Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cantamás sings Monteverdi

My song group Cantamás is rehearsing for our upcoming Monteverdi concerts (see dates on the side -->). This year is special because we are celebrating our 10-year anniversary! It was in the summer of ´99 that me and Joakim (second from left) got to know each other, singing Spanish Golden Age music in Provence. We got the idea of taking the renassiance music to a smaller, and purely male, format. The group started out as a trio, grew to a quartet in 2003, and is now often employing Gunilla, Joakim´s spouse, as an added acoustic dimension. For this project we also have Madeleine, so that we can cover Monteverdi´s works for six voices. On basso continuo we have a solid line-up with Gunnar Englund, organ, Janne Johansson, arch lute and Björn Carlsson, cello.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Napo river

From EcuadorOriente

A few hours into the jungle, the Cotopaxi has long since disappeared from the horizon, but it´s presence can still be seen. It is a source of the mighty Napo river that serpents through the rainforest on it´s way to Peru, eventually flowing into the Amazon.

Here, on either sides of the river lies the small indigenous village of Ahuano, where I spent two nights.

The tranquility of the village is contrasted by a feverish bird and insect activity at night. Together with the rushing waters of the river, they form a compact acoustic background. Walking in the forest, I was struck by how dark it is on the ground level. The tall trees steal the light high above our heads, but not without a price. Parasitic plants are in turn strangling the trees, and may leave the top part of a tree dead while the lower part continues to live. Other species cover their host completely, and eventually the original tree rots away, becoming a hollow space inside.

According to our guide Telmo, this particular region had been almost entirely cleared of animal life by the local people. However, the hunting of wild animals is not practiced anymore, and hopefully sometime in the future they will once again have monkeys, tapirs and cats there.

One of the amusements offered by the hotel was a ride on a raft tied together by the group itself. On the raft, we glided downstream, enjoying a rare lo-tech moment. Telmo told us about sailing several days downstream, where anacondas sunbathe on floating logs and uncontacted indian tribes retreat deeper to avoid an encounter with civilization.

At one point during our walks, we came very close to a group of tucans, where the male was singing to mark his territory. No matter how hard we tried we never managed to see them, but they were in the foliage in front of us... very near.

I also ate live ants, that tasted acid and could provide enough protein to sustain you for several days.

Oriental Ecuador turned out to be very intriguing.