Monday, 6 February 2012

Ny Malagasy Orkestra – The National Orchestra of Madagascar

On Saturday, at Prudhomat in the Lot, outside the Salle des Fetes it was minus 8 deg C, but inside it was hot and getting hotter.  The NY Malagasy Orkestra was performing their second set and my friends and acquaintances had the rare treat of seeing me dancing along with the rest of the audience!

These guys are really good musicians.  They come from all parts of Madagascar and play mostly traditional instruments like the strange double necked box guitar, a three string bass and a box harp.  The amplification of their acoustic instruments allowed them to perform and be heard in front of the gloriously indisciplined audience (I’m more used to opera and classical music).  They also use an accordion, a real guitar, violins and of course percussion.  They have excellent performers in all sections. 

Compared to some of the West African all electric bands that I’ve heard, their sound is more delicate and balanced. It was ideal for the smallish room where about 300 people had gathered. 
Justin Vali is a real virtuoso on the valiha, the instrument in the middle of this picture, which is traditionally made from a single piece of bamboo, but now often has steel strings that can be replaced when required.

The group had been in St Céré for a week and had visited the schools and the École de Musique so the kids were all there with their parents.  It was a very good night for the Lieu Commun, a local cultural organisation who promoted the residency, which is part of a winter festival they have called Madagascar en Quercy.
As well as playing African polyrhythms superbly, the members of the Orkestra  can also sing really well in harmony.

And finally, here’s a video of Justin Vali, who presented the evening, looking very cool in his Elvis shades and with his own troupe of dancing girls.  Well if you’ve got it flaunt it!

If they're ever performing near you don’t miss them!


Post a Comment