Here at the American Folklife Center, we’re busy working on the 2021 Homegrown at Home Concert Series. These concert videos, recorded at home by the artists, will be presented online every other Wednesday starting at noon (Eastern U.S. Time Zone), initially on the AFC Facebook page and then permanently on the Library of Congress YouTube channel and website. For most of the concerts, the artists have agreed to join us in the comments during the Facebook premiere, which you can always find by heading over to the American Folklife Center Facebook page, at this link, at noon on concert day. Also starting at noon on concert day, you can watch each concert on its own page at the Library of Congress website, which you can find through the Folklife Concerts page at this link. Or you can watch it over at the Library of Congress YouTube channel, at this link.
We’re still booking the 2021 series, so not all the concerts can be announced. But you can always find an up-to-date listing of the ones that ARE scheduled at the Folklife Concerts page at this link.
The series kicks off on March 10 with É.T.É., who play traditional and contemporary francophone music from Québec. The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress is proud to partner with the Embassy of Canada and the Québec Government Office in Washington to support this concert by É.T.É.
Élisabeth Moquin, Thierry Clouette and Élisabeth Giroux came together in 2015 to create this exciting group. They chose the name É.T.É., which is the group’s first initials but also the French word for summer. The trio offers a contemporary and dynamic vision of traditional Québec music, combining influences from folk, jazz, progressive rock, and classical music on fiddle, cello, bouzouki, voice, foot-tapping and step dancing. Élisabeth Moquin, the group’s fiddler and dancer, is an experienced player as well as a violin graduate in the traditional music program at the Cégep of Joliette. Multi-instrumentalist Thierry Clouette studied Irish bouzouki and Québec traditional music at Cégep de Joliette, and has a degree in musicology from the University of Montreal. Élisabeth Giroux graduated from the Montreal Conservatory of Music in cello, and often plays with the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean Symphony Orchestra as well as in numerous creative projects. Together they create daring and refined arrangements of pieces from the traditional Québec and Acadian repertoires. They also compose original pieces that contribute to the continuation of francophone musical traditions in Canada. Find the É.T.É concert page at this link.
The series continues on March 24 with separate concert videos by two groups from the Republic of Georgia. Ialoni Ensemble, whose video will premiere at noon, is a women’s group performing ecclesiatical, folk, and city music in traditional Georgian polyphony. Ranina Quartet, who premieres at 12:30, is a male group performing a similar repertoire. Both groups are highly skilled and widely acclaimed performers. Ialoni has been the recipient of several prestigious prizes, including 1st place in the “Women’s Folk Ensemble Category” at the National State Folklore Center Competition (2016), as well as both the grand prix in the Traditional Chant Category, and the first place and gold medal in the “Georgian Traditional Song” category at the Tbilisi Competition of Choral Music. Find the Ialoni Ensemble concert page at this link.
The Ranina Quartet is a new ensemble, but the individual members have been performing with other award-winning groups for many years. Their repertoire includes classic pieces from various genres including Georgian traditional folk songs, liturgical chants, and popular songs. Another source of inspiration is the American barbershop quartet, which bears a striking resemblance to the Georgian urban-song genre; both genres have roots in late-19th and early-20th century Italian harmony. The Ranina Quartet regularly performs in Tbilisi, as well as at international festivals, and gives master-classes and concerts for international tourists and choirs. Ranina is committed to popularizing good quality music as a form of social outreach, and the members are thrilled to sing in nursing homes, kindergartens, public schools, penitentiaries, and other venues where they can bring their music to vulnerable members of society. The Ranina Concert video also includes English-language narration by musicologist John Graham, which will help those of us who don’t speak Georgian to understand the themes of each song. Find the Ranina Quartet concert page at this link.
The next concert day is April 7, which again features two separate videos, this time with performers from Finland. The American Folklife Center is proud to co-sponsor both concerts with the Embassy of Finland. At noon on April 7, we will premiere a video by Kardemimmit, a Finnish quartet consisting of Maija Pokela, Jutta Rahmel, Anna Wegelius, and Leeni Wegelius, four women who sing and play kantele. The kantele is a zither or plucked psaltery which is the national instrument of Finland, and comes in several sizes. Kardemimmit is considered a pioneering kantele band: they have been the Kantele Association’s band of the year and won the International Kantele Competition. Kardemimmit has toured extensively in Europe, North America and Japan. The group has released five albums, one of which was published by The Rough Guide. Their 2012 album Autio Huvila was chosen as the Finnish folk album of the year. Find the Kardemimmit concert page at this link.
At 12:30 on April 7, we will premiere a concert video by Ánnámáret. Ánnámáret is the performing name of Sámi musician Anna Näkkäläjärvi-Länsman. Ánnámáret performs yoik, a distinctive singing and songwriting tradition of the Sámi people, and also plays clarinet. The Sámi are an indigenous people whose homeland is now part of several European countries. From 2012 to 2015, Ánnámáret worked as the Regional Artist for Sámi Culture in Finland. In recent years, she has explored the yoik tradition of her family by studying archival tapes of family members. Through this work, she has created the multi-form work of art called Nieguid duovdagat (Dreamscapes), in which yoiking, the playing of the bowed lyre called a jouhikko, and modern live electronics are combined with live visuals. For her Homegrown concert, Ánnámáret will be joined by two members of her Nieguid duovdagat project: Ilkka Heinonen, who specialises in folk music on the jouhikko, G-violone and contrabass; and Turkka Inkilä, who plays flutes and electronic instruments. Find the Ánnámáret concert page at this link.
We’ll have another concert April 21, and continue every other Wednesday into September, but we can’t tell you about those concerts yet! Remember: you can always find the up-to-date list at the Library of Congress Folklife Concerts Page, which you can find at this link.