Seemingly obviating the need to get one’s feet dirty, the world music scene in London is ever-thriving (see e.g. Flamenco in Chiswick). The other day I went to an invigorating concert by Amaraterra in the SOAS concert series, furthering satisfying my appetite for the riches of Mediterranean culture (for taranta, see here; see also under the Iberia and Italy tags).
From the Amaraterra website:
Pizzica is the folk dance of Salento in the furthest reaches of southeastern Italy (the “heel of the Italian boot”). At a crossroads of civilisations, Salento has preserved its ancient Greek-Roman folk roots, with Dionysian festivals and the mythological bite of the tarantula that induces an irresistible urge to dance oneself into a trance-like state, accompanied by traditional tamburello drumming.
Formed in London in 2011 by passionate expats, Amaraterra has evolved into a thriving and multinational ensemble, while losing none of their traditional southern Italian flavour.
The crowd (apparently comprising most of the population of south Italy) did indeed have an irresistible urge to turn the demure Brunei Gallery into a throbbing dance venue. The intoxicating rhythms often suggest those of organetto and launeddas in Sardinia.
Cassandre Balbar decorated the vocals on wind instruments, including bagpipes—another good intercultural topic to explore, with various zampogna types in Italy, gaida around southeast Europe (for Bulgaria, see Timothy Rice, May it fill your soul), and even British versions. Here’s the fine documentary Zampogna: the soul of southern Italy (David Marker, 2011):
Here he suggests that Italian-Americans might explore their heritage beyond the standard clichés (cf. Pomodoro! and Accordion crimes). Indeed, I’m reminded of Anna Lomax’s remarkable recordings from 1963-64 New York (see under Italy: folk musicking, near the end).
Note also this sequel on the great Enza Pagliara!