This performance of ANCESTORS with Trys Keturiose is conceptualized by National Sawdust Artist-in-Residence Abraham Brody.
In our modern society, many of us have lost our roots. Knocked off balance by the speed and immediacy of modern technology, we have lost touch with many of the traditions which both ground us and orient us to the rhythms of life. First premiered at the Barbican Centre in London, ‘Ancestors’ draws from both folk music and ancient rituals of Baltic Culture, exploring the connection to Brody’s roots through ritual, gesture, and music. He will be joined by renowned Lithuanian folksinging ensemble Trys Keturiose who perform alongside him ancient polyphonic ‘sutartinės’, which mean in Lithuanian ‘to sound in harmony, to agree’, bringing the performers and the public deeper into the rich Baltic tradition, and a form of meditation in performance. Throughout the performance the artists will perform ancient rituals which are directly related to the music. The rituals and songs are based around themes inherent to Lithuanian culture-the process of Linen works (long considered a magical process), bees and beekeeping, and rituals all connected to the word ‘Teka’, which in Lithuanian represents the flowing of time, the rising of the sun, the flowing of water, and the flowing of a bride to her husband. The music itself reflects the cyclical nature and eternal flow of these rituals. The mythological threads collected here intertwine like the music of the polyphonic songs themselves as if weaving a symbolic message.
Abraham Brody creates unique multidimensional experiences for his audiences. Bringing together music, performance art, and multimedia, he pushes the boundaries between performer and public and challenges the traditional notions of a performer in the 21st century by uniting these three art forms into one cohesive whole. For him, performance is a vehicle to transform himself and his audiences. Drawing inspiration from the roots, rituals, and folklore of diverse backgrounds, he weaves them into performances combining his own compositions, improvisation, and multimedia works.
He has collaborated with renowned performance artist Marina Abramovic, has travelled to far-eastern Siberia in search of shamans, and also creates the bulk of his solo works based on the folklore and music of his Lithuanian roots. He has performed and shown his works in such places as the Barbican Centre London (month-long residency in 2015), The Public Theater New York, Tate Modern, Southbank Centre London, Pace Gallery, Fondation Beyeler Basel, Sziget Festival Budapest, Solyanka VPA Moscow, Vortex Jazz Club London, and Rich Mix London, among others. In his residency at National Sawdust, he presents a diverse mix of some of his collaborative projects from across the globe, as well as creates new solo work in the context of his residency. During his residency, he will also show video and performance works of his at HappyLuckyno1 Gallery in Brooklyn, in partnership with National Sawdust.
Since 1981, the group Trys Keturiose has specialised in performing sutartinės, traditional Lithuanian polyphonic songs. These are distinguished by their numerous use of seconds, entwined voices, accentuated rhythmic patterns and the simultaneous sound of two different texts (verse and refrain). All these qualities demand a specific concord among the performers, the habit of singing together (the word sutartinė is derived form the verb sutarti, ‘to agree, to reach accord’). Nowadays, the tradition of singing sutartinės in rural regions of Lithuania has died out; however, various folk groups in the cities keep up the tradition, including Trys Keturiose. The group continues to develop its own sound, and aims to give a contemporary meaning to old songs, collaborating with composers, electronic musicians and video artists, and presents interdisciplinary art projects. The leader of Trys Keturiose is Daiva Vyčinienė, an ethnomusicologist, professor, and head of the Department of Ethnic Music at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. The ensemble have performed all over the world, most notably at the Barbican Centre in London, World Expo in Milan, Szezcin Philharmonic Hall in Poland, Tokyo Japan, among others.