Speaking in Tongues
Sowah Mensah; Enrique Toussaint; Marc Anderson; Gao Hong
Hosted by composer Abbie Betinis, our popular Courtroom Concerts take place at noon most Thursdays in the Landmark Center in downtown Saint Paul. This series features accomplished musicians and composers from the Twin Cities and surrounding area, as well as occasional musical newcomers to the area. These one-hour concerts are free and open to the public.
About the Artists:
Speaking in Tongues is four astonishing musicians from four different cultures with four native tongues. Their performances worldwide are as diverse as the group itself, They opened a new Chinese music series at the prestigious Muziekgebouw aan het IJ in Amsterdam, performed at a Nobel Peace Prize Conference in America’s heartland, and have performed for enthusiastic audiences on university campuses and in concert halls throughout the U.S. Collaborations have included those with the Indian dance troupe Ragamala (in performances at Ted Mann Concert Hall and the Southern Theatre in Minneapolis); a performance with the St. Paul Civic Orchestra at Landmark Center in St. Paul; and a performance with the traditional Chinese percussion quartet Ba Da Chui and guqin (ancient Chinese zither) master Zhao Jiazhen at The O’Shaughnessy in St. Paul. They have toured China and performed at Walker Art Center and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. A live recording they made of Gao Hong’s Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream toured the U.S. with the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Wild Sound exhibit.
About the Program:
With superb musicianship and an infectious camaraderie, Speaking in Tongues creates an environment that is engaging and exhilarating. The collective sound of the group draws on so many sources that listeners from all walks of life can connect easily. Four outstanding musicians blend music from four different cultures on a stage full of instruments from all over the world. The result – a concert experience that is spellbinding, entertaining, and unprecedented. Speaking in Tongues is master drummer, multi-instrumentalist and composer Sowah Mensah from Ghana, Enrique Toussaint, the virtuoso bassist from Mexico City, Twin Cities master percussionist Marc Anderson, and Gao Hong, one of the world’s foremost performers on the Chinese four-stringed lute, the pipa. When considering the individual voices, one is struck by the truly distinctive quality of this music and the level of skill and musical maturity required to shape it into the spirited and the coherent musical expression that it is. Their music has been described as a West African drum ensemble driving along under the butterfly wings of an Asian melody, the romance of Brazilian jazz orchestrated with Middle Eastern drums, and folk music from a new world. Rich compositions set up by free roaming improvisations lead the listener through open landscapes of gentle rustlings and sparse instrumentation and then, with a subtle turn, plunge them into thick forests populated by percussion and bass.