Showing posts with label B'AK'TUN. Show all posts
Showing posts with label B'AK'TUN. Show all posts

Monday, November 19, 2012

CHI, IL Live Shows On Our Radar: 3 Multicultural Favs

Sones de México Ensemble, 13 B'ak'tun (all ages)

Tour Appearance
12/01/2012, Sat 
Chicago, IL 

1328 W. Morse Ave. 
Show: 7:00 pm & 10:00 pm 

Advance General Admission = $20 Day of Show General Admission = $25 VIP guaranteed seat = $35 

Under 18 = $15 Groups of 10 or more = $15 per person Boxoffice: (773) 381-4551 or $5 valet parking available. 

Ask about dinner packages.

It’s not the end of the world, but a turn of the wheel. December 21, 2012 marks the beginning of a new era according to the Mayan calendar, that mathematically elegant achievement that has been misread by doomsayers worldwide, and means the end of one of the cycles of the Mayan calendar, the b’ak’tun (approximately 394 solar years).

Henry Cole & the Afro-Beat Collective, Roots Before Branches (18+)

Tour Appearance
12/13/2012, Thu 
Chicago, IL 

1328 W. Morse Avenue 
Tix: $25-$15, Doors Open: 6:30 pm, Show: 8:00 pm 
Ph: 773.381.4554  

Quicksilver Puerto Rican drummer Henry Cole knows how Wayne Shorter might have jammed with Fela Kuti. Or what Miles would have done if only he’d gone Afro-Caribbean with his rock-jazz hybrids. He hears how jazz can grab the rootsy sounds of bomba, plena, and Cuban rumba, and sparkle with electro sheen and rock energy.

Kodo 2013:  One Earth Tour

The Delicate, Powerful Breath of the Past:  Living Legend Tamasaburo Bando Leads Kodo, Finds Inspiration on Japan’s Sado Island

Tour Appearance
02/13/2013, Wed 
Chicago, IL (all ages)

220 South Michigan Avenue 
Show: 7:30 PM 
Ph: 312.294.3000 Single Tickets on sale Friday August 10, 2012.

The visceral intensity, the athleticism, of taiko drumming in the hands of a master group like Japan’s Kodo may feel like the polar opposite of kabuki theater’s controlled, nuanced performances. Yet when Kodo announced it had found a new Artistic Director in kabuki icon Tamasaburo Bando—often referred to simply as “Tamasaburo”—it made perfect sense.

They both draw on the deep well of traditional Japanese culture, rooted in a long lineage and sense of place that bring unflagging precision and profound personal commitment to their work. It runs through the explosive power of a giant booming drum stroke and through the most delicate of hand motions, though the harvest celebrations and demon dances to the most refined and urbane stages.

Now their joint labors are coming to America in early 2013, with a tour that will feature several re-envisioned and new pieces guided by Tamasaburo’s distinct aesthetic and deep experience.

Tamasaburo, known for his stunning, subtle onnagata (female roles), grew up in a kabuki family, steeped in the art form’s complex movements, visual language, and painstaking stagecraft. A performer since his early teens, the actor rose to prominence, winning a worshipful following worthy of a Hollywood star. He wowed arthouse fans by performing in films by revered European directors such as Andrzej Wajda. He was recently declared a Living National Treasure, one of the highest honors bestowed on prominent Japanese citizens.

Yet the master performer decided to devote himself to an artistic venture located in one of the remotest places in Japan—Sado, an island the size of Okinawa off Japan’s northwest coast—to work with the world’s preeminent drumming ensembles, Kodo.

“I have been visiting Sado Island regularly for the past ten years to work with Kodo, directing the performances, as well as appearing on stage alongside the ensemble,” Tamasaburo reflected in a recent statement about his work with Kodo. “Through my involvement with these productions, I realized the importance of confining yourself to one specific place to train. Getting away from the city where you are surrounded by technology, you face yourself, come face to face with your purest form. In the natural surroundings of Sado, you can experience a rare opportunity to get back in touch with your own soul and can even sometimes feel the concealed breath of ancient times on your own skin.”

Tamasaburo and Kodo have felt this breath on Sado. The island saw an influx of new inhabitants when gold was discovered during the Edo period, as well as several centuries of artists and intellectuals in exile, extraordinary men banished by Japan’s rulers for political reasons. “Many cultures in turn came to Sado on thousands of ships from all over Japan. That made the island’s culture very complex and interesting,” notes Kodo member Jun Akimoto, who has worked with the group for over a decade.

Though intimately tied to the cultural developments on the rest of Japan, remote Sado has retained an astounding level of traditional culture, roots that express themselves in everyday moments. Across the island, for example, foodways long forgotten elsewhere on Japan still thrive, from tiny home noodle parlors to the freshest of sushi. Prized sake is brewed from hand-planted and –harvested rice—agricultural practices learned by every Kodo apprentice to deepen their understanding of traditional culture.

On this unique foundation, Sado Island became a haven for artists seeking a different, more communal approach to creativity and tradition in the mid-20th century. Growing from a dedicated community of seekers, Kodo has developed its own way of life, trained hundreds of apprentices, built a remarkable arts village. In Kodo Village, not only do musicians gain intense discipline, commitment, and an enviable skill set; they also work in the fields, perfect their practice of the traditional tea ceremony, or help build sustainable and sleek furniture in the village’s workshop.

This organic totality of artistic vision attracted Tamasaburo, who happily set aside urban life for the quiet, almost magical remoteness of Kodo Village. The seasoned artist has grasped his new role as an opportunity to challenge himself, Kodo’s performers, and his audiences more deeply. Tamasaburo envisions Sado’s isolation as a way to connect with some of the performing arts’ most vital currents.

“Human beings cannot exist without nature,” he reflects. “That is why we use the arts to communicate nature, and it is only when we become free from impeding thoughts that we can become one with it. Facing the taiko, having acquired sufficient technique and control, players can forget their body, awareness, desires, hopes, and egos the moment they reach that state of oneness, and everyone who is present will share that indescribable sense of transcendence.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mayan End Of The World?

View our online press kit for Sones de México Ensemble, 13 B'ak'tun

We dig the multicultural, magical, celebratory spin here.   Amid so much recent devastation from hurricane Sandy, the Mayan prophecy about the end times imminently coming next month, is being bandied about again with a new ferocity.   Whether you're a skeptic who has seen too many end of the world predictions finish with an anticlimactic day after, or whether you're a fervent believer, it's great to finally hear a positive spin on the Mayan predictions for December 2012.   This concert sounds amazing and we can't wait to check it out.

It’s not the end of the world, but a turn of the wheel. December 21, 2012 marks the beginning of a new era according to the Mayan calendar, that mathematically elegant achievement that has been misread by doomsayers worldwide, and means the end of one of the cycles of the Mayan calendar, the b’ak’tun (approximately 394 solar years)and the Sones de México Ensemble is ready to celebrate!

On Saturday, December 1st, 2012 
Sones de México will join the worldwide celebrations that are being held as far away as Guatamala and South Eastern Mexico with their own musical interpretation of the end of the 13th, 394 year cycle that started over 1500 years ago!

Sones de México Ensemble, 13 B'ak'tun:
Full Tour Schedule

12/01/2012, Sat
Chicago, IL

Mayne Stage
1328 W. Morse Ave.
Show: 7:00 pm & 10:00 pm 

  • Tickets on sale November 1 Advance General Admission = $20 Day of Show General Admission = $25 VIP guaranteed seat = $35 Under 18 = $15 Groups of 10 or more = $15 per person Boxoffice: (773) 381-4551 or $5 valet parking available. Ask about dinner packages.

  • View our online press kit for Sones de México Ensemble, 13 B'ak'tunHappy Ending: Sones de México Ensemble Celebrates Sonic Renewal and the Real Meaning of the Mayan Calendar with 13 B’ak’tun 

    Live December performance and new recording of groundbreaking original piece by innovative Mexican roots explorers

    This turning point will spark celebrations in Mayan communities throughout the Americas, and has inspired a new concert program and composition by Sones de México Ensemble.  The Chicago-based, deeply rooted yet powerfully creative ensemble draws on traditional Mexican and Mayan rhythms and percussion instruments—along with hints of serialism and prog rock—to mark the end of 13 B’ak’tun, and a new start for us all.

    Sones shines a radical light on the spirit, sounds, and intriguingly complex numerical relationships evoked by the start of this next, long era by Mayan count. With a new composition—fourteen parts long, to honor each b’ak’tun since the creation—and a dynamic stage show, the group promises to reveal the beauty and revelry of this momentous, misunderstood event.

    The celebration begins in Chicago on December 1, 2012, at Mayne Stage, when Sones will premiere 13 B’ak’tun and present a wide ranging variety of other carefully executed, high energy pieces to welcome the new Mayan era. (For tickets and info, see or call Ticketweb at 866.468-3401).

    Sones de México has frequently turned over new leaves in its nearly two decades together. The group has covered Woody Guthrie and Led Zeppelin using traditional Mexican instruments. It has worked closely with Chinese artists as part of Yoyo Ma’s Silk Road Project (“Caravan”), joined Garrison Keillor on A Prairie Home Companion, and taught algebra to public school children through a clever method that uses traditional Mexican music composition.

    Yet 13 B’ak’tun and the composition as its heart are a bold move for the ensemble. Beginning with 13 counts of silence to honor zero and the creation, the piece, composed by Dies and developed in collaboration with the group, uses a different time signature for each section, one that corresponds to the section’s number (thus, 2 B’ak’tun is in 2/4 time).

    In addition to exploring odd meters and unusual time signatures, the piece weaves traditional forms and instruments, like reed flutes, Mayan marimbas, the gorgeously resonant Mayan bubalek (gourd water drum) into a structure built with the fascinating complexity of a contemporary classical work and the rollicking rhythmic panache of a good prog rock song.

    “Originally I created the framework with the 14 sections with the different time signatures,” explains the band’s co-founder, composer, and bass player Juan Dies. “Some members of the group have recently experienced a loss or other important changes in their lives that I feel have contributed to some distancing among us. I wanted this song to be part of a healing process, a renewal, just like a snake shedding its old skin to emerge transformed at the other end. Early in the process, I called for ideas from my band mates, and at first, these were a little disjointed, pulling in different directions, but then they began to align themselves. For example, our music director Victor Pichardo recommended that I create a unifying theme to bring it all together, and I wrote a 13-note pentatonic theme.” This pentatonic theme unites the diverse sections; it works forwards, backwards or upside down, returning and retreating, changing and reversing much like the intricate numerical relationships and unique intersections of the Mayan calendar’s many interlocking cycles.

    The piece, like the group’s work in general, offers a chance to reflect on the cultures and streams that have flowed together to form Mexico’s musical heritage: the sounds of diverse indigenous groups, African forms and beats, European harmonic ideas and instruments that have converged and interacted to spark Mexico’s many genres and styles.

    “This last b’ak’tun, a period representing the last four centuries or so, has seen conquest, revolution, voluntary an involuntary migration from around the world, everything from the fall of the Mayan and Aztec empires, the rise of a nation, globalization and the influence of Hollywood,” muses Dies, “and it has all impacted Mexican music. This composition and this new concert program give us a chance to consider that, to look back and reflect and to open new roads to travel the road ahead.”

    Highlighting the uniqueness and intellectual depth of Mexico’s traditions, while bringing them into delightfully new contexts, comes naturally to Sones. As part of the new program, the group will explore using robotic lighting, black lights, haze, fluorescence and other stage effects to accent the transitional, eerie, yet joyful vibe of this watershed moment. Thoughtful use of dance, percussion preludes—including a new Aztec drum overture written by band member Zacbe Pichardo for this occasion,“Origenes Ancestrales” (Ancestral Origins); jazz standards (a danzón arrangement of “Green Dolphin Street”); Western symphonic music (a vibrant folk arrangement of J. P. Moncayo’s “Huapango” by Victor Pichardo); and the full palette of indigenous Mexican sounds will bring the real significance of the b’ak’tun to life.

    “The b’ak’tun journey for us has sprung from a need to renovate, to reinvent ourselves, after years of working together, of achieving some success and meeting some challenges as a team,” Dies notes. “We wanted to do something new and exciting, and really offer the audience something entertaining and engaging. So we are adding a compelling visual experience to the musical dimension that we are known for. This is a big experiment for us, part of the bigger experimental streak we’ve always had, along with our love for the tradition of Mexican son.”


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