On February 1st, Nyttu Chongo, a young musician from Mozambique, along with Jason Finkelman, gave a one-hour wonderful concert of music from Mozambique in the auditorium of the Spurlock Museum.
Written by: Yushan Guo
To perform music from Mozambique, the performers employed lots of traditional musical instruments, such as timbila, djembe, kankubwe, and so on. Each of them has a unique and arresting sound. The stage was designed in a very simple fashion. And there were no dazzling lighting effects, just the two performers playing music. In this way, the audiences would fully indulge themselves in the beauty of the music itself.
After a brief period of greetings and introductions, Nyttu and Jason soon began to perform the first song. Nyttu called this song “Peace”, saying that this is the song that helped him searching for the inner self. The instrument he played was an m'bira, an instrument that looked like a thumb piano and produced a very light and crisp sound that sounded like tiny murmurs of a brook. The instrument that Jason played was kankubwe, a large bow-like instrument that produced a relatively heavier sound. I might not understand the specific cultural values behind this song. However, the two performers worked with each other in such a perfect fashion that the song was not only mentally soothing but also brought everyone in the auditorium to a deeper state of a peaceful mind.
After a short talk between Nyttu and Jason as a short intermission, Nyttu picked up a different instrument. They started to perform a song that was relatively more rhythmic than the last one. As an audience, I have to admit that I have little experience with the world music genre. The kinds of music I listen to the most are progressive rock and progressive metal. However, I was surprised to detect that several common elements exist between this music and the music that I usually listen to. The most obvious one is the use of flexible rhythmic patterns. This truly caught my focused attention. Speaking broadly, it was the free and creative expression of Nyttu’s music that truly captured me.
In the very last part of this concert, Nyttu changed his instrument into a timbila, which looked sort of like a xylophone but was slightly larger. And Jason changed his instrument into a djembe. The last song they performed was quite a rhythmical and upbeat one. The music was very contagious that lots of the audiences could not help nodding their heads, clapping their hands or tapping their feet along with the beat. After Nyttu’s fervid invitation, some audiences went from their seats to the stage and started to dance along with the song. It was beautiful to see that people from different age or ethnic groups were amazed by the energy of the music. Finally, the concert ended in a bright and cheerful atmosphere. Nyttu and Jason worked perfectly to deliver a concert that captured the audiences and brought them into an internal journey to seek the self deep within their minds.
For more information regarding this event or the Spurlock Museum, please visit: https://www.spurlock.illinois.edu/events/event.php?ID=1760