Thursday, November 13, 2008

Meetings With Remarkable Men

 Yesterday, I was paid a visit by my friend David Lewiston (pictured above), once described in an article published in the New York Times as a "musical tourist of the world".

David is perhaps best known for his original, early audio recordings of ethnic world music, being the first person ever to make audio recordings of Balinese gamelan music in 1966. Those recordings were released as phonograph recordings (remember those?) as "Music From the Morning of the World" on the Nonesuch label. This was back in the day when Bali was still far off the beaten tourism track and still quite undeveloped.

Since then, David has travelled to many remote corners of the globe in search of recording opportunities, and has compiled an archive of over 400 hours of audio recordings which include Tibetan Monk Rituals, South & Central American tribal music from Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala & Mexico, Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh in India's West Himalya, Gilgit & Hunza in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province, Darjeeling & Sikkim in the East Himalya, the Republic of Georgia and Morocco.

Besides being an authority of ethno-anthropological musical forms, David is also an outstanding photographer who, along with his recording equipment, always kept a camera close by. His photographs made during those travels are simply stunning and unique glimpses into cultures most of us will never have an opportunity to experience.

David called me a few days ago to ask if I would be willing to provide some assistance in editing a small portfolio of these images to be used in pursuit of a Guggenheim grant which would enable him to digitize and permanently archive his best images for all of posterity to enjoy and learn from. Of course, I jumped at the chance... for the opportunity to both view more of his work and to sit and listen, fascinated, by his wondrous tales of those travels to primitive places.

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