Ports are sites of international cultural exchange and music. Many seafarers on their journeys make use of one particular instrument: the handy and popular harmonica. Roger Willemsen will dedicate the first concert in the “Underway” series to the various forms of harmonica instruments and their music.
Artur Fernandes Concertina, Francisco Miguel Concertina, Filipe Cal Concertina, Filipe Ricardo Concertina
Part 1: Underway in the Seaports of the Mediterrenean and the Atlantic Ocean
Seaports have been gateway and ear to the world for time immemorial: they are places of commerce and pirates, points of departure to conquer new worlds. They provide refuge for travellers and exile for victims of persecution. Ports are a symbol of homesickness and yearning. They are also sites of international cultural exchange and music. In the wake of the rapid population growth starting at the end of the 18th century, many people fled impoverishment to try their luck overseas. They often took their instruments with them as a souvenir of their homeland: handy, popular harmonicas. In this way the accordion, the bandoneon, the Celtic concertina and the Italian organetto travelled to America via Mediterranean port cities. More recent colonial history has also brought the accordion all the way to Africa, China and the Caribbean.
On the first half of the evening, Italian organetto virtuoso Ambrogio Sparagna will embark on the legendary journey of travelling singer Giuseppantonio and his musician colleagues: in the 9th century they wandered from the Italian Gulf of Gaeta along the Mediterranean coast to the French seaport of Marseille. From their Italian home, they brought along news and stories, as well as ballads, lullabies and love songs and the melodies of the tarantella. Ambrogio Sparagna has researched the traditional repertoire of these early emigrants, arranged them anew and composed songs of his own in the tradition of these troubadours.
On the second half of the concert, the Portuguese quartet Danças Ocultas interweaves influences of traditional music from the westernmost end of Europe with elements of classical music and jazz to form their own sounds. All four musicians play concertina; they have set themselves to explore the instrument’s world of sound. With their minimalist approach, they weave sounds and melodies, sketch moods and emotions.