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About Fantahun Shewankochew (pictured):

Fantahun Shewankochew is an acoustic krar player, multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger and vocalist with a background in the professional arts community.  A graduate of the Yared School of Music in Addis Ababa, Shewankochew is well experienced in the unique tunings of Ethiopian music. Before moving to Toronto he worked as the coordinator of the Ethiopian National Theatre in Addis Ababa. He has recorded many songs including an album of Ethiopian love songs with the popular young singer Gigi. Shewankochew has performed at Glenn Gould Studio the Music Gallery, Gladstone Hotel and Luminato Festival. 

About Daniel Barnes:

Daniel Barnes has worked with the top echelon of Canadian jazz artists, including Holly Cole, Jane Bunnett, Hilario Duran, Joe Sealy and Molly Johnson. His concert music has been performed and recorded internationally. For 10 years he was a contributing writer and drummer with the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band, and has performed with many groups including Base is Bass, John James, Mothers of Hope, The Bourban Tabernacle Choir, The Drifters and Liberty Silver. Barnes has mastered the complex rhythms of Ethiopian music having toured Europe, the US and Africa throughout the 1990s with Ethiopian singing stars Mahmoud Ahmed and Aster Aweke.

About Andargachew Mesfin:

Andargachew Mesfin is a popular bassist and guitar player with an extensive background in traditional, jazz and contemporary music. Since moving to Toronto, Mesfin has performed for the Ethio TO show at the Music Gallery, Ethiopian Day at Christie Pitts, Royal Ontario Museum, the Gladstone Hotel for the world concert series and many clubs, restaurants and community events.

About Dawit Tesfamariam:

Dawit Tesfamariam is an arranger and keyboardist who honed his skills playing several years in clubs and recording studios in Addis Ababa. He has performed and recorded with many popular Ethiopian artists including Teddy Afro and singer Henok Abebe. He is in demand by many Ethiopian singers for his skills as an arranger, keyboardist and performing artist.

Ethiopia: Classical Variations


This is an exploratory session of Ethiopia’s traditional tunings; ambassel, bati, tezeta and anchi hoy, featuring Fantahun Shewankochew Mekonnen, a master of the krar (six-string, bowl-shaped lyre), percussionist Daniel Barnes, bassist Andargachew Mesfin and keyboardist Dawit Tesfamariam. The repertoire will feature new arrangements of Shewankochew’s traditional songs in Amharic. This is the quartet’s debut at Harbourfront Centre. 
The music of Ethiopia is very diverse. Ethiopia’s music of the highlands uses an essential modal system (pentatonic scale), which is called "qenet." There are four main modes of qenet: tezeta, bati, ambassel and anchihoy. There are three more modes that are essentially the variations of the above four: tezeta minor, bati major and bati minor. Some of Ethiopia’s songs take their names from their qenet. For example, tizita is an Ethiopian song of reminiscence. When Ethiopia’s music is played on traditional instruments, these modes are usually not tempered. This means that the pitches of Ethiopia’s music may change slightly from the Western-tempered tuning system. However, when Ethiopia’s music is played on Western instruments such as pianos and guitars, they are played using the Western-tempered tuning system.

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