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BaliSpirit Festival Finale: Celebration and Commitment to Life!

The BaliSpirit Festival 2010 ended after a magnificent musical finale at 12:38 am on Monday morning, April 5! Yes, this is a historic moment, so I have
recorded it for posterity!

The raingods toyed with the festivalgoers on Sunday evening, with a light drizzle and dark cloud cover for almost two hours. Fortunately, the rains stopped
after sunset and the stars and moon peeped out later!

A number of Indonesian bands were featured on the final evening, including traditional ensembles such as Genjek Karangasem; contemporary jazz and funk
by Mr Dance and the Jazz Legacy; acoustic rock and soul by D’Cinnamons; and a superb masked dance performance by Didi Nini Thowok!

Congratulatory remarks were presented on behalf of the Bali governor, and the Indian Council of Cultural Relations was also present.

The sing-along harmonies of D’Cinnamons were hugely popular among the local youth in the audience, and the superb solo by their violinist drew a standing
ovation. During an earlier interview with the group I had picked up a review copy of their CD “Good Morning” – I look forward to hearing it even more
now!

The texture changed with the next world music band, led by Sylvia van Swieten, a multilingual singer and percussionist based in Holland. She is a superb
collaborator, and brought on a string of artistes to join her on stage: ranging from Juni (Bali) and Shakina Ma (US) to Indonesian guitarist Riwin
and the legendary Mamadou Diabate and Afro Moses!

She described the kora and saperewa sounds of the African musicians as “sounds of angels.” In previous concerts she has also performed with Zoumana Dianna.
At the Bali festival she sang a pretty duet with Afro Moses, and the audience joined in the lilting chorus of “Irakuende.”

In an interview that morning, Sylvia told me that she was born in Surabaya to an Indonesian mother and Dutch father, and has embraced the music of Africa
as well.

Mali kora maestro Mamadou Diabate, a Grammy Award winner, then took the stage; he had also performed on the second day to a standing ovation, and his set
this time was stellar again. He would begin some pieces by laying down layers of swaying rhythm, and for other pieces he would begin with a rapid-fire
melodic riff. The audience was enraptured, and the melodies clearly consumed Mamadou as well – he would sometimes shiver and shake after each piece!

Then came the headliner of the festival: award-winning singer/songwriter Afro Moses! He packed the stage with a dozen musicians and dancers, and led them
like a virtuoso. Afro Moses skilfully engaged the audience in each song, right from the opening tracks “I was born to sing” and “Home sweet home” to
the rousing Bob Marley classics “One Love” and “Get Up Stand Up.”

Local percussion troupe Hamanah opened for Afro Moses with a terrific round of solos headed by the charismatic Chatur Widodo. Nigerian drummer Victor Akpokodje
was brilliant as well, especially in the concluding jams with soca and soukous rhythms.

Afro Moses and Chatur

Afro Moses, with Chatur

In his interview with me just after his morning soundcheck, Afro Moses had told me that he is optimistic about the future of our planet and for Africa
– and this enthusiasm seemed to be reflected and amplified by the audience as well.

One by one, artistes from the other bands joined Afro Moses on stage, along with festival organisers, for the grand final jam! The female vocalists really
shone in the final choruses, and a string of instrumental solos concluded the festival.

Many in the audience left with tears in the eyes, but also a big smile – knowing that this fabulous festival will be back next year! See you all in 2011!!!

Written by : Madanmohan Rao

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