PRINT December 2005

Music: Best of 2005

Susie Ibarra


1 SHARIFF KABUNSUAN FESTIVAL (COTABATO CITY, MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES) An annual kulintang music and dance festival that celebrates the local introduction of Islam and promotes peace and tolerance among tribes and religions. Each village involved also participates in a Boat Parade, drifting down the Rio Grande waving sumptuous colored flags.

2 LOBOC CHILDREN’S CHOIR WITH MUSICAL DIRECTOR MRS. ALMA FERNANDO-TALDO (LOBOC, BOHOL, PHILIPPINES) This small-town choir, based on an island in the Visayas cluster, was established in 1980. It’s since performed a traditional choral repertoire—including both religious and secular songs—in the Philippines, Shanghai, Hangzho, Hong Kong, and Barcelona. When I attended a rehearsal in January, the choir sang around me in a circle. It was angelic.

3 THE KALANDUYAN FAMILY PERFORMING TRADITIONAL MAGUINDANAON KULINTANG GONG MUSIC (COTABATO CITY, MINDANAO, PHILIPPINES) I’ve been making my own field recordings of music performed by the family of my kulintang teacher, Danongan Kalanduyan, but other documentation is accessible at Each person in the community has his or her own song—about gathering, courting, harvesting, or healing—and their renditions regularly prompt the participation of other community members.

4 CHILDREN’S PIN PEAT GONG ENSEMBLE PERFORMING FOR THE CAMBODIAN KING OF BUDDHIST MONKS (WAT THMEY MONASTERY, THE KILLING FIELDS, SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA) In January, the ensemble performed next to a giant glass shrine containing the bones and skulls of Khmer Rouge victims. A genuinely moving experience.

5 RIZE, ORIGINAL SOUND TRACK (FORSTER BROTHERS ENTERTAINMENT) David LaChapelle’s movie is a compelling documentary about the culture of Krumping and Clowning, dance forms born of struggle in Watts, Los Angeles. Their African origins are clearly visible and the jazzlike improvisational language on display is highly developed. The sound track, full of hip-hop grooves and laidback and driving rhythms, is entrancing.

6 AMADOU & MARIAM, DIMANCHE A BAMAKO (NONESUCH) A great recording by this Malian couple, who met in the local school for the blind. Their musical background is Malian blues, but this record (produced by Mano Chao) is perfect world-beat pop.

7 JOHN ZORN, “NECRONOMICON” (TZADIK) This beautiful piece for string quartet, from Zorn’s album Magick (2004), is one of my absolute favorites, expressing beauty, tension, refinement, chaos, and soul.

8 TANIA LEÓN, MOMENTUM, TUMBAO, AND MISTICA (WATERWORKS PERFORMANCE SERIES, AARON DAVIS HALL, CITY COLLEGE, NEW YORK) Cuban composer and conductor León shared a part of herself through this September’s concert of works in progress for piano, revealing inspirations that include Tito Puente and Celia Cruz, and a heritage melding both African and Spanish cultures.

9 MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY, CAVE OF THE HEART (SUMMERSCAPE, BARD COLLEGE, ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY) With breathtaking set design by Isamu Noguchi and music by Samuel Barber, this July performance represented a powerful collaborative vision.

10 FRED FRITH & CAMEL ZEKRI, GUITAR DUET (NANCY, FRANCE) At an experimental music festival in Nancy in May, Frith and Zekri performed an incredible concert—organic and soulful—that mixed Algerian folk with experimental improvisation.

New York–based percussionist and composer Susie Ibarra performs jazz, avant-garde, and Southeast Asian gong music.