Romani (Gypsy) culture and social issues.
The Gypsy Caravan:
A Festival of Roma Music and Dance
The Gypsy Caravan: A Festival of Roma Music and Dance is about to begin its North American tour.  Some of the venues have planned pre-concert talks, lecture and demos, dance parties, and other related events. Contact local sponsors for local details.

The six featured groups are:

India (Rajasthan): Musafir
Romania: Taraf de Haidouks
Hungary: Kalyi Jag
Bulgaria: Yuri Yunakov Ensemble
Russia: The Kolpakov Trio
Spain:  Antonio Pipa and Company (Flamenco)
March 1999:
Fri 12 - Stanford, CA: Memorial Auditorium
Sat 13 - Cal. Performances: Zellerbach Auditorium, Berkeley, CA
Mon 15 - Irvine Barclay Theater, Irvine, CA
Tues 16 - U.C.L.A. Performing Arts Center: Royce Hall
Wed 17 - Fort Worth, Texas: Bass Performing Hall
Sun-Mon 21-22 - Symposium on Rom Culture and Music, University of Texas, Austin
Tues 23 - University of Texas Performing Arts Center, Hogg Auditorium (sold out), Austin
Thurs 25 - University Musical Society, University of Michigan: Michigan Theater
Fri 26 - Ohio State University: Wexner Center, Weigal Hall, Columbus
Sun 28 - Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Sarasota, FL
Tues 30 - Miami Dade Community College, Colony Theater,  Miami, FL
April 1999:
Thurs 1 - Kennedy Center, Concert Hall, Washington D.C.
Sat 3 - Sanders Theater, Cambridge, MA
Sun 4 - Dance Party, Concord, MA
Mon 5 - Sanders Theater, Cambridge, MA
Tues 6 - Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, N.H.
Wed 7 - Flynn Theater, Burlington, Vermont
Fri 9 - City Center, New York
Sat 10 - City Center, New York
Mon 12 - Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada
Taraf de Haidouks
Taraf de Haidouks

Some excerpts from the program notes by Carol Silverman...

..."The Gypsy Caravan" provides a rare opportunity for North American audiences to experience the diversity and dynamism of contemporary Rom music and dance. Despite continuous historical attempts to assimilate or eradicate Roma (singular Rom; adjective Rom or Romani), their musical arts are thriving. The contributions of Roma to European culture are indeed striking...

...Musafir ("Traveler" in Farsi), from Rajasthan in northwest India, has dazzled European audiences in recent years with its energetic hybrid versions of Indian folk and popular music, acrobatics, and feats of physical endurance. Musafir has performed to enthusiastic crowds at hundreds of concerts and festivals all over Europe, such as WOMAD, Roskilde, Paleo, Sfinks, and Ritmos. Musafir is featured on the CD "Gypsies of Rajasthan" (Blue Flame) and some members appeared in the film Latcho Drom, a staged documentary of Rom music. In "The Gypsy Caravan" a musical component of Musafir portrays the symbolic and historical connection of Roma to northwest India. The artists in Musafir are not the actual ancestors of contemporary European Roma but rather suggest some of the occupational and artistic niches that Roma might have occupied in Rajasthan. The term Gypsy was applied by the British to numerous nomadic groups in India who have no proven relationship to European Roma...

...The Kolpakov Trio, from Moscow, is the first Russian Rom ensemble to tour North America in the postsocialist period.  The striking style of the group reflects the training of its members at the Moscow Romen Theater which arranges traditional music and dance for polished stage performance. Sasha (Aleksandre) Kolpakov, the group's director, was born in 1943 in the district of Orienburg in Eastern Russia. He was raised with music among the Servo group of Roma and began playing the seven-string guitar as a boy. In the 1960's he moved to Moscow and has since worked with a number of groups, including the Romen Theater.  He is a composer as well as a singer and instrumentalist. His nephew, Vadim Kolpakov, seventeen years old, has mastered the seven-string guitar and the vocal style. Vadim is from the Saratov region of Russia and moved to Moscow three years ago to train with his uncle. He has been a member of the group since 1997 and also plays with the Romen Theater. Oleksandr (Sasha) Savelev was born  in 1954 in the region of Kiev, Ukraine, and has worked with Kolpakov for several years as a dancer and singer. He sings the characteristic harmony parts which include thirds and "oral bassing" (short, exclamation-like vocables sung in a syncopated manner). The Opre organization in Zurich, Switzerland, produced the Kolpakov Trio's first CD, "Rodava Tut " (I Look For You)...

...Taraf de Haïdouks ("Band of Brigands") hails from the village of Clejani, near Bucharest, and represents three generations of musicians. The older members, who play a more traditional style, interact dynamically with the younger members, who value rapid tempi and new musical elements sometimes from other Balkan countries.  Before becoming touring stars, Taraf de Haïdouks had never performed outside its region. The members are la`utari (professional musicians), who play at village events such as weddings and baptisms. In Southern Romania, practically all la`utari are male Roma-- in Clejani alone, there are numerous la`utari , all Roma...

...The Yuri Yunakov Ensemble showcases the haunting melodies, dense ornamentation, complex rhythms, and stunning improvisations of Balkan Rom music from Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.   The geographical position of the Balkans in southeastern Europe along with hundreds of years of Ottoman Turkish rule have created a wealth of influences from both East and West.  The ensemble performs in the style of contemporary  "wedding music," named for its ubiquitous presence at life cycle celebrations such as weddings, baptisms, and circumcisions where dancing and music are a requirement. Gaining popularity in  the 1970's, wedding style emphasizes improvisation, virtuosic technique, rapid tempos, daring key changes, and eclectic musical literacy. A multiplicity of influences, such as jazz and rock, and a wealth of sources including Turkish, Arab, and Indian musics, are combined with Balkan rural and urban folk musics...

...Kalyi Jag was part of the Hungarian urban revival of rural music in the 1970's,  and the ensemble spurred interest in and affirmation of Rom music, dance, and language in Hungary. To stimulate interest in Rom folk arts, Kalyi Jag started the "Ethnic Folk Music Gala" in 1990, and in 1991 they founded the Kalyi Jag Roma Art Association. In 1993 they founded a high school in Budapest which helps bring Roma into the mainstream educational system. The group's effect on the social and cultural situation of Roma has been exemplary. The members of the group, many of whom have grown up in Rom families, are: Gusztáv Varga (director, vocals, guitar), József Balogh (vocals, guitar, mandolin, tambura, spoons), József Nagy (vocals, water can), Ágnes Künstler Balogh (vocals, dancer), and Zolt Farkas (vocals, guitar, dancer). They are all collectors, composers, and arrangers of Rom music as well as performers...

...Antonio El Pipa and Company, from Andalucia, Spain, is one of the most exciting, most traditional flamenco groups performing today.  Born in Jerez, flamenco dancer Antonio comes from a dynasty of Gitano (Spanish word for Roma, meaning Egyptian) artists, among whom are his grandmother, the legendary Tía Juana la del Pipa (now deceased), and his aunt Juana la del Pipa,  who has been singing and dancing in his group since its inception. The dance production  "Gypsy Passion" showcased Antonio and his aunt Juana and brought accolades from critics such as Jennifer Dunning of the New York Times, who lauded Antonio's striking presence and energy. In 1992 the show ran for several months in New York, and also in Paris and Seville.  In 1998, his new work, Vivencias, a memorial to his grandmother, premiered to enthusiastic audiences...

Information provided by Carol Silverman, educational coordinator for "The Gypsy Caravan: A Festival of Roma Music and Dance."
Posted 27 February 1999.

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