In her native Mauritania (northwest Africa), Dimi Mint Abba is a superstar. She is one of the few home-grown artists to have an album released internationally and is widely regarded as one of the country’s best-loved female griot. The griot occupies a special place in Mauritanian society; much more than a singer or musician as through their songs they act as historian, biographer, social commentator, poet, soothsayer, and storyteller, but are equally adept at singing love-songs and entertaining at social gatherings.
Although the music of neighbouring countries (Mali, Senegal, Algeria and Morocco) are better known outside Africa, the modern and traditional music of Mauritania are unfamiliar. The desert republic is at the crossroads of Africa, and its musical repertoire has been formed over centuries of contact with a wide variety of African and Arabic cultures to produce a passionate, expressive singing style over complex rhythms. In turn it has been a strong influence on the music of other countries: the impassioned singing and hand-clapping has been a powerful influence on flamenco.
Spanish group Radio Tarifa play their last ever UK gig at the BBC Proms after 13 years together. The band was created with a distinctive sound that evolved from Spanish folklore, with gypsy and flamenco influences. Their sound had constantly grown and changed and at the turn of the millennium they proposed a new voyage into Iberian music with diversions to Renaissance and traditional Japanese music, to spectacular acclaim. Radio Tarifa are one of the few Western acts to be invited to play in the Palestine territories – they have performed in Jerusalem and Ramallah.
Radio Tarifa work with musicians from all different walks of life and musical backgrounds, (Flamenco, Jazz, Rock, Arab music, Classical). They use different sounds and timbres, from traditional Mediterranean instruments like the Derbuka, el Ney or the Ud to medieval instruments such as the cromorno and oriental instruments like the Bansuri (Hindu flute). They also use many modern instruments including the electric bass, electric guitar and Hammond organ.
The 2006 BBC Proms season features an eclectic mixt of great music, artists and events, including birthday celebrations for Mozart and Shostakovich, an 80th-birthday concert for Her Majesty The Queen, a day devoted to The Voice and the world premiere of Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 6. Many of the world’s outstanding orchestras make an appearance, including the Berlin Philharmonic with Sir Simon Rattle, the Philadelphia Orchestra with Sir Andrew Davis and Kirov Opera forces with Valery Gergiev joined by the world’s leading soloists, among them Bryn Terfel, Angela Georghiou, Joshua Bell, Evgeny Kissin and Maxim Vengerov.
Each Prom is live on Radio 3 and available to Listen Again for seven days after broadcast at bbc.co.uk/radio3. Online, bbc.co.uk/proms continues to offer the best source of news and up-to-date information about the season.
Dimi Mint Abba, Radio Tarifa
BBC Proms. 10.15pm – c11.45pm
Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AP.
Tickets £9 – £12.50. Available in person from the Royal Albert Hall box office (no booking fee) or via telephone 020 7589 8212 and online at bbc.co.uk/proms (£2.50 booking fee applies). Up to 1,500 promming (standing) places available on the day at £5 each.