Founded by Kiya Tabassian and Ziya Tabassian, over the last ten years, Constantinople has been exploring the oral traditions of Mediterranean cultures and the musical manuscripts of the Middle Ages. Based on both musicological research and a desire for musical creation, some of the ensemble's projects embrace the repertoires and practices of several countries of the large territory extending from the Middle East to Mediterranean Europe, and explore music ranging as far as the New World. This hybridization of musical forms, repertoires and practices, which at first appear disparate and remote, has become the company's trademark. The ensemble draws increasingly curious audiences eager to discover what colours and influences their latest
project will combine.
Constantinople is regularly invited to international festivals, where it is acclaimed by the public, music professionals and critics alike. It has performed on many of the world's major stages, including the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence (France), the Festival of World Sacred Music in Fez (Morocco), the Festival d'Ile de France (Paris), the Onassis Centre (Athens), the Festival de México e el Centro Histórico (Mexico), the Festival de Lanaudière (Quebec), and MusicFest Vancouver.
The ensemble frequently collaborates with artists who are renowned not only for their own artistic paths, but also for their ability to incorporate projects from diverse musical cultures. Prominent examples include singers Françoise Atlan, Savina Yannatou, Rosario La Tremendita and Ghada Shbeir, the Greek ensemble En Chordais, the Afghan rubab virtuoso Homayoun Sakhi, and the Corsican polyphonic vocal ensemble Barbara Furtuna. In addition to its tours in France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Greece, Lebanon, Iran, Cyprus, Morocco, Canada and Mexico, each year in Montreal Constantinople presents a season of three to four productions whose impact continues to grow. Most o the group's concerts have been recorded and broadcast by Radio-Canada and the CBC, and some have been relayed to European audiences via the European Broadcasting Union.
Constantinople's Early Dreams project represents both a return to the source and a rebirth for Constantinople. It is the start of a new cycle. The group was born ten years ago around a meeting of the sonorous, musical and cultural worlds of two instruments-the setar and the European lute-the first, monodic and drawing melodic contours around the latter's bass lines and harmonic patterns. This dialogue was complemented by the virtuoso percussion work of Ziya Tabassian and the rich sound of the viola da gamba, which can take on the roles of both bass instrument and solo voice. Since its inception, the ensemble has travelled the world to explore new projects arising out of unique musical encounters between old manuscripts and living musical traditions. Driven by a constant desire to renew itself through creation, the group's projects draw from existing material while leaving room for informed improvisation.
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