Audiences can look forward to highly energetic and danceable beats at Flushing Town Hall’s second Global Mashup series “Hungary Meets Ghana” featuring Hungarian folk band Életfa and Ghanaian Kotoko Brass on Saturday, March 14.
Beloved by world music fans, this is the seventh season for the popular series in which Flushing Town Hall mashes up two cultures on stage with an open dance floor. Each concert features a pre-show dance lesson. Audiences can then enjoy a separate set from two different musical ensembles who then collaborate in a grand finale jam session.
“Our vision for Global Mashups was inspired by this city,” said Ellen Kodadek, Flushing Town Hall’s executive and artistic director. “When you think about New York City, on an everyday basis you have people of all different cultural backgrounds who live together and work together. So we thought that it would be fun to bring artists of different backgrounds together in performance. And it really has been great fun. That’s why we bring the series back each year with a new lineup.”
Inspired by the traditional drum rhythms of Ghana, Kotoko Brass performs a joyful, improvisational style of West African dance music described by The Boston Globe as “propulsive, infectious party music.”
The band was founded by Massachusetts-based brothers Ben Paulding, a performer and scholar of Ghanaian drumming, and Brian Paulding, a longtime trombone player in Boston’s reggae scene. They joined forces with Kwame Ofori and Attah Poku, both master percussionists from Ghana, and rounded out their rhythm and horn sections with M’Talewa Thomas of Antigua on the bass, Yusaku Yoshimura of Japan on keyboard, and Andrew Fogliano of Connecticut on the saxophone.
“At its core, our music is a celebration of tradition, diversity and unity,” the band’s leaders said.
Joining them on stage will be Életfa, the beloved house band of the Hungarian community living in New York and New Jersey. Originally founded in 1987 by the children of Hungarian immigrants, it is now comprised of both Hungarian and first-generation Hungarian-American musicians dedicated to spreading the joy of authentic, Hungarian folk music, song and dance.
From Életfa audiences will experience the familiar sounds of the violin, bass and accordion, as well as discover the traditional folk music sounds of the kontra (a three-stringed Hungarian viola), the gardon (a Hungarian cello) and a woodwind instrument known as the tárogató.
Concert goers are invited to arrive early for a 7:15 p.m. dance lesson before each 8 p.m. concert to learn the traditional steps of the countries presenting music that evening.
“Hungary meets Ghana” concert goers are also invited to attend a 4 p.m. panel discussion led by Society for Ethical Culture leader and historian, Jone Johnson Lewis, that will explore the connections between the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 and New York’s feminist Seneca Falls convention of that same year.
In 2020, Flushing Town Hall will continue to open its doors to teenagers for free. Under the “Teen Access Program,” all 13- to 19-year-old boys and girls (whether a member or not) will be welcomed to attend any performance for free. The program is designed to appeal to students and help foster a greater love in the arts and culture.