Festival Review: Hullegeb Festival

Ethiopian music, Confederation House, December 9.

December 10, 2014 20:10
Hullegeb Festival in Jerusalem

The annual Hullegeb Festival in Jerusalem begins on December 4. (photo credit: PR)

Whoever was looking forward to traditional Ethiopian songs and instruments got his wish with the Lela group’s performance in the Hullegeb Festival of Ethiopian Arts.

Standouts were the song “The Gossiper,” and the one following it where the Ethiopian violin masenqo, played by Dejan Manchilot, blended in admirably with singer Dege Feder’s sometimes husky, always expressive and sometimes caressing voice.

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Her often parlando and occasionally melodious style fascinated with its tonalities, different both from the Western major-minor ones and the Asian modes.

In the rest of the (lengthy) program, Western instruments such as guitar, saxophone, bass and jazz percussion accompanied the singer, overshadowing her voice most of the time. By doing so, the Ethiopian artists followed the current trend prevailing among Eastern musicians: Instead of proudly preserving their own glorious authentic musical heritage with the first-rate traditional instrumentalists that do indeed exist, as the singer admitted herself they tend to dilute it with Western instruments and performance styles. Although these did their very best, they were hardly suitable for performing with the traditional-style Ethiopian songs.

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