Music Maker

Sammy playing one of the more than 20 different instruments used in the concert.
Nov. 3, 2011 Text and Photos by Chad Lebo

If people start asking for our children's autographs soon, we will understand. 

As part of a 6 month music project, our children will be recording a music CD. They actually "hit the studio" for the first time yesterday. But they are not alone on the CD. They are being led by the famed Malagasy musician Sammy Andriamalalaharijaona

Sammy is a virtuosic instrumentalist of international renown. Not only can he play all the traditional instruments of Madagascar, he can also make them. As part of the project with Akany Avoko, he has made 10 valiha and 10 kabosy that our children will learn to play. He will also be working with our kids to producing several more valiha and flutes with our kids using our own homegrown bamboo.
If one mentions any well-known Malagasy musician, Sammy can demonstrate their playing style and explain the intricacies of their music. Though he talks quietly and without any suggestion of self-promotion, he is confident that he is the only musician in Madagascar who can truly play all the styles and instruments. "It's a gift," he says. "I can just pick up any instrument and play it. I can play with anyone, jazz musicians, rock musicians, whatever." Asked about the Malagasy guitar virtuoso D'Gary, he instantly took his guitar, re-tuned it, and gave a quick demonstration of D'Gary's style. When someone compared his playing to that of the West African griots, he used his valiha to give a perfect imitation of the kora style of Demba Konte, whom he met in London.
-- from Sing Out magazine 1993, Elijah Wald
The project, generously sponsored by a longtime Dutch supporter Hetty van der Linden, began in October with a kick-off concert from Sammy. And for 6 months, the children will have 2 classes a week wand will focus both vocal and instrumental music. There will be a performance at our public Christmas show as well as a fund raising concert in the city at the end. The music CD is expected to be completed by December, 2011. And do not worry, you will not have to fly over to our gift shop to buy a copy. The CD will be available for purchase and download online.

[Note: all the photos in the post were taken at the opening concert on Oct. 16, 2011 at Akany Avoko.]

There's no reason to play the bongo calmly.
Sammy with a kabosy, Malagasy guitar, he made with his own hands.
Sammy has performed in Europe, the United States, Asia and now Akany Avoko.
Sammy making a public service announcement and reminding the children about the dangers of playing with dynamite. Not really. He is demonstrating and explaining one of his homemade traditional Malagasy instruments.
The band and the children seemed to enjoy themselves equally.

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