Ilaria Lupo: the overseas ensemble

In collaboration with Paed Conca and Sarigama

Ilaria Lupo initiated a collaboration between Paed Conca and Sarigama – a band of non-professional musicians from Sri Lanka who migrated to work in Lebanon. They work by day and rehearse at night – in a basement rented out from an Asian shop in the suburb neighborhood of Jounieh, Beirut, where they set up their studio. During three months of rehearsals, Conca and Sarigama created a demo album that was born from an experimental research on the Sinhala Baila. Baila’s origins can be traced in a merging of Portuguese and African music – a hybrid of western melodic system, and asymmetric and cross-rhythms. It was introduced in Sri Lanka at the colonial period (along with kaffrinha), and developed after the independence, to become an essentially local music – with godfather figures such as Wally Bastainsz and M S Fernando. The album’s rearrangements explore deconstructions of format, rhythm, duration, fusion of genres, connecting with wider processes of blending and their historical roots.

The project’s dynamic questions such processes through the lens of cultural production. Due to a restrictive legal frame, in Lebanon Sri Lankan contemporary forms of music develop in underground circles only. This is part of the liquid geographies of the ‘non-official’ diffusion of culture. The band’s engagement with music research testifies of a process of participation in the local scene – even if an invisible one. It resists legal bans, but also the crystallized forms of cultural representation in the context in which these musicians operate. The project aims to provide it with a space to unfold, exploring new possible configurations.
Conca and Sarigama will perform the overseas ensemble live on the occasion of the album’s launch.