The world will come together from September 7 to 23 at 17 venues across the city for the 20th Annual World Music Festival Chicago. Celebrating diverse music from across the globe, this FREE festival is produced by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and is the largest festival of its kind in the United States. The full schedule can be found at www.worldmusicfestivalchicago.org
Gambian virtuoso musician Sona Jobarteh comes from a long line of expert 21-string kora players. But as much as this heritage has been passed through the generations of her griot family, she also broke with tradition in excelling at an instrument that has long been considered exclusively for men. That’s not the only way that she has challenged expected norms. She also learned how to play the cello, piano and harp as a child and then studied the Western classical repertoire at England’s Royal College Of Music. As a member of her brother Tunde Jegede’s ACM Ensemble, she toured the world with a host of global musicians. In 2010, Jobarteh composed the score to the film The Motherland, which featured her own invention, the nkora, which combined a kora with the ngoni (West African lute). The following year, she released her debut disc, Fasiya (Heritage), which combines a range of acoustic strings and electric guitars. Her songs advocate for women’s rights across Africa and for unity among the young generation of Africans.
Actores Alidos practices the venerated Sardinian legacy of five-part vocal polyphony. Singers Valeria Pilia, Manuela Sanna, Roberta Locci, and Valeria Parisi (all of whom double on percussion) perform mostly a cappella historic and contemporary love songs, dances and laments alongside multi-instrumentalist Orlando Mascia. Actores Alidos’ songs also reflect valued social ideals and religious rites. While this repertoire has traditionally been the role of male choirs, this ensemble’s arrangements for women voices is just one way that this ensemble has brought an original take on the heritage. The group, which began as part of an Italian theatrical company, has also reached across the planet for collaborators. Its 2016 Galanias (Beautiful Things) includes a guest appearance from Tuvan throat singer Sainkho Namtychylak.