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When worlds collide
Friday, 17 September 2010
ImageGrowing local festival consistently proves that music indeed has the power to bring the world together

By Bill Nevins
Now in its sixth year as one of the country’s top world music festivals, ¡Globalquerque! still holds many surprises, even for co-founders Tom Frouge and Neal Copperman.

“Certain things come together each year that we just didn’t plan, and we love that about ¡Globalquerque!,” Frouge told Local iQ recently.

Surprises are to be expected given that this wholly unique annual event orchestrates a trio of simultaneously active stages featuring dozens of acts from five of the world’s continents performing over two nights.

By all accounts, this is no small feat. ¡Globalquerque! is much more than East meets West meets North meets South. Rather, this event is a global gathering of the musical traditions and cultures of disparate and seemingly unrelated peoples. In a very literal way, worlds collide here. Via the universal nature of music, the cultural spirit of each of the event’s featured acts effectively spiral together, nurture one another and perhaps (if Frouge and Copperman are doing their jobs right) give birth to a greater reality.

“In a way, it’s spiritual,” said Frouge concisely.

ImageTake, for example, the band Oreka Tx. Every performance put on by this Spanish/Basque duo requires precise cooperation due to the group’s chosen instrument: the txalaparta, a vibraphone-like instrument that can only be played by two musicians. The group’s latest CD, Nomadak Tx, is a set of collaborative recordings featuring musicians from India, Lapland, Mongolia and North Africa. The members of Oreka Tx have toured the world since 2004, documenting encounters such as playing an Arctic musical instrument made entirely of ice.

Or, consider Rahim Al Haj, the Iraqi-born oud virtuoso and composer, who is justly beloved by audiences in his adopted hometown of Albuquerque. The Grammy-nominated musician is scheduled to perform this year with his recently formed Little Earth Orchestra, an ensemble that effectively blends western instrumentation with Arabic and other musical modes via a septet that features percussionist Souhail Kaspar and a classical string section. The group will be joined by guests Hossein Omoumi (Iran), Stephen Kent (Australia) and Roshan Jamal Bhartiya (India).

Another notable act featured at this year’s festival hails from a point on the globe that is a little closer to home: Texas. The Flatlanders, a legendary trio of West Texan troubadours that includes lauded songwriters and guitarists Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely and Butch Hancock, will be joined onstage  by El Paso-based songwriter Tom Russell.

ImageFor a number of world music aficionados, the inclusion of an Americana band from Lubbock might raise more than an eyebrow. However, Frouge noted that, from a truly global perspective, “world music” can ostensibly come from anywhere on the map.

“(The Flatlanders) are world music to listeners in other countries,” Frouge purported. “The truth is, there really is no such genre as world music; it depends on where you’re from, and the whole wide world is fair game. It’s all good music!”

Some of that music serves as a reminder of the hard realities of recent world events, while offering glimpses of hope. This year’s ¡Globalquerque! will have a particular focus on Haiti, which Frouge says is intended to, “Remind people that there is still much to be done (in Haiti) to get past the terrible damage of the earthquake.” Haitiian-born vocalist and songwriter Emeline Michel will perform on both nights of the festival and lead some of the festival’s scheduled workshop sessions. Dubbed the “Reigning Queen of Haitian Song,” Michel has two decades of worldwide performances and nine albums to her credit. Singing in both French and Creole, she combines traditional rhythms with a contemporary social, political and spiritual viewpoint.

Additional ¡Globalquerque! highlights:

• Three-time-Grammy-winning Mohican singer/songwriter/flautist Bill Birdsong Miller will bring his Native American sensibility and rich life experience to bear.
• The Cellicion Zuni Dancers offer traditional New Mexico visions in motion.
Khaïra Arby, the “Nightingale of the North,” from a small village near the Sahara Desert town of Timbuktu, brings songs from long ago and far, far away.
• Peruvian diva Susanna Baca promises to enthrall ¡Globalquerque! audiences with her sophisticated Afro-Peruvian songs.
Los Martinez will offer an intriguing, but too-little-known brand of music from Northern New Mexico.
• Palestian instrumentalist Simon Shaheen
• Portuguese fado group Deolinda
• The hauntingly jazzy Skaidi from Norway

As if this wide spectrum of world music wasn’t enough to thrill local music lovers, ¡Globalquerque! will offer a rich selection of food, arts and crafts in the International Village. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could absorb all of this global culture in just two days, but it should be great fun trying to do so. Where else in the world would you want to be?
6p, Fri., Sep. 24 and Sat., Sep. 25
National Hispanic Cultural Center 1701 4th SW, 505.724.4771
Tickets:, NHCC Box Office (505.724.4771) and
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