Ritmata transcends genres at Taranaki International Arts Festival

Alan Drummond


Ritmata really brought the international to the Taranaki International Arts Festival.

With hints of Oriental music, dashings of Latin American, bursts of Indian and Middle Eastern and a series of head-bopping Brazilian beats, Ritmata captured a world of sound.

The four-piece musical ensemble transcended genres and tied together sounds from across the globe and throughout the eras.

Classical guitar maestro Simon Thacker was a hit with the crowd and took his audience on a tour of music dating back to the 13th Century.

The masterful player used his guitar in ways seldom heard in New Zealand and peppered the performance with humour and history.

The concert was at times surprising and the textured music drew the audience in and whisked them away to places long forgotten, capturing the "hopes, beliefs and suspicions of the time", as Thacker so eloquently put it.

He was joined onstage by three of Europe's leading jazz and world music performers; Paul Harrison on piano, Mario Caribe on bass, and Stu Brown on drums.

Each musician was equally entertaining and truly captured both the light and the darkness of their instruments.

The group exemplified what Taranaki has come to expect of the festival's artistic director, Drew James.

In Ritmata he had unearthed a rare gem and brought them to New Zealand for the first time.

Thacker remarked that Ritmata's performance in New Plymouth was the first time anyone had danced at any one of his concerts, ever.

Many toe-tappers in the audience found that hard to believe, knowing Thacker would have a sea of dancers if he were to play at Womad, the Taranaki Art Festival's Trust other outstanding event.

The ensemble was a perfect act to have on the last day of the arts festival.

It reminded those who were sad about the festival's end that just around the corner is the next explosion of talent - Womad, an event where Ritmata would be perfectly at home.

 - Stuff

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