Review by Jeff Byers
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Color and melody flowed together through a multimedia presentation of Indian Classical music and dance at the inaugural event for Alif Laila's new album, "I Am A River".
Hosted by the Embassy of Bangladesh in Washinton D.C., the evening's event celebrated not only Laila's new album but the 40th anniversary of Bangladesh-US diplomatic relations. Ambassador Akramul Qader opened with a speech explaining the importance of this event. The fusion of Indian and Western Classical music presented on "I Am A River" was a fitting soundtrack for such a celebration.
The first performance of the night was given by the Dakshina Dance Company. Daniel Phoenix Singh and Natalia Mesa Higuera dazzled the audience with the flowing and thunderous traditional Indian dance. This was followed by an audio-visual presentation of watercolor paintings by Alif matched with music from "I Am A River". Each song on the album represents a different mood, aspect, or stage of life... each flowing into the next as a river flows. The striking watercolors were like visual representations of the music itself.
Touching again on an element of East-West fusion, Alif Laila performed on sitar with classical cellist Alison Bazala Kim. Accompanied by Monir Hossain on tabla, the trio presented something truly original. The bowed cello seemed to be a perfect partner for the dynamic sitar. Each a separate voice singing the same song. The two stringed instruments built up to a riveting composition kept alive and running by precise, energetic rhythms. The final performance - a traditional sitar/tabla duet - was equally as mind-blowing. Alif spun a web of melodies kept firm with the fluid beats of Monir's tabla. The joy and beauty found in their music washed over the audience as evident at the reception after the show. Alif's art and the music of "I Am A River" have shown that whether you are from the east or west, we are all part of the flowing river of life.
Review by Jeff Byers