Alina Ciolcă : A chant of worlds – a blend of blues and songs with a drawl

The concert will take place on February 3 at Teatrul National

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A conceptual concert, drawing on the „Vlach” dimension of the project will take place on the 3rd of February, 2020, at Teatrul National – Pictura Hall (sala Pictura), with guests : the renowned artist and researcher Grigore Leșe, the traditional Megleno-Romanian dance group „Altona”, Cristian Chiriac (the voice of ethno-rock group Iarba Fiarelor), the actress and singer Anca Constantin.

Between darkness and light : singing Vlach North and South of the Danube (video release) / Întuneric și lumină : incursiuni în cântul vlah de-a nordul și de-a sudul Dunării (lansare videoclip) 

The playlist, the setting, as well as the video release of a traditional Megleno-Romanian song will be showcasing, with varying intensities, topical antitheses and tensions revealed in musical folklore from North and South of the Danube, in the four historical dialects, exploring nothing less than the brighter or darker transfigurations of the human soul.

It’s perhaps useful to mention that even while it can be deemed as a niche project, it doesn’t aim to be, nor is it an elitist one. When entering the concert hall, one doesn’t require theoretical background (this will be delivered anyway throughout the act along with the music). One just requires an open heart to live and feel, the way people have always done when singing/chanting their hearts out in surprisingly close ways…

…besides of being Alina Ciolca’s English title of her first solo album, this is more than anything a life philosophy: singing as a universal form of ritual and catharsis, a state of mind and the musical genre in which it evolved later and the visceral musical expression in which you pour your soul out, also closely connected with traditional music (songs with a drawl).

However, this is not about a blues album, but about archetypal sounds and feelings that transcend worlds.  This project brings back into the light the “blues from before the blues” through the traditional African-American music which it stemmed from,  in a conceptual and auditive fusion with archaic folklore in the four historical dialects of the ancestral Romanian (Vlach) language that some Romanians, in the absence of any other experience, may have heard about only in school: Daco-Romanian, Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian and Istro-Romanian.

How come ? Seeking the folkloric roots of the blues music she was already playing with her blues-rock band Dusty Ride led to a revelation: how the same feelings had been translated into very similar musical structures, lyrical content and traditional singing across the Ocean and the Danube. It felt like these people, albeit not connected in any way, would shout out their pains and joys, their sorrows and longings in the same way in a field-holler (African-American a cappella work song) as in a “doina” (Romanian traditional lyrical a cappella song) from northern Transylvania (Maramures).

Even if these discoveries are merely empirical and free of any scientific claim, it’s perhaps no coincidence that the great American ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax had not just unveiled to the world so much of the African-American heritage but was also no stranger to Romanian traditional music, editing a Romanian archaic folklore album for Columbia Records in 1960 followed by his own visit to our region of Transylvania.

This is all rendered with a relatively minimalistic but essential instrumental accompaniment on a „less is more” principle by Adrian Chepa (percussions, bass) and Bogdan Bîngă (electric and slide guitar) and an organic vocal interpretation, preserving the specific elements of traditional singing. The stylistic register of all these songs „with a drawl” on both sides of the Ocean is quite eclectic but coherent at the same time : field-hollers, doinas, prison blues, polyphonic songs, spirituals and gospel, outlaw ballads, country-hill blues, ritualistic and dancing songs.

The album was released in April 2019 and since then, the project has participated in country-wide cultural events and festivals, such as Festivalul Internațional de Folclor București 2019, Festivalul de Film și Istorii Râșnov 2019, Tam-Tam Festival Brasov 2019, Tre-Kultur Mix Pensiunea  Dacica 2019, 7 in 7 Art Festival, Festivalul de blues si jazz Bluzău 2019, besides independently organised events.




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