The Living Legacy Of The Past
The pasts that succeed one another could never be prophesied from one another. Nothing is lost, but that which arrives that is novel gives a continually new past. G.H. Mead
In ancient times it was the bards, the tellers of tales who kept alive stories and legends close to the hearts of all people, be they royalty or the common folk. These poets composed verses that praised the deeds of intrepid individuals or sang of earthshaking events, thus maintaining a link to the past for future generations. Monarchs would commission scribes to write down and keep for posterity records that would eventually become our history or the established dogma of religions and ideologies- the accepted versions of stories as we know, embrace and recite them. Yet in the repertoire of bardic tales can be found those stories that have been nearly forgotten, whether purposely or due to changing social attitudes, new and accepted ethical norms or the inevitable transforming of societal structure. Such lesser known epic tales were recited to teach children, advise kings or remind a people of near mythical personalities. How these heroes and personalities overcame obstacles, the manner in which they dealt with difficult circumstances, the regard a community placed on the importance of honor and dignity are at the very epicenter of a people's sense of principles, values and ethics. It is these forgotten stories, tales, myths and legends that we are interested in because they inform us of possible alternate versions of what may have happened long ago. Many of these stories are in themselves a virtual commentary on the human psyche and mindset from the past which in turn informs the present. It is important to study and research these forgotten narratives, just as archeologists, scientists and historians discover new information and finds that reveal something we knew not before. Rediscovering the lost narratives of the past sheds light on what could be the lost truth of any aspect of history or widely held beliefs which we may have been taught to be accepted as fact. This rediscovering process presents fresh insight informing us of the creative imagination of the human mind. The bardic arts are such an expression of the mores and commonly held beliefs of a culture and a people in time.
~Echoes of Antiquity~ presents those nearly lost or forgotten narratives in the ancient classical style of what the ancient Greeks labeled as an epyllion, a shortened version or segment of a tale taken from a longer, popular epic narration cycle. Utilizing recitation, music and acting as would have been performed at the courts of ancient royalty, we endeavor to share with audiences our interpretation of what such a storytelling performance may have been like as well as convey the spirit and essence of the piece and the subject. We focus on those stories from classical civilizations which display an important transition in human society- the tales of those great heroes of the past who have been all but forgotten, the known and lesser known artists and poets who have gone unnoticed for millennia or those spiritual teachers and their wisdom which disappeared over time and in some cases nearly lost, yet nonetheless heavily influencing mainstream popular religion, morality and folk culture. Vibrant thoughts and ideas, having taken root in the fertile soil of the human mind simply will not be silenced, even by those mighty tyrants who used all the power at their disposal to silence them. Likewise, the royalty embraced certain legends and myths to support their right to maintain control. Thus the power of the myth and the epic tale in the form of oral and written literature should not ever be underestimated.
We recite stories and poems from the oral and literary repertoire of the ancient classical and early medieval worlds, and compose modern epic poetry and readings as well as music based on or inspired by archaic sources. Many of the subjects we focus on; the characters, the heroic men and women of legend and their deeds and exploits are indeed familiar to our ears, while many have been heretofore virtually unknown in popular culture. Many of the epics and narratives we present are alternate stories, as it is acknowledged that throughout history many versions of tales have existed just as there exists diverse opinions among all people, then as now. Life and thought is indeed diverse, just as humanity is diverse and the sacred uniqueness of every individual being a reality. It is our hope and desire that through the medium of bardic recitation, through storytelling, music, photography and the creation of video storybooks and reading materials we would share the experience of our findings and research with our audiences, so that they too may be inspired to ponder further the vast realm of the creative, imaginative human mind via an art form that hearkens back countless millennia to the very beginnings of the human experience.
The great scholar G.H. Mead explained it profoundly- every new discovery gives us a continually new past. Thus no story or event is ever really lost but rather lies dormant, waiting to manifest itself once again for us to rediscover so we can learn to improve and hopefully mend our broken world.
Ismail Butera is a musician, storyteller and a student of ancient history, religion and spiritual traditions. His love of ethnic music prompted him to perform as an accordionist among many diverse ethnic communities especially from the Balkans and the Mediterranean. Contact with these communities put him intimately in touch with representatives of their folk traditions- the storytellers, musicians and artisans who maintained a people's cultural identity. Collecting tales, legends, mythologies and stories over the years, Ismail created his life long vision ~Echoes of Antiquity~ so as to present to modern audiences the stories and sagas of long ago, particularly those stories of individuals and events which have been nearly forgotten, thus less represented in the world of popular and literary culture. Ismail recites in an homeric style in English for all to understand. His recitative compositions are colored and spiced with place names, geographical or climatic settings, references to gods and goddesses, heroes, creatures and beings, terminology and sacred names and phrases from the original, native language from the culture or civilization represented. In the style of the bards of old music is used to assist in the telling of a tale, thereby adding a sense of mood and dynamism as well as sparking the imagination and opening the heart center of the listener. Besides the accordion on which he performs and composes utilizing modes and drones in an effort to explore this rather modern instrument's connection to it's ancient predecessor the bagpipe, Ismail plays various long necked lutes such as the Turkish saz, Uzbek dotar, Albanian cifteli, Hindustani bowed esraj and the Central Asian kashgar rebab, as well as a variety of folk flutes and plucked lyres. Performing on these instruments in both traditional and experimental style to accompany the recitations, actors or dancers who play an important part in creating the ambience of the courts of ancient royalty, Ismail endeavors to follow in the footsteps of the renown bards of old. When not composing or performing, Ismail writes articles about the ancient world, viewed through the dual lens of both history and mythology.
Natalia Perlaza has earned a reputation as as multi faceted percussionist performing on dumbek, Persian zarb and various Middle Eastern frame drums such as the bendir, daff and riq. Included in her varied instrumental collection is the didgeridoo and crystal bowls, both very ancient instruments with connections to spiritual practices and rain sticks, shakers and rattles and other percussion instruments. She brings her talent, knowledge and ability to provide steady rhythm patterns for the recitation or to accompany dance, which emanates from the heart center, an important concept in the performance of ancient music. She created Corazon Heart Sound Meditation in which she encourages practitioners to seek harmony through understanding the elements by way of their own heart rhythms. She also teaches astral projection techniques. It is little wonder that Natalia is often sought by performance artists and dancers to collaborate with and accompany them, due to her spiritual sensitivity and the manner in which she manifests this state of being in the performance of her music.