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Sunday, Dec. 3
The Indiana Daily Student


Saba - 'Breeze of the East' comes to Bloomington

A musical journey that has taken thousands of years is continuing this Sunday at IU. That music has followed the Silk Road, the ancient trade route linking China and Rome in an exchange of goods and cultures that has had an impact on the shape of Eurasia to this day.\nNow Sabá, a Bloomington-based ensemble featuring musicians from Turkey to New Jersey, are bringing the ancient folk music of the East to the modern-day Midwest. This Sunday IU's 2001 Summer Workshop in Slavic, East European and Central Eurasian Languages will present the Ninth Annual Central Eurasian Concert: "Silk Road: A Cultural and Musical Journey by Sabá, Breeze of the East."\n"With a vast area, you have a different mosaic of cultures. Different languages, different traditions and different beliefs," said Dr. Shahyar Daneshgar of the the huge Eurasian landmass that the Silk Road crossed. Dr. Daneshgar is a Research Associate at IU's Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center and a member of Sabá, as well as a founder of the Lotus Festival, Bloomington's perennially popular world music festival. "(The people of Eurasia) have shared a lot of common destiny, be it good or bad."\nWhen one thinks of American folk music, songs come to mind that can be no more than a few hundred years old. By contrast, the songs of Eastern folk music are many thousands of years old. These songs have been telling the stories of Eurasian peoples' triumphs and tragedies for millenia, with each generation handing down their songs and stories to the next. \n"These tunes are ancient," said Daneshgar. "They have been passed down from heart to heart for generations." \nIn fact, only relatively recently has a serious effort been made to put the music on paper. Because of the smaller intervals used in Eastern music, new methods of notation had to be devised. \nEastern music itself has had to adapt in order to remain accessible to modern audiences. Indian ragas are largely based around complex improvisational structures, much like modern jazz. But unlike a popular jazz tune like Miles Davis' "So What," these ragas could often last 8-10 hours.\n"The speed of life does not allow that long a performance anymore," said Dr. Daneshgar. Instead, "we try to give (the audience) the flavor of the music."\nSabá is the unique kind of musical ensemble that Bloomington and the IU community can allow to flourish. In addition to Daneshgar, the group features Narin Hekmat-Farrokh, Megan Weeder, Hakan Toker and Joseph Donnelly. Joining them for this concert will be vocalist Talant Mawkhanuli from East Turkistan and Dr. Thomas P. Walsh, an assistant professor of saxophone and jazz at IU's School of Music. The group includes instruments that will be familiar to Western ears, like piano, violin and accordion, in addition to non-Western instrumentation including the the saz (a long-necked lute), ney (end-blown flute) and kamancheh (spike-fiddle). Their repertoire includes folk songs from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Tadjikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. All its members are IU students, faculty or graduates. Some came to Bloomington firmly grounded in traditional Western classical music, only to be exposed to the allures of Eurasian folk. \n"They fell in love with this music," said Daneshgar.\nTranscending geographical and cultural boundaries, the members of Sabá hope to use their music to "express the commonalty of human emotion through shared experience," according to their literature.\n"We're trying to expose the Bloomington community to what exists outside the community," said Daneshgar. "We are all products of culture -- we tap into these places. I guarantee in a few years, Bloomington will be on the map for its activities in world music."\nThe Ninth Annual Central Eurasian Concert: "Silk Road: A Cultural and Musical Journey by Sabá, Breeze of the East." will be held at Whittenberger Auditorium in the Indiana Memorial Union at 3 p.m. Sunday. It will be preceded by a Central Eurasian Art Exhibit at 2 p.m. The concert is free and is co-sponsored by IU's Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center, the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, the Russian and East European Institute, the Department of Central Eurasian Studies, the International Program of Indiana University and Echo World Music Institute.

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