World music Grammy winner Bela Fleck brings his banjo to collaborate with Marcus Roberts’ jazz trio. Sarod master Amjad Ali Khan comes from India to join tabla player Zakir Hussain and dancer Vijaylakshmi to share music and dance of the Indian subcontinent. Fiery classical violinist Catherine Leonard comes from Ireland to join Italian virtuoso Lorenza Borrani to explore Beethoven violin sonatas. Award winning folk and country songwriter Tim O’Brien brings his creative style to share the stage with innovative bluegrassers The Infamous Stringdusters. Master of New Orleans rhythm and blues Allen Toussaint will be there. The Flatlanders come from Texas. Guitarist John Piazzarelli and singer Jessica Molaskey add their original interpretations of the music of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin. They — and dozens more musicians from classical, jazz, world, and Americana music — are headed to Savannah from 24 March through 9 April, for the Savannah Music Festival.
Great as that selection is on its own, it is no random gathering, either. As a port city, Savannah has been a crossroads and a meeting place for cultures, and hence, for music, since its founding in the eighteenth century. Each year, festival organizers consider strands of music that reflect the city’s diverse history and lively present day atmosphere, too. They extend the music through education programs and residencies in area schools, as well, and through what has become over the years a world renown competition for high school jazz bands, which includes a performance along Savannah’s river front. In another tip of the hat to the city’s past, many of the concerts take place in historic venues, among them the Telfair Academy and Christ Church.
The Savannah Music Festival online site has details of the seventeen day long schedule of day and evening concerts, talks, and other events, and if you can’t make it to Savannah, or aren’t able to take in all the shows you’d like while you are there, highlights of some events will be offered on line as well.
[Flickr photo by Bruce Tuten]