12 Mar 2019

WOMAD: four acts not to miss

From RNZ Music, 9:00 am on 12 March 2019

RNZ's resident world music expert and host of Worlds of Music, Trevor Reekie, profiles four of the acts playing at this year's WOMAD festival.

Clockwise from top left: Silkroad Ensemble, Dona Onete, Nadia Reid, Ria Hall

Clockwise from top left: Silkroad Ensemble, Dona Onete, Nadia Reid, Ria Hall Photo: Supplied

1. Silkroad Ensemble

The Silkroad Ensemble, formed by acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma in 1998, is a loose collective of more than 60 members from 24 countries.

The pedigree of the ensemble’s ever-changing lineup, and the variety of instruments they use, makes for a totally unique sound.

The Grammy Award-winning group have been described as a kind of roving musical laboratory.

The Silkroad Ensemble have yet to confirm who from their group will be performing at WOMAD this year, but if Wu Man is there, audiences will be in for a treat. Wu Man is a virtuoso on the Chinese pipa, a kind of four-stringed lute, which has been played in China for almost 2,000 years. She’s been involved with the Silkroad Ensemble since its inception.

‘Shingashi Song’ is taken from the Silkroad Ensemble’s Grammy-winning album Sing Me Home, and features Brooklyn-based composer and musician Kaoru Watanabe playing Japanese taiko drums and a bamboo shinobi flute.

2. Dona Onete

79-year-old Brazilian singer Dona Onete released her debut album in 2014, despite singing all her life. She’s a vivacious storyteller who joyously sings of love and her life in the Amazon.

Dona’s young band, great songs, and boundless enegy, will no doubt make her one of the popular discoveries at this year’s WOMAD.

3. Nadia Reid

There's always lots of great local artists at WOMAD, and 2019 sees performances from Teeks, Charlotte Johansen, Kora, Ria Hall, Veils frontman Finn Andrews, The Black Seeds, and Nadia Reid.

Nadia is from Port Chalmers and has released two critically-acclaimed albums. Her motivation and work ethic have seen her touring locally and internationally, playing sold-out venues in the U.K. and earning positive reviews from the American and UK music press.

The Guardian described her latest album Preservation as a collection of "perfectly crafted statements from a blossoming talent”, and Mojo Magazine put it at #2 in their 50 Best Albums of 2017.

‘Call the Days’ is taken from Nadia's highly praised debut album Listen To Formation Look For The Signs.

4. Ria Hall

Ria Hall’s song ‘Te Ahi Kai Pō’ won the Maioha Māori songwriting award at last year’s Silver Scrolls. She won Best Female Artist at the 2018 Waiata Māori Music Awards and has toured extensively with Rob Ruha.

Her debut album, Rules of Engagement, touches on themes of love and war, revolution and change, and showcases her richly layered vocals performed in English and te reo Māori.

WOMAD will be the perfect setting to see Ria Hall perform her music, which has been described as having an epic soundscape that embraces and challenges multiple genres.

  • WOMAD 2019: Teeks, Angelique Kidjo and Silkroad Ensemble to perform
  • WOMAD 2019: day schedule released

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