Halalisa Singers: It Takes a Village
January 22, 2011
The 28+ voices of Lexington’s Halalisa Singers invite all members of the global village (this means you!) to celebrate friendship, community, and cooperation in song. The world music ensemble’s winter concerts on Jan. 22-23 in Lexington and Acton call up cozy images of togetherness to beat back the winter blues. Whether working, playing, or dancing, the music offers uplifting reminders of connection and unity. The program’s cornerstone is Ben Allaway’s song cycle, “Bandari: Inside These Walls.” Bandari is the poetical rendering of the phrase banda la amani or "house of peace." Be it a church, temple, community center, or family home, every community has such a place, where people gather to celebrate, work out problems, and find a renewed sense of purpose. The inspiration, style, and language of “Bandari” come from African-Caribbean calypso, Kenyan children's songs, East African dialect, Masai/Swahili text, and South African Freedom songs. Allaway wrote it after his experiences in Africa, where he “found that singing was used in tribal society to settle conflicts, arguments and other disputes between individuals, families, or entire tribes.” The program also features Joan Szymko’s African-style piece “It Takes a Village,” the Glee arrangement of Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me,” Nick Page’s arrangement of the Romani dance “Niska Banja,” and “We Are One” by Sweet Honey in the Rock’s Ysaye Barnwell. A beautiful, ethereal flute line overlays the melody in Neil Ginsburg’s arrangement of the traditional “Hine Ma Tov.” The chorus imitates a Gamelan ensemble in Budi Susanto Yohanes’ version of the Balinese dance “Janger.” The Irish song “Rakes of Mallow” about the cads and rascals from the town of Mallow in County Cork provides comic relief, the medieval Spanish dance melody “Oy Es Dia de Placer” celebrates joie de vivre, and the South African song “Babethandaza” gets a spirited, a cappella delivery. Halalisa Singers’ Artistic Director Mary Neumann conducts the concert and performs on flute, with pianist Valerie Ross, tenor Samuel Martinborough (as featured soloist in “Bandari”), percussionists Bertram Lehmann and Matt Meyer, and clarinetist Glenn Dickson. Among the artists the distinguished lineup of soloists has appeared with are Samba Tremeterra, Shirim Klezmer Orchestra, Luciana Souza, Mango Blue, and Natraj. Come in from the cold and warm your heart with Halalisa’s joyful celebration of international songs of community!