Preview: Karmana, Songs of the Roma

Simon Thacker joins Justyna Jablonska and Masha Natanson for a celebration of Roma music

Karmana: Songs of the Roma

Already well known and lauded for his collaborative and cross-cultural work with different musical traditions, virtuoso classical guitarist Simon Thacker's latest venture is the one with most magic and mystery surrounding it. 'Performing anything by means of magic' is how Karmana translates into English and the show is subtitled 'Along the Mystic Road'. In a vivid re-imagining of music and song from the gypsy tradition, Thacker and cellist Justyna Jablonska are joined by one of the finest traditional Roma singers around, Masha Natanson, to present music that is as new as it is ancient in its origins.

'Gypsy music is something that I've been interested in all my life,' says Thacker, adding that it has roots in Rajasthan, so, in a way, also linking to his previous collaboration with Indian musicians. 'It took months of exploration and searching to find Masha,' he says, 'and she is one of Europe's best exponents of the Roma tradition, whether from the Balkans, Romania or further afield. Although she's not a full-blooded gypsy, it is very much part of her ancestry. When she was young, she even ran away from home to live with gypsies. She really has a great story behind her and has been passionate about this music from an early age.'

Natanson's wide repertoire crosses several languages, reflecting the way that the Roma tradition crosses national borders. The deep connection that Thacker also feels about the music comes through in his 'Karmana Suite', which he describes as joyous, immediate and spiritual. In common with his previous two Fringe cross-collaborations, this year's is part of the Made in Scotland showcase.

'It's totally crucial,' he says, 'as it gives backing and exposure so that international promoters can see our work. We're already touring to Poland, so watch this space.'

Summerhall, 12–20 Aug, 9.15pm, £10 (£8).

Karmana, Songs of the Roma

Simon Thacker and Justyna Jablonska Scottish virtuoso guitarist/composer Simon Thacker returns to create a new Romani musical journey in this dazzling world premiere featuring reimagined Gypsy songs and original works inspired by Indian, Balkan and Spanish traditions. With the outstanding Polish cellist Justyna…


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