Philippine music fest celebrates cultural links
By Roli Ng
MANILA (Reuters Life!) - Sitars, balalaikas and a medley of other stringed instruments took center stage this week as musicians from across Asia and the Middle East transcended the bounds of language and culture for a Manila music festival.
The four-day International Rondalla Festival gave each country a chance to showcase native stringed instruments in both traditional and modern tunes -- an attempt to woo back young people more interested in iTunes than centuries-old instruments.
"Among all the different instruments in the world, the plucked string is one that has real connections all over the world," said La Verne Dela Pena, a musicologist.
"Of course there are other instruments as well but for some reason the plucked string is where you can have connective heritage."
Featured instruments ranged from Asian lute-style instruments such as the sitar and the Thai two-stringed sueng, to the pear-shaped Iranian tanbour and the Russian balalaika.
Musicians from China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines all took part in the festival, now in its third year.
"It is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to express feelings of pain or happiness with language," said tanbour player Arash Shahriari.
"We believe that music and art is a language that can easily be used to channel that feeling to others." Continued...