7th Annual NY Gypsy Festival

This weekend and the next few weekends coming up will continue the 7th Annual NY Gypsy Festival, held at DROM in New York City.  Last night, I was lucky enough to attend the performance of the group Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino from Puglia, Italy, with special guest and good friend, Alessandra Belloni.  What a magical evening - the energy in the room was spectacular and the ability to see such a vibrant and talented group of musicians of this generation was a real honor.  Italian Folk Music, especially the pizzica from the Puglia region, has been very much influenced by so many cultures including the Romani people - over the years, this style has grown in popularity, which also means it has become a bit diluted.  However, the Canzoniere have kept true to the traditional songs and styles of singing and playing this music, and when seeing them perform, you feel as though you are transported back in time. Mauro Durante, the band's leader (he grew up playing with the band and replaced his father Daniele upon his retirement), is the this style of music personified.  Violinist, vocalist, and hand drum prodigy, you can see that this music is literally in his blood.  This quick hand drum solo intro is as intricate and complex as a complete rhythm on a drum kit with bass drum, snare and hi-hat.

Maria Mazzotta, whose haunting voice sang this lullaby, "Bella Ci Dormi" as though she was crying, stopped everyone in the room, overcome by emotion.  A beautiful melody, a beautiful voice, and a beautiful recount of "the beauty that sleeps":

And to end this enchanting Gypsy evening, the group performed a ronda, meaning circle, which traditionally was done as a healing ritual to rid the body of evil spirits and energy.  Once these harmful aspects of one's life were driven out of the body by the drums, singing, and vigorous dancing, you were thought to be healed and blessed for the remainder of your days.  We all felt a collective healing by the end of this concert - grazie, Canzoniere!

The festival will continue until Saturday, October 1st, 2011 so be sure to check out some incredible upcoming performances - click here for more information on tickets and schedule.  And to purchase the Festival Pass at a discounted rate of $25 (usually $45!), go to NY Gypsy Festival Pass and use offer code "gypsy91211".