Stunning vocalist Fatoumata Diawara from Mali at GlobalFest 2013
With Webster Hall bursting at the seams for GlobalFest 2013 on Sunday, it was clear to most in the audience that the venture has grown beyond a single evening event. Intended as a large world music showcase for 12 artists on 3 stages at the annual presenters conference in New York (www.apap.org), the concert has been heavily weighted toward pop-rock fusion styles for several years running. A good thing, considering any group with less energy and more subtlety than a fully amplified band would not survive in Globalfest's current configuration.
A noted exception this year was the duo featuring Persian kamanceh player, Kayhan Kalhor, and Turkish baglama player, Erdal Erzincan. Although the playbill emphasized the links between melodies of Turkish and Persian classical traditions, making this a likely forum for exchange, the baglama is actually more representative of central Anatolian folk music with little presence in current Turkish classical ensembles. This certainly does not detract from how successful these renowned performers communicated across styles, and the performance illustrated how fluid the categories 'folk, 'classical' and anything else can become in the practice of such masters. Unfortunately, for the first 20 minutes of the set (a continuous 45-minute improvisation) the amplification level for Erzincan did not match that of Kalhor, and the baglama came across as more of an accompanimental instrument. Undoubtedly for this reason, Kalhor took the lead until the problem was fixed, at which point the two were clearly equal partners in this unique stylistic and artistic collaboration.
Kayhan Kalhor, kamanceh, and Erdal Erzincan, baglama, in the Marlin Room at Globalfest 2013