Blue Thread Performance Group presents a series of free concerts next week

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From July 13-16, 2022, the duo Blue Thread and guest artists will kick off a week of concerts, installations and outreach programs in northwest Arkansas called All over the map II.

The concerts are free and open to the public. Performances will include:

  • Trillion Series at 4 p.m., Wednesday, July 13, at Crystal Bridges in the Early American Galleries in Bentonville
  • Five & Dime at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, July 14, at the Walton Museum in Bentonville
  • King Opera House at 7 p.m., Friday, July 14, at Van Buren’s King Opera House
  • Mount Sequoyah at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, July 16, at the Mount Sequoyah Dining Hall Patio in Fayetteville

In All over the map IIbased on their 2021 album of the same name, Blue Thread brings together Hindustani and Carnatic classical and folk music traditions and blends them with Portuguese, Sephardic, Celtic and American song traditions, as well as folk ballads.

Over the past 10 years, the duo, consisting of singer Cristi Catt and flautist Nikola Radan, have been conversing and collaborating on a project about the different ways music connects people as it travels.

“Like an organism that reproduces, on land or sea, music adapts and regenerates, finding life in new times, different places. Through music, cultures and languages, people find ground okay,” the two men said.

For each of the programs, Catt and Radan invited special guests and local community members to join the conversation; “this way, a new thread begins.”

For these concerts, Blue Thread has invited singers Daniela Tosic from the Balkans and Priya Ram from India, Indian violinist and percussionist Kartik Balachandran, as well as Santos Ramaswamy and Cody Lucas, a guitarist from the Ozarks.

Catt specializes in medieval music and has built numerous performance and recording projects around Galician-Portuguese Cantigas d’Amigo folk songs. Radan, on the other hand, has long been fascinated by Sephardic ballad traditions that traveled from Spain to various points around the world, as well as the roots of Western musical influences from the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. Along with their special guests, Radan and Catt chart ballads that have traveled from Portugal, India, Greece, the Ozarks and beyond.

The program for each performance includes:

  • Medieval Cantigas d’Amigo
  • Scottish dances and Al-Andalus
  • A set of Carnatic and Hindustani ragas (Jog, Yaman, Sindhu Bhairavi, Bilahari and Madhuvanti Raga)
  • Popular American, Italian, Balkan, Portuguese and Sephardic songs

One of the songs will be Bela Infanta, who opens with a young woman waiting by the sea, and her lover returns in disguise. He then tests his loyalty, and in most versions the two lovers are reunited. In their new album, Blue Thread present a new retelling of this tale that weaves together Portuguese, Sephardic and Ozark ballads with Indian roots.

Another of the songs performed will be a new version of the popular ballad cruel sisters. This version shows traces of his journey through China, Scandinavia, Ireland, Iceland and the United States

Join Blue Thread on a musical journey of global storytelling full of love, nostalgia, suspense, betrayal and, in some cases, murder, that Portugal News from Évora called “vibrant and playful music that transported us to the rich and varied musical experience of medieval times without abandoning the present”.

The blue thread All over the map II the July 2022 concerts are funded by Artists 360, a program of the Mid-America Arts Alliance. Artists 360 is made possible by the philanthropic support of Steuart Walton and Tom Walton through the Walton Family Foundation.

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