Some of the most exciting music produced today is generated through experimentation and style fusion, a trend that Musical Bridges Around the World’s likes to showcase during its International Music Festival, scheduled this year for March 22-24 and March 29-31. Five different concerts will be presented in two venues – the Empire Theater and the San Fernando Cathedral – featuring Persian, Japanese, American and Austrian artists.
“The festival is a reflection of our mission which focuses on cultural diversity,” said pianist and MBAW founder Anya Grokhovski who hails from Russia but has lived in the U.S. since 1989. “Our guest artists come from different regions of the world and they showcase their respective cultures.”
First coming up on Friday is “Persian Delight with an American Twist,” starring three-time Grammy Award nominee Kayhan Kalhor who plays the traditional upright Persian fiddle, the kamancheh. He will team up with Brooklyn Rider, an innovative classical music quartet that has been called “the future of chamber music.” According to reports, the four musicians – Johnny Gandelsman (violin), Colin Jacob (violin), Nicholas Cords (viola) and Michael Nicholas (cello) – perform “with the energy of young rock stars” and play their own original arrangements of a wide range of musical compositions. Together, Kalhor and the quartet recently released the critically-acclaimed recording “Silent City.” (7 p.m. March 22, Empire Theater)
On Saturday, American jazz takes center stage, with two prominent trumpeters, Tom Harrell and Ambrose Akinmusire showing off their virtuosity, with the support of the Tom Harrell Quintet. No word on what exactly they will be performing. (Jazz Impressions, 7 p.m. March 23, Empire Theater)
Next, the sounds from the land of the rising sun will fill the Empire on Sunday, when the Kaoru Watanabe Trio brings taiko drumming and bamboo flutes to engage in musical dialogue with a harp. The U.S. born musician who studied jazz at the Manhattan School of Music, spent years in Japan mastering traditional instruments and travels widely performing his blended music, often with dance segments included. This will be the case with the MBAW concert as well. Houston ballet dancer Nao Kusuzaki is scheduled to appear with the trio. (3 p.m. March 24, Empire Theater)
The festival will shift gears rather dramatically next weekend when the Austin-based Austin Troubadours present music from medieval and Renaissance Europe in a concert titled “Tales of the Renaissance.” “They sing and play weird Baroque instruments, perfect for the San Fernando Cathedral’s acoustics,” said Grokhovski, who had sponsored the group’s appearances before. They also wear Renaissance costumes, she added, “so you get the full authentic experience.” “It’s an absolutely spectacular ensemble,” she emphasized. (7 p.m. March 29, San Fernando Cathedral)
Closing the fest will be “Family Affair,” a concert featuring Janoska, a quartet of brothers from Vienna, Austria, that specializes in “infusing” classical compositions with jazz, tango, Gypsy music, Latin and even some pop. They are incredible,” said Grokhovski enthusiastically. “I have never seen more talented musicians. (7 p.m. March 31, San Fernando Cathedral)
All concerts are free and open to the public. \lsdunhid