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Sardinian Tenores di Neoneli to Perform at Casa Italiana

Sunday, September 29, 2019 at 11:00 am

The “Tenores di Neoneli” are a group of polyphonic singers from Sardinia (Italy). Founded in the little town of Neoneli in 1976, the group interprets the ancient Sardinian tradition of “a tenore” singing. A tenore singing is performed by groups of four male singers standing next to each other in a circle or semi-circle. Each singer has a distinct pitch and role: the “boghe” is the solo voice (typically singing poetic text or lyrics); the “mesuboghe” is the countertenor, the “contra” is the contralto voice, and the “basciu” is the bass voice. This type of singing is believed to be one of the oldest forms of vocal polyphony. According to Sardinian tradition, the mesuboghe imitates the sound of the wind, the contra the bleating of a sheep, and the basciu the lowing of a cow. In 2005, UNESCO recognized “a tenore” singing as an example of “intangible cultural heritage”. The Tenores di Neoneli are among the most popular, internationally renowned “a tenore” groups. Currently, the four members of the Tenores are founding member Tonino Cau (basciu), Roberto Dessi’ (contra), Ivo Marras (mesuboghe) and Angelo Piras (boghe), son of Peppeloisu Piras, iconic boghe and another founding member of the group. Though deeply rooted in tradition, the Tenores di Neoneli have always been open to experimentation. Over the years, they collaborated with several prominent Italian artists including Elio delle “Storie Tese”, Francesco Guccini, Luciano Ligabue, Francesco Baccini, Angelo Branduardi, la PFM, and Eugenio Finardi. The Tenores di Neoneli traveled extensively around the world, performing in about 40 countries. In the past two years alone they performed in Bulgaria, Croatia, China, France, Greece, India, Ireland, Lapland, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Tunisia. An example of their art can be found here:

The “Tenores” are accompanied by the launeddas of Orlando and Eliseo Mascia. The launeddas (also called “Sardinian triplepipe”) are traditional Sardinian polyphonic instruments consisting of three pipes and used to play a rich and complex style of music by circular breathing. Some consider them to be a Mediterranean ancestor of the bagpipes. The expertise and skills needed to play this instrument are passed down through generations. The Mascias (father and son) are masters of this traditional instrument.

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