Fanfare Ciocārlia, one of the world's greatest Roma (Gypsy) brass bands, brings their relentless energy and ingenuity to Town Hall for an exclusive and first-time collaboration with Eugene Hütz, front man for the wild and popular band Gogol Bordello.
Fanfare Ciocārlia is a large brass ensemble from Northeastern Romania whose eastern funk groove has electrified halls and festivals across the planet. Their energy and ingenuity have won them fans from Melbourne to Memphis, Tokyo to Toulouse. Having learned their craft at the feet of their fathers and grandfathers Fanfare's members proudly approach every concert as a challenge to both entertain audiences and keep the spirit of Roma music alive. The artists span several generations and continue to play weddings and other celebrations in their region. In Romanian, Fanfare means brass bandand Ciocarlia means lark, the name of a signature Romanian tune imitating the bird. In Eastern Europe, Roma are the professional backbone of village music, but still face huge prejudice and discrimination in everyday life.
Eugene Hütz was just a scrawny 13-year-old punk rocker when his family fled Kiev in 1986 to escape fallout from the Chernobyl meltdown. Thus began a five-year odyssey that took him to live with his grandmother's Roma clan; to American-run camps for asylum seekers in Poland, Austria, and Italy; and finally, to Burlington, Vermont, where the family resettled and Hütz promptly formed a punk band. But his new destiny really took shape after he relocated to New York City and merged punk and Gypsy sounds into a raucous act he named Gogol Bordello. Six albums later, Hütz packs venues worldwide and thrills fans with his boundless energy.
This program is an exclusive collaboration on a weekend celebrating Roma music, which continues on Sunday April 24 with Esma Redzepova and Folk Masters at Le Poisson Rouge. Esma is internationally acclaimed as the “Queen of Roma Songs” and is one of NPR’s “50 Great Voices.” Born in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, she began her professional career at the age of thirteen. She was the first Balkan performer to make Roma music popular with non-Roma audiences on elite concert stages in the early 1960’s. In addition to her stage work, Esma is a world-renowned humanitarian and has been a major contributor to countless advocacy and assistance programs for women and underserved populations, including the disabled and Roma refugees. In the past thirty years she has fostered forty-nine children and educated them in music and career development. In 2013 she was proclaimed a National Artist of Macedonia.
Esma’s performance is co-sponsored by Voice of Roma (an NGO that promotes the rich cultural heritage of Roma and works to heighten awareness of the dire human rights issues faced by Roma), the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, and the Initiative for Romani Music at New York Univeristy.