Making Tracks, Norwich Arts Centre review: ‘An ever-shifting kaleidoscope of sound’

Making Tracks. Picture: Supplied by Norwich Arts Centre

Making Tracks. Picture: Supplied by Norwich Arts Centre - Credit: Supplied by Norwich Arts Centre

International sounds filled the Arts Centre, mingling and blending in new and refreshing forms in a unique, multicultural concert.

The performers were eight young musicians from different countries brought together by Making Tracks.

Since 2010 this project has brought world-class and diverse music from all corners of the globe to venues throughout the UK.

Relaunching this year a new model aims to give a platform and opportunities for collaboration to emerging artists.

The Arts Centre stage was packed with instruments for the eight performers: Louise Bichan from Orkney, Rapasa Otieno from Kenya, Barbora Xu from the Czech Republic, Melisa Yildirim from Turkey, Luna Silva from France, Kaviraj Singh, a British classical Indian musician, Katariin Raska from Estonia and Arsen Petrosyan from Armenia.

The musical spectrum was even broader than the above list suggests as many musicians played multiple instruments and some represented several nationalities.

As the daughter of an English actress and Spanish clown French-born Luna played percussion and ukulele and sang in three languages.

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Czech born Barbora now lives in Finland and has spent time in Taiwan and played traditional Finnish and Chinese string instruments.

Melisa opened the concert with mesmerising rhythms on the kamancha, a Turkish spiked fiddle. She was soon joined by Katariin on mouth harp, a small metal instrument whose twanging sounds resonated with incredible volume.

This set the pattern for the evening with musicians showcasing their countries' music in solo performances and collaborating in a variety of combinations creating an ever shifting kaleidoscope of sound.

The musicians only met last month on a residency in north Wales but sounded as if they had been playing together all their lives.

The performance included pieces the musicians had written together on the residency drawing inspiration from the sights and sounds of their rural surroundings and bringing in influences from their cultural backgrounds.

One piece combined the sound of birdsong in the area with Armenian folk music and an English folk tale.

It featured Louise on violin, Barbora on strings and vocals, Luna on vocals and percussion, Arsen on a flute like instrument called a duduk and Katariin adding in a few more instruments for good measure.

Each performance brought in new sounds, instruments and styles delivering as much talent and variety as a full world music festival.

Kaviraj has family roots in Kenya and found a strong connection with Raska.

With the Indian santoor which has nearly 100 strings and the nyatiti, a Kenyan harp-like instrument the pair created an orchestra of strings playing enchanting melodies.

Raska and Luna teamed up singing back and forth across the stage over a bouncing rhythm on nyatiti and ukulele.

Half way through they switched to percussion, hammering out tribal beats.

They transmitted their energy to the audience when they came dancing and chanting to the front of the stage. We knew it was time to join in and did so with gusto.

The concert closed fittingly with a full ensemble piece.

Strings, percussion and wind instruments blended beautifully with multinational voices harmonising.

As the group took what seemed to be their final bow they were joined by their director Merlyn Driver. Linking arms the diverse group, united by their passion for music, began to sing.

It was a touching finish to an inspirational night fusing sounds from around the globe.

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