AT THE BEGINNING IT WAS THE RHYTHM: THE 100 PERCUSSIONS
From 6 to 15 June, ten days of events celebrate all incarnations of rhythm
There is an overpowering beat that lights up the Festival’s heart: tribal, mysteric, iterative, the sound of percussions takes us on a ten-day journey – concerts, discoveries, meetings from 6 to 15 June – to celebrate these instruments that feature in all music cultures around the world, in any genre and style. Wood, leather, metal draw the pulse of our sound universes since the dawn of times and the project The 100 percussions pays them tribute with a series of events in collaboration with the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, among the oldest and most important musical institutions. The backdrops of the events are theatres and churches, industrial heritage sites and huts on the river banks, up to the final concert featuring a large orchestra (with an open call to percussionists to join in). Winding through musical landscapes, to the conurbations of Uganda and the colonial neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires, from the hypnotic African techno to the beguiling power of well-appreciated masters of contemporary music such as Steve Reich and Karlheinz Stockhausen, between frame drums and electronic drums, the Festival turns Ravenna into the meeting point between cultures and artists, among explosions, shocks, pulsations – with heart, urgency, and creativity.
A new musical invasion looms over Ravenna: after the cellos and the electric guitars, this year the 30th edition’s sailing “on the high and open sea” ventures among the waves to cross the manifold archipelago of percussions. From the primitivism shown by Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps to the joyfully noisy jazz, from rock explosions to black music up to the obsessive techno, the endless family of the percussions has influenced the whole 20th century. And now even Ravenna – “a city of silence” according to poet Gabriele D’Annunzio – will resound of drums, metallophones and xilophones, djembes, mbiras, and kalimbas, from the most classic instruments to the most exotic ones.
The starting point is Ravenna, with a conference curated by Francesco Martinelli and dedicated to Ravenna-born jazz drummer Franco Manzecchi (6 June in the Cloister of the Classense Library) followed by Harmograph, three tributes by Matteo Scaioli: Igor Stravinsky, Egisto Macchi, and Giusto Pio shall be celebrated with three concerts from 7 to 9 June, all in the Refectory Hall of the National Museum. On Sunday, 9 June, the trekking concert in collaboration with Trail Romagna will lead the audience “Su la fiumana ove ‘l mar non ha vanto” (Inf. II, 108) on a musical and food&wine walk along the river banks. Among the guest artists also the queen of mbira Stella Chiweshe from Zimbabwe.
A volcanic start of the week with the three events scheduled for Monday, 10 June. Late afternoon in Piazza del Popolo with the public rehearsals of the Officina del Ritmo: conéxion Buenos Aires with the percussion ensemble led by Alejandro Oliva and coordinated by Marco Zanotti. Palazzo dei Congressi hosts a percussion and marathon performance: L’umiliazione delle stelle features percussions, wind instruments, and electronics of the Ars Ludi ensemble together with the video-novel written and performed by Mauro Covacich. Then techno music meets the Ugandan percussions with Nihiloxica, starring in the first of the “pulsating” nights of this programme.
Tuesday, 11 June, is time to discover an hidden treasure such as Eliane Radigue’s Occam Ocean – Occam XXVI performed by Enrico Malatesta in the Refectory Hall of the National Museum. Double bill at the Rasi Theatre: while the Ars Ludi ensemble (Antonio Caggiano, Rodolfo Rossi, Gianluca Ruggeri) plays Giorgio Battistelli’s Ostinato, the Chigiana Percussion Ensemble, led by Antonio Caggiano (who is also a teacher of the Santa Cecilia Conservatoire) together with soprano Silvia Lee, contralto Chiara Tavolieri and Manuel Zurria’s piccolo, tackles a masterpiece of Minimalism such as Steve Reich’s Drumming.
Wednesday, 12 June, is the turn of the rhythm explosion of Officina del Ritmo at the Darsena Pop Up, an experience led by the gestural code of the “La Bomba de Tiempo”, which was created in 2006 by Santiago Vázquez with the aim of exploring rhythm to produce a powerful music to dance to, able to genuinely represent, also through improvisation, all the influences of the multi-faced culture of Buenos Aires.
Thursday, 13 June, surprise visit to Forlì for the performance of another cornerstone of contemporary music: the Church of S. Giacomo hosts Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Kathinkas Gesang als Luzifers Requiem (The Song of Kathinka or the Requiem for Lucifer from Samstag aus Licht), with Manuel Zurria’s flute and live electronics by Alvise Vidolin, a most influential pioneer of sound design, together with the Chigiana Percussion Ensemble.
Four events on Friday, 14 June: starting from the Alighieri Theatre with Nicola Sani’s Terra, entrusted to Antonio Caggiano’s percussions and Alvise Vidolin’s live electronics, then through the city centre with the Chigiana Percussion Ensemble turned into Marching Band. The rhythm again reaches the dock area, first with the concert in the Artificerie Almagià featuring Grammy-winner Glen Velez, whose frame drums will meet Loire Cotler’s rhythm vocals (with the participation of Paolo Rossetti and Francesco Savoretti), then at the Darsena Pop Up with Percussion Voyager, another night signed by Matteo Scaioli and Maurizio Rizzuto.
The 100 Percussions can but end in a feast of sounds: chasing the timbres of instruments from all around the world, adding beat to beat, groove to groove for a pulsation filling the night to the brim, a big percussion orchestra will be the star of Sunday 15 June at the Pala De André. Drums in the Night is also the title – a reminder of Brecht’s work – of the new composition commissioned by the Festival to Michele Tadini, who had already signed the score of the final concert of the 100 Electric Guitars last year. In order to create such a percussion orchestra, the first of this size in the history of music, the Festival has launched a call for percussionists for a “long journey into and around the world’s oldest instrument,” in Tadini’s own words: “it will give us both an ecstatic admiration for its timbre and repetitive rhythmic cycle and its violent, explosive outburst. Circular time versus linear time. Ritual and rupture. Hypnosis and movement. Stasis and dance. Have a nice trip”.