Performing once again with Sambasia at the Yerba Buena Garden Neighborhood Fair in San Francisco is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
I love Sambasia’s approach to music, treating it as something that is accessible to all people. As director Maseru Koga said to the crowd, “…this [music] is for everyone.”
This echoes something that Master K would often say to the audience. “Kulintang music is for everyone,” announced into the mic with a warm smile to an open-minded audience entranced by the sound of the gongs from Mindanao. It is this welcoming sentiment that empowered a few audience members (like myself six years ago) to feel like kulintang music is approachable and accessible.
Sambasia has grappled with this issue as an Asian-led Brazilian Samba Ensemble with a multi-cultural lineup based in Japantown of San Francisco. What does it mean for Asians, or any other non-Brazilian people, to undertake the serious study of a traditional music?
According to their website, “SambAsia’s theme of One World Awareness, Building Cultural Bridges was born out of Jimmy Biala’s (SambAsia’s founder) observations of the separation that continues to exist between different areas of San Francisco despite the diversity of our city. We hope to convey a spirit of our own individual cultural pride while expressing the need for more communication and contact with each other as human beings, the acknowledgment of all possibilities.”
I was honored to be invited to attempt to build a cultural bridge from Cotabato to Rio de Janeiro with on-ramps coming from San Francisco. Bringing these two percussive traditions together was both a challenge and a joy, and we showcased the result at the 2010 SF Carnaval parade!
The Yerba Buena Gardens Neighborhood Fair is a great gathering showcasing the diversity of San Francisco. Kulintronica and Sambasia were representing for the Filipino-American contingent, joined also by old friends from Parangal.
In an interesting turn of events, we found it easier to share kulintang, and it was nice to hear my unique hybrid kulintang set in the hands of the Parangal musicians.