Zoom in on Masters is a new project created by the Intercultural Institute of Comparative Musical Studies (IISMC) and focused on some “masters” of important musical and dance traditions, who had been due to perform on the island of San Giorgio. In a virtual space, they will converse on music topics of common interest and describe their own activities as well as some IISMC projects which, because of the international coronavirus health emergency, have inevitably been suspended but will resume as soon as possible. Zoom in on Masters is a great opportunity to reflect on the peculiar conditions that musicians and dancers are experiencing, especially those working on projects involving intercultural exchanges and interactions, at this time of lockdowns and social distancing.
Coordinated by Simone Tarsitani (Durham University), a series of three online meetings with music or dance performance will enhance the broad range of IISMC audiovisual documents, which now enjoy a large following on the Fondazione Giorgio Cini YouTube channel.
In the first conversation, Kudsi Ergüner, director of the long-standing Birûn project devoted to Ottoman classical music, talks to Giovanni De Zorzi (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice) and some musicians who participated in previous Birûn workshops as scholarship holders. They will reflect on the overall value of the project and its benefits for training and research. They will also introduce the theme of the next seminar: the instrumental compositions of Prince Dimitri Cantemir (1673-1723).
In the second meeting, Sabine Châtel, a music promoter particular active in Syrian music circles, is in conversation with Giovanni De Zorzi, some musicians currently in Syria and Paris, and Massimiliano Trentin (University of Bologna). They will discuss the importance of the Syrian musical tradition in the Arab and Middle Eastern world. The musicians, including the famous singer Omar Sarmini, had been scheduled to give a concert of classical Aleppo singing, an unusual, refined style that will be described in the conversation. The musicians will also give their views on the special existential and professional condition of a generation of musicians who have had to live with the civil war and now with the pandemic, many of them far from their home country, and how music making continues even in these difficult conditions by adapting to circumstances.
In the third video, Kapila Venu, a dancer and actress of the Kutiyattam theatre from Kerala and director of the Natana Kairali Research and Performing Centre for Traditional Arts, talks with Vito Di Bernardi (Sapienza University of Rome) about the performance she had planned for San Giorgio in June, centred on Parvati, wife of the god Shiva. While fully respecting tradition, the actress adds some fascinating contemporary nuances, thus indirectly addressing issues of gender and the female role, which are of great relevance in today’s Indian society.