Venezuelan Afro-Soul ‘Tambor’- a spirit-shaking percussion and voice celebration. The UAE’s Liwa Maritime Ensemble opens with a performance of Emirati cultural heritage.

Betsayda Machado and La Parranda el Clavo take audiences on a cultural musical journey through deep spiritual sounds to highly festive songs from the coast of Venezuela, featuring genres such as Parranda, Tambores de San Millán, Cantos de Sirena, and Tambores de Tarma.

Elevated polyphonic melodies and call and response chants are layered on propulsive traditional drums, naturally sourced from the region including Quitiplás (bamboo hand drums), Culo e’puyas (set of three elongated drums played with hands and sticks), Paila, Cumaco, Furruco, Charrasca, and Maracas.

“With Ms. Machado’s forthright voice answered by her group’s close harmonies and carried by all sorts of percussion — drums large and small, scrapers, shakers, castanets — the group performed songs about saints, dancing, slavery and the hard lives of the cocoa-plantation workers who originally sang parranda. The costumes were brightly patterned; dancers had light, quick steps that barely seemed to touch the stage.” – New York Times

The UAE’s Liwa Maritime Ensemble opens with a performance of Emirati cultural heritage often carried out in occasions such as wedding processions and other celebrations. Liwa was first brought to the Arabian region by East African traders and contains traces of African influence, using instruments such as the Mizmar (a flute-like instrument, with a wide-open mouth) and 3 kinds of drums – the Jabwah, Shindo, and Jasser.

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Betsayda Machado

Betsayda Machado is a prodigious Afro-Venezuelan folk music singer. Raised in the small village of El Clavo in the region of Barlovento, her rural recordings with lifelong friend Parranda El Clavo brought new attention to the Venezuelan Afro-Soul genre: ‘Tambor’. A spirit-shaking percussion and voice fiesta, said to make dancers float.

After her North American debut in 2017, New York Times’ Jon Parelles called Betsayda and Parranda “The kind of group that world-music fans have always been thrilled to discover: vital, accomplished, local, unplugged, deeply rooted”.

La Parranda El Clavo is the local caroling ensemble of El Clavo. For over thirty years they have been playing together during town festivities, funerals, new year celebrations and get-togethers inspired by local anecdotes and stories of belonging. Singer Betsayda Machado started her career singing with them in the late 1980’s.

Betsayda and Parranda have toured extensively throughout North America and Europe. This concert at NYU Abu Dhabi will be their Middle East debut.

Liwa Maritime Ensemble

“Mubarak Al-Otaiba‘a band” (Affiliated with Abu Dhabi Folklore Group) is a group that excels in presenting various forms of folk arts in the United Arab Emirates, including maritime, desert, mountain, and coastal arts. The group performs various folk arts, including: Al-Eyalah Al-Bahriyah, Al-Liwa, Al-Mald, Al-Ahlah, Singing performance, Al-Nahamat Al-Bahriyah, Al-Eyalah Al-Barriyah, and Al-Madayma Art.

They showcase many arts from the UAE, and the group is considered experienced in folk arts, regularly participating in official receptions for the country’s leaders. It is an extension of the National Group, which was established in 1987 and is affiliated with the Ministry of Culture. All members of the group, including founders and participants, belong to the National Group, and the number of dancers in the group exceeds 60. The group has participated in numerous local, international, and Arab festivals, including: Al-Hosn Festival, Sheikh Zayed Festival, Maritime Heritage Festival, Sharjah Heritage Days Festival, National Day Celebrations, participation in the UAE Pavilion at Expo, Taif Festival in Saudi Arabia, Delma Maritime Festival, performance at the Louvre Museum in Paris, Festival in Egypt, performances in Tel Aviv, Korea expo, Hanover expo, Milan expo, and many more.