CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Fans of world music have a smorgasbord of events to choose from this month, including Slavic folk music performances, a percussionist playing handmade instruments and a conference devoted to Afro-Brazilian dance and music.
“I’ve never been so excited about the variety and depth of international music that is happening this February,” said Jason Finkelman, the director of Global Arts Performance Initiatives, an engagement program of the College of Fine and Applied Arts and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Finkelman’s role – which includes his position as artistic administrator of the Illinois School of Music’s Center for World Music – is to develop world music programming for both campus and community audiences. The Center for World Music is presenting two performances this month.
The first is the Alash ensemble, a trio of throat singers from the Republic of Tuva in Central Asia. Throat singing is a harmonic singing style in which the vocalists sing several pitches at the same time. Alash sings in the traditional style, while adding Western influences to its music, according to the group’s website.
Alash plays traditional string instruments, Finkelman said. He described their music as country or cowboy music, with “lots of songs about the landscape and horses.”
The ensemble will perform at 8 p.m. Feb. 10 at Smith Memorial Hall, 805. S. Mathews Ave., Urbana. The concert is free.
Finkelman’s longest-running initiative is the Sudden Sound Concert Series at Krannert Art Museum, which presents four concerts per year. The series began in 2005 and showcases improvisational music across genres and jazz avant-garde.
“We’ve had some of the most notable artists in the field, and also emerging artists in the field. It’s a really nice balance,” Finkelman said.
On Feb. 18, Sudden Sound will feature Music For Hard Times with Tom Nunn and Paul Winstanley. Nunn is a San Francisco-based percussionist who builds instruments from found and repurposed materials, and Winstanley is a bass player from New Zealand. Their performance is the second of two concerts leading up to April’s Sonified Sustainability Festival, which will highlight sustainable practices in the arts. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. and is free.
The Center for World Music will present the Anchiskhati Choir at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 29 at the School of Music Building Auditorium, 1114 W. Nevada St., Urbana. Admission is free.
The performance is a stop on the quartet’s U.S. tour. The Anchiskhati Choir is the world’s leading performer of Georgian polyphonic choral music. The choir specializes in singing ancient Georgian sacred and secular music, accompanied by traditional instruments. One of the unique vocal styles of the group is krimanchuli, a kind of yodeling practiced in Western Georgia.
Along with the Alash performance earlier in the month, “We’re going to have two very different singing styles of former Republics of the Soviet Union,” Finkelman said.
Finally, fans of capoeira – a Brazilian martial art form combining dance, acrobatics and music – can attend workshops and performances during the 14th Annual International Capoeira Angola Conference Feb. 24-28. The conference is presented by Denis Chiaramonte of the Capoeira Angola Center in Urbana and it is sponsored in part by the U. of I. dance department. The weekend will include various movement and music classes and performances at multiple locations.