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The Legendary Epic of Kosovo and “The Song of the Wedding of Halil”

November 13, 2018

The Intercultural Institute of Comparative Music Studies of the Fondazione “Giorgio Cini” (Venice),  promotes and hosts an international event dedicated to the tradition of epic singing in Kosovo, in collaboration with the LEAV, the Milman Parry Collection of Oral Literature (Harvard University) and the Institute of Albanian Studies (Priština). An introductory seminar will be followed by a concert featuring the greatest living performer of that tradition, the singer Isa Elezi Lekgjekaj (born 1947).

The seminar, led by Nicola Scaldaferri, will be attended by Ettore Cingano (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice), David F. Elmer (Harvard University), and Zymer Ujkan Neziri (Institute of Albanian Studies, Priština). The event will offer an occasion to present an editorial project by Nicola Scaldaferri, Wild Songs, Sweet Songs (Kânga t’egra, Kânga të buta). The Albanian Epic in the Collections of Milman Parry and Albert B. Lord.

The concert will include a complete performance of The Song of the Wedding of Halil with Italian subtitles. The çiflteli and sharki players Hasan Hasani and Januz Mushkolaj will accompany Isa Elezi Lekgjekaj, performing some instrumental pieces.

The event will take place at the Fondazione “Giorgio Cini”, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore (Venice). The seminar will start at 3:30 pm; the concert will follow at 6:30 pm.

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“Sacred Mountains” in Viggiano

June 15, 2018

Screening and public discussion in the place of one of the pilgrimages of the film Sacred Mountains (2017).

Introduced by Vittorio Prinzi, former major of the town; with the participation of don Paolo D’Ambrosio, Rector of the Sanctuary of S. Maria del Sacro Monte.

The event will take place at the Auditorium “Giovanni Paolo II” in Viggiano (Potenza), at 6:30 pm.

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The Song of the Wedding of Halil

May 30-31, 2018

Isa Elezi-Lekgjekaij (in civil records Isa Muriqi, born 1947) is nowadays the greatest epic singer in Rugova district. This area, at the border with Albania and Montenegro, is recognized as the most important repository for the living Albanian epic tradition accompanied with lahuta – the one stringed bowed instrument also known as gusle in the Slavic culture.

His repertoire includes legendary epics about the deeds of the brothers Muji and Halil, which covers several thousands of formulaic verses. The singing is based on a few rhythmic and melodic patterns, continuously supported by the instrument which revolves around a small range of pitches.

The two-days work with Isa, carried out by Nicola Scaldaferri and Giovanni Cestino, aside from video recordings of The Song of the Wedding of Halil, gave chance to conversations about some features of the performance: the relationship between voice and lahuta observed from the timbral side, and the importance of body rhythm in managing the performance and shaping the structure of the song. Prof. Zymer U. Neziri (Institute of Albanian Studies in Prishtina) provided an invaluable help in organizing the trip to Rugova, as well as in the study of the recorded material.

Moreover, this occasion was a preliminary step towards an event scheduled for November 13th, 2018, promoted by the Intercultural Institute of Comparative Music Studies, Foundation “Giorgio Cini” in Venice. In that case, Isa’s performance will be offered in a concert form, and framed by a seminar about the issues raised by proposing nowadays such kind of epic songs to a general public, the textualization of the “composing in performance” process, and a more general discussion about media documentation and living performance.

 

Photographs by Nicola Scaldaferri, Giovanni Cestino and Linda Muriqi

 


Our thanks go to Mikaela Minga, Vesel Nikçi and Zymer Syla for their help during our journey to and back from Koshutan, and to family Muriqi for their hospitality.

Gestualità, sapori, suoni e sentimenti

May 3, 2018

As part of the course in Anthropology of Music, prof. Michael Herzfeld (Harvard University) will hold a lecture with screening of some excerpts of his film Roman Restaurant Rhythms. The lecture will take place at the Department of Cultural Heritage and Environment, University of Milan (via Noto 8, aula K32), at 16:30.

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Michael Herzfeld is Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University, where has taught since 1991, and is Director of the Asia Center’s Thai Studies Program at Harvard.  He is also Honorary Professorial Fellow in the Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne; IIAS Visiting Professor of Critical Heritage Studies, Leiden University; Senior Advisor, Critical Heritage Studies Initiative, International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden; and Chang Jiang Scholar, Shanghai International Studies University.  He is the author of eleven books (most recently Siege of the Spirits: Community and Polity in Bangkok, 2016), two films (Monti Moments, 2007, and Roman Restaurant Rhythms, 2011), and numerous articles and reviews, and his honors include the J.I. Staley Prize and the Rivers Memorial Medal (both in 1994).  In addition to a D.Phil. from Oxford University (1976) and a D.Litt. from the University of Birmingham (1989), he holds honorary doctorates from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (2005), the University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki (2011), and the University of Crete (2013), and has been named an Honorary Professor of Shandong University (P.R.C.) for 2013-2018 and of the Southwestern University of Nationalities (Chengdu, P.R. China) for 2014-17.  In the autumn of 2013 held a Visiting Fellowship at King’s College, Cambridge, and served as Visiting William Wyse Professor at Cambridge University. A former president of the Modern Greek Studies Association and of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe, he is affiliated with the anthropology programs at Thammasat University, Bangkok and Università “La Sapienza,” Rome, and has held various visiting appointments at the universities of Manchester, Paris-X (Nanterre), Ecole des Hautes Etudes (Paris), Melbourne, Padova, Cagliari, Messina, and Malta.  A member of the editorial boards of American Ethnologist,Ethnologie Française, and International Journal of Heritage Studies and several other journals, he has served as editor of American Ethnologist(1995-98) and is currently editor-at-large (responsible for “Polyglot Perspectives”) at Anthropological Quarterly.  His research in Greece, Italy, and Thailand has most recently addressed the social and political impact of historic conservation and gentrification, the dynamics of nationalism and bureaucracy, and the ethnography of knowledge among artisans and intellectuals. 

The Aesthetic of the Unexpected and the Politics of Recognition in Jazz History

March 20, 2018

As part of the course in Anthropology of Music, prof. Alessandro Duranti (UCLA, Los Angeles) will hold a lecture on jazz history and aesthetics. The lecture will take place at the Department of Cultural Heritage and Environment, University of Milan (via Noto 8, aula K32), at 16:30.

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Alessandro Duranti is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and former Dean of Social Sciences at UCLA (2009-2016). His research projects have focused on the distinctive role of verbal, visual, and aural communication in political arenas, everyday life, and jazz performance. Theoretically, he has been interested in agency, intentionality, and intersubjectivity, with a special attention given to the tension between plans and improvisation. Methodologically, he has favored participant-observation and audio-visual recordings of spontaneous interaction in Samoa, the US, France, and Italy. His books include The Samoan Fono: A Sociolinguistic Study (Pacific Linguistics Monographs, 1981), Rethinking Context: Language as an Interactive Phenomenon (co-edited with C. Goodwin, Cambridge 1992), From Grammar to Politics: Linguistic Anthropology in a Western Samoan Village (University of California Press, 1994), Linguistic Anthropology (Cambridge University Press, 1997), A Companion to Linguistic Anthropology (Blackwell, 2004), Handbook of Language Socialization (co-edited with E. Ochs and B.B. Schieffelin, Wiley-Blackwell 2012), and The Anthropology of Intentions: Language in a World of Others (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Duranti is co-founder (with Bambi B. Schieffelin) of the journal Pragmatics (formerly IPrA Papers in Pragmatics), former editor of the Journal of Linguistic Anthropology (1999-2001), and past President of the Society of Linguistic Anthropology (1997-1999). In 1999, he received the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the UCLA Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award, and the American Anthropological Association/Mayfield Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. In 2008 he was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

Female Voices in Indian Music Culture and Literature

March 8, 2018

As part of the course in Ethnomusicology, Prof. Francesca Cassio (Hofstra University, NY) will hold a lecture on the female presence in Indian musical culture and literature. The lecture will take place at the Department of Cultural Heritage and Environment, University of Milan (via Noto 8, aula K02), at 12:30.

Abstract

Based on iconographic, literary and oral sources, this lecture discusses the repertoires performed by women in private and public settings, from the temple to the court. In particular, the presenter debates the ambiguity of the musical texts, swinging between the categories of sacred and secular music in relation to the context of the performance. The lecture offers a reflection on the impact of gender ideologies on female music makers in North India, ranging from early music to pre-Partition era, with focus on the case study of the medieval poetess Mirabai and the 18th-19th century courtesans’ tradition. The event showcases original audio-visual materials from Prof. Cassio’s archive, and it is enriched with live examples of traditional compositions sung by the presenter.

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Francesca Cassio on Academia.edu

 

Francesca Cassio is Full Professor of Music at Hofstra University (NY), and since 2011 holds the first endowed chair in Sikh Musicology established in the United States.

Since 1994, Dr. Cassio has conducted extensive research in India, where she lived and has been professionally trained in classical vocal music and in the Sikh kirtan repertoire, according to the Guru-Shishya Parampara (“teacher-student”) tradition.

She is disciple of legendary masters of the 20th century: the dhrupad singer Ustad Rahim Fahimuddin Khan Dagar, the thumri singer Vidushi Girija Devi, the temple musician Hazoori Ragi Bhai Gurcharan Singh. Dr. Cassio also received extensive vocal training in vocal by Bhai Baldeep Singh, the 13th generation exponent of Gurbānī kirtan maryada, and by Professor Ritwik Sanyal (Benares Hindu University).

Prior to joining the Hofstra faculty, she served as a visiting professor in musicology at Visva Bharati University in Shantiniketan, India; lecturer of ethnomusicology at the University of Trento, Italy; lecturer of anthropology of music at the Conservatory of Adria, Italy; and lecturer of ethnomusicology and Indian music at the Conservatory of Vicenza, Italy.

Accomplished performer and scholar, Dr. Cassio is the author of several publications, including a monograph on dhrupad (Percorsi della voce. Ut Orpheus: Bologna, 2000). In 2015 she was awarded the Stessin Prize for outstanding scholarly publication, with the article “Female Voices in Gurbānī Sangīand the Role of the Media in Promoting Female Kīrtanīe.