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world music

While web-surfing, Nancy discovered the web site of the Clarion Music Center, a small shop in San Francisco which sells a wide variety of eclectic “world music” instruments. Clarion also hosts a weekly musical event in a small concert hall under the store. In March and April, Nancy and I attended several of these concerts.

Nancy plays the flute, so she was especially interested in the performance of Mindia Devi, who played the Indian bamboo flute known as a bansuri. She played traditional Indian meditation music called “ragas”, accompanied by a percussionist and a sitar (which makes a very interesting droning twang).


Mindia Devi also played a few pieces on a Balinese instrument whose name I don’t remember. It was very ornately carved, and was played sort of like a xylophone. The music reminded me strongly of the soundtrack from the Mel Gibson / Sigourney Weaver movie, “The Year of Living Dangerously”, which was set in Indonesia.


On a different evening, we saw a performance of “experimental” musical instruments, made by Bay area instrument makers. I couldn’t even begin to describe most of the instruments or their sound :-) Most noteworthy was a group called “Burnt Earth”, all of whose instruments are made of ceramics! There were clay drums (with normal drumskins, of course), clay flutes, even a clay violin with a clay bow!

The most recent event we attended at Clarion was a performance by Danny Heines and Irina Mikhailova. Danny is an amazing guitarist, whose playing leaves me in awe like when I saw Michael Hedges in concert at Stanford a few years ago. It was so cool to be able to see such a virtuoso guitar-player up close (from the front row! :-) Irina sings folksongs from Russia and other Eastern European countries. They made a great combination. Clarion is a fun venue to go to — right in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown.

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