CEDAR RAPIDS — Legion Arts’ annual Landfall Festival of World Music, which traditionally brings up to a dozen international ensembles to Eastern Iowa, is taking a different tack this year.
Three performing groups, with members from Panama to India, will presents concerts Wednesday (9/12) through Saturday (9/15) in various Cedar Rapids locations. Admission is free, with a suggested $5 donation.
The smaller scale is both an economic and thematic decision.
“We’re operating with reduced funding this year,” executive artistic director F. John Herbert said via email.
Still, the festival is “highlighting three extraordinary artists,” he added.
“In the three regions these artists represent — Central America, Kurdistan and Ukraine — people are struggling with complicated questions of borders, independence, and cultural identity. The music of these artists reflects those struggles,” Herbert said.
Making Movies, a Kansas City quartet featuring two brothers from Panama and two brothers of Mexican descent, uses the slogan, “We are all immigrants.”
Aynur, an award-winning singer from Turkey, sees her music as combining folkloric, religious and political elements.
Lemon Bucket Orkestra, an international party band based in Toronto, has created “Counting Sheep,” an elaborate, immersive rock opera that the band has performed in Canada, the United States and Europe.
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“It’s an amazing production,” Herbert said, “that moves the audience around the theater and gets them singing Balkan rock ‘n’ roll, and traditional choral polyphony, as it tells the story of the Ukrainian revolution of 2013.”
While Lemon Bucket’s Saturday performance will be simpler than the theatrical version, it promises to deliver political insights with a party spirit.
Making Movies (Panama/Mexico): 6:30 to 8 p.m., Cedar Rapids Public Library, 450 Fifth Ave. SE. With brothers from Panama and two of Mexican heritage, this Kansas City-based band blends pulsing Afro-Latino rhythms, psychedelic jams and rock ’n’ roll swagger into live performances full of theatrics and cathartic climaxes. The foursome showcases its Latin American roots, with frontman Enrique Chi incorporating traditional instruments like the Panamanian mejorana alongside electric guitar, or the Chaurand brothers swapping drums and percussion for a dueling zapateado huasteco, a traditional form of dance from Veracruz. Free; $5 suggested donation.
Making Movies (Panama/Mexico): 7 p.m., CSPS Hall, 1103 Third St. SE, $5 donation.
Aynur (Kurdistan/Turkey): 8 p.m., CSPS Hall, 1103 Third St. SE, $5 donation. One of the best-known musicians in Turkey, and a recognized representative of the Kurdish people, Aynur has achieved international acclaim. Inspired by old folk songs, her performances reflect the life and suffering of the Kurdish people, and Kurdish women in particular. Musically, she blends traditional melodies, hundreds of years old, with contemporary Western music, interpreting the traditional repertoire in a modern way. One of her collaborators, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, has proclaimed: “To hear Aynur’s voice is to hear the transformation of all the layers of human joy and suffering into one sound. It reaches so deep into our soul, tears into our hearts, that for one moment we are joined as one. It is unforgettable.”
Making Movies (Panama/Mexico), Akash Gururaja and Nanjundamurthy Venkatasubbu (India/United States), and Lemon Bucket Orkestra (Canada/Ukraine): 1 to 5 p.m., NewBo City Market, 1100 Third St. SE. Audiences around the world have hailed Lemon Bucket Orkestra as folk music revolutionaries. Since its inception six years ago, the band has grown from its initial quartet of buskers to a 12-piece guerrilla folk force employing accordion, clarinet, horns and violins, as well as sopilka and other ethnic instruments.