Monday, 5 July 2010

free saturday: music village, museum of childhood

On Saturday we went to Victoria Park (surprisingly, only five stops on the tube; we've been more often that way by two buses, which can be a bit of a long haul) for Music Village, a free world music festival from Cultural Cooperation. They've had them a few years in Hyde Park (as next weekend), although we've never been, and this was the first time to also have it at Victoria Park (tying in with the Olympics build-up, apparently). It was a much smaller affair than previous Hyde Park publicity I've seen - one stage, one food stall, one info tent, quite a small audience area - but it was pleasant, and shady.

Cultural Cooperation website here; Music Village info here; Saturday's planned line-up here, though it wasn't exactly as planned. We arrived after one and left before five, so we saw bits of four artists (we took occasional wanders off to playpark, around lake, for ice cream etc): Romany Diamonds, Adel Elbrary & Sundania, Alcazaba, and Gouri Choudhury.

Romany Diamonds from programme: 'One of the world’s finest Roma violinists, Ricardo Czureja founded Romany Diamonds after migrating to London from Poland in 1998. Ricardo is passionately committed to enhancing cultural awareness to reduce the centuries-old social stigma afflicting Roma peoples. His band comprises three generations of virtuoso musicians whose combined musical brilliance goes far to achieving this. Ricardo’s son Benjamin explains that music is “what we live off; it’s our bread”. The male family members play violin but Benjamin has broken with convention and plays guitar to add a jazzy feel to the band’s music. Save for Yugoslav double bassist Viktor Obsust, all other band members are Roma and have been steeped in Roma music since childhood.' The Romany Diamonds Myspace page.

Adel Elbrary from programme: 'A venerated singer and composer in Sudan for 30 years, Adel’s performances radiate integrity and excellence. Arabic music from Egypt, including sacred Sufi chants, has had a particularly powerful formative influence on his musical development, while later encounters with artists from around the world stretched his musical horizons further still. Adel lived and worked as a manager of a camp in the Sinai desert some years ago. During that time he met and worked alongside many musicians from India, Arabia, South America, Europe and Israel. He subsequently collaborated with Israeli world music ensemble Sheva to promote peace in the region through music. Together, they recorded the famous track ‘Od Yarb Shalom Al Eina’, (Peace will come to us).'

Alcazaba's Myspace page, and reviews of their album on BBC Music and Allaboutjazz. I'm with the BBC reviewer that their jazzy fusion of flamenco, middle east and indian music was just quite dull.

Gouri Choudhury from programme: 'Bangaldeshi folk diva, Gouri Choudhury is a singer and music teacher born in Sylhet. Today she is one of Britain’s most sought after Bangladeshi performers. “Music surrounded me from a very early age and my parents encouraged me to sing. I recall performing Bengali folk songs when I was seven”. She settled in London soon after being invited to perform here. Gouri was featured on BBC television in 1997, alongside Ravi Shankar in a commemorative concert to mark the 50th anniversary of Partition. She has played all over Britain and in Canada, France and Germany. Nowadays, she performs poignant Bangla songs composed by national poets Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam, and mystical folk renditions by Lalon Fokir.' A number of videos are linked from this Google search.

All in all, okay, given that we were seeing the four afternoon acts of a free festival; no great discoveries, and Gouri Choudhury my favourite, which was predictable.

After that we went to the Museum of Childhood for about an hour - my first time, apart from a school trip which was cut very short because the water had gone off (so we went to the Victoria Park playpark instead, which I'm sure the children enjoyed as much as they would have the Museum). The contents interesting, the building even more so. An hour's probably enough at a time, could get old-toyed out if you were there too long I think.