Qwanqwa brings its improvisational Ethiopian music again to D.C.



At 17, California native Kaethe Hostetter moved east to start her musical profession. She went solely so far as Boston, however that turned out to be simply the primary cease on her journey. Finally, the violinist arrived in Addis Ababa, the place she based Qwanqwa, an improvisational group by which she’s joined by a shifting lineup of Ethiopian musicians. The quintet performs Nov. 14 on the Hill Middle, six weeks after a mesmerizing present throughout city at Bossa.

Hostetter grew up with many sorts of music, together with that of Madagascar (the place her father recorded a number of albums of native sounds) and Morocco (the longtime dwelling of American composer and novelist Paul Bowles, whose musical property was dealt with by her mom). But Ethiopian music was a revelation to her when she joined Boston’s Ethiojazz-rooted Debo Band round 2006.

The East African model grabbed her due to “the actually distinctive groove, after which the virtuosity of the lead devices,” Hostetter mentioned in a current telephone interview.

The violinist moved to Ethiopia in 2009 and based Qwanqwa (whose title is Amharic for “language”) a number of years later. The group has recorded three albums that weave the sound of Hostetter’s five-string violin with such conventional string devices because the masinko (performed by Endris Hassen) and the bass krar (Anteneh “Bubu” Teklemariam), in addition to a hand drum, the kebero (Misale Legesse). However the present lineup showcases Selamnesh Zemene, a dynamic feminine vocalist.

“I used to be consciously not going to have a singer, for some time,” famous Hostetter of her unique plan. “I used to be actually specializing in highlighting the instrumentalists. A variety of occasions in Ethiopia, the main focus is on singers, and every little thing else is simply accompaniment.”

“However ultimately, we needed so as to add a singer,” she added.

Partly underwritten by a MacArthur Basis grant, Qwanqwa’s U.S. tour marks the band’s first exhibits on this aspect of the Atlantic. The opposite musicians have been shocked by the nation’s dimension, Hostetter mentioned, however haven’t struggled to attach with American listeners. As a result of they’ve performed beforehand in Europe, “they know the best way to export their music.”

This tour was initially scheduled to occur in 2020, and Hostetter traveled to the U.S. in preparation simply as covid quarantines had been interrupting worldwide journey. The trek was postponed, and Hostetter settled again in Santa Cruz, her hometown, the place she’s concerned in a number of musical tasks.

In the end, the violinist determined to not return to Addis Ababa completely. However she intends to proceed with Qwanqwa, for which she’s already planning a 2024 U.S. tour. And she’s going to most likely at all times be impressed by Ethiopia: “It’s a spot the place music is at all times taking place.”

Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. on the Hill Middle, 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. hillcenterdc.org. $18.

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