them.
|for three men - and three women|
Kenzi Ireland from the UK
Aissatou Diop from Senegal
Vanessa Guevara from Mexico
Slowly, without words, except the words of the songs - which weren't in English, a story began to unfold. Idrissa reveals himself to be a rather moody character, breaking off from the dancing to play seductively on a very ancient Fula instrument, the bolon bata. Idrissa's moodiness and narcissism alienate him from the other dancers, who won't dance with him any more.
plays the ancient bolon bata
|Idrissa is reviled|
for his vanity
As Idrissa tries to join in the dance he gets into a confrontation with Vanessa Guevara, the company's vivacious Mexican dancer. There seems to be an element of unrequited love here, and Idrissa's advances are not welcome. Forcing his attentions on Vanessa, Idrissa playfully kicks her, but too hard. She falls down in a dead faint. Later it transpires that Idrissa has killed Vanessa in his clumsy enthusiasm.
Idrissa leaves the stage still preening and seeking approval - not yet aware of what he has done.
|His victim - Vanessa - is carried to her funeral|
The awful truth is soon revealed as Tetteh Amatey and Yaw Coffie come in bearing Vanessa's dead body shoulder high. To avoid having props on the stage, Vanessa is not carried on a bier. Instead she holds her body rigid as she is carried - which must require incredible strength.
|Mobe, Ibro and Mamadou|
provide the funeral music
|The 'women' (one is Idrissa)|
approach Vanessa's spirit in masks
As Vanessa is laid out in front of the audience, the drummers play a subdued funeral beat, with Mohamed Camara producing a new, and mournful, sound using another instrument from Guinea, the krin or slit-drum made from an incised wooden log.
Three female figures appear holding wooden masks in front of their faces. It is not clear whether they are mourners or spirits. One is actually Idrissa - making up numbers, or is this an important part of the plot? As they approach Vanessa is reanimated and draws a wooden mask over her own face - symbolising her transformation into a spirit perhaps. No explanation is necessary.
Finally Idrissa, racked with remorse, performs a slow dance of penitence. His earlier frenzy is condensed into incredibly powerful, but slow, movements culminating in his final expression of grief and regret.
wears her own mask
|Idrissa shows his contrition|
- in dance
And Ballet Nimba fully intended to continue in the same vein. After a short break, the music began again and the dancers put on an astounding display of virtuoso dancing. There were more synchronised moves in threes and sixes, and each dancer performed a solo routine - dazzling the audience with their individual prowess.
| the sad tale is followed by -|
more sensational choreography
|- and more|
|- and more|
|the women return|
|the men reappear - in the women's costumes|
Throughout the evening, the drummers had clearly been led by the inspired rhythm and virtuosity of Sidiki Dembele. He also sprang into the action periodically to give impassioned solo performances on the djembe. Sometimes he was joined by the other djembe player, Momamed Camara. Eventually he gave way and let Mobe have the stage to himself. Mobe amazed everyone with an oustanding solo of his own - but Sidiki would not be outdone! Taking his djembe he beat out the fastest most thrilling rhythm yet - approaching face to face with the audience and inviting them to shout with the beat at the end of each phrase - and they did it with a will, shouting, yelling, 'drumming' on anything to hand.
|Mobe challenges Sidiki's supremacy|
as a djembe drummer
When the excitement finally drew to a close, the audience were ecstatic in their praise and showed every sign of their appreciation. Ballet Nimba had brought the spirit of West Africa to the heart of Devon. They had brought the vibrancy and energy of their own cultural traditions to the very appropriate ancient setting of Dartington's historical Great Hall. They had poured out their energy and emotion in an endless stream of extreme expression. And we loved every second of it!
* * * * * * * * * *
You might be forgiven for thinking that Ballet Nimba's performance would mark the end of the entertainment at Dartington's HOME Festival - Not at all! As the excited audience crowded around the dancers and musicians of Idrissa Camara's ballet company, David Francis mounted the stage again to tell everyone what they had not noticed in the excitement. Outside, where it was now starting to get dark, the heavens had opened. Rain was pouring down with a force to match Sidiki Dembele's drumming, and no one could conceivably be expected to stand on the quad in the deluge to hear the next act.
Accordingly, the Krar Collective moved their act into the Great Hall. Following their afternoon workshop, Temesegan Tareken, Robel Tesfaya and Genet Asefa transported everyone from the West Africa of Ballet Nimba - to East Africa, and the Ethiopian sound of the Krar harp, Kebero drums and Genet Asefa's gorgeous vocals.
|as Ballet Nimba leave the Great Hall|
the Krar Collective return
with lead singer Genet Asefa
For those who had the staying power - and weren't worried about the rain outside - the entertainment continued at eleven with Andrew Cronshaw's 'SANS' group. Two familiar musicians made a return appearance - Tigran Aleksayan from Armenia with his traditional duduk, and Finnish singer-songwriter Sanna Kurki-Suonio - plus saxophonist Ian Blake. For those who preferred a late night film, Kevin Madconald's 'Marley' was showing in the Barn Theatre. Finally as the time approached one in the morning, Solarference played one last set in the Great Hall.
|Sarah Owen and Nick Janaway - Solarference|
Dartington HOME Festival exceeds all expectations, not just in the number and variety of inspiring things to see and hear, but also in the extremely high quality of all the performances - and the sheer excitement and energy of it all. For campers the experience was almost non-stop from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning - with all the beauty of Dartington Hall estate and the surrounding countryside to enjoy after that. Truly a festival to remember!
A final word of thanks to the tireless organisers - Director of Arts David Francis, WOMAD Artistic Director Thomas Brooman (who so kindly joined us on Phonic FM to make us aware of this amazing experience on our doorstep), the Dartington staff, and all the local volunteer stewards who worked day and night to make the Festival such a success.
Well done everyone!
We will be able to hear some of the great music that took place at the Festival - and interviews with the musicians - on Tuesday's 'Classical Journey': 3rd July, 10-12am, on Phonic FM (106.8 FM, www.phonic.fm) with a distinct Dartington theme taking shape around 11am.
Hear Molly and Harriet play marimba, Jane Rasch and Lhakpa talk about the Tashi Lhunpa monastery and the mandala ceremony, Lisa Tregale discusses South West Music School, and we can hear Sidiki Dembele shaking the roof of the Great Hall with his drumming - and a personal interview with Ballet Nimba artistic director, Idrissa Camara!