As the world has evolved into a global village due to amazing technological developments, so has our consciousness also grown of a turning point in the history of mankind. We realize neither our actions or beliefs stand alone; they’re embedded in our cultural and social conditions.
For the first time in history, mankind is able to perceive this process on a global level. This new world view can provide more unity for all humans, eliminating separating values such as culture, nationality or race. Impending global crises require us to act together, without regard to the fictitious barriers imposed by group identity. We need to speak with one voice. What better language than music to express this unity?
We deeply believe the universality of music will contribute to the awakening of consciousness and this is what ASKANYI is trying to convey.
ASKANYI is creating music which expresses the essence of a new global community; music which carries us beyond the frozen concept of uniformity, music in which African and Western traditions communicate respectfully. It’s an ensemble composed by a string quartet and 4 singers with African roots trying to reflect the diversity of our contemporary society. ASKANYI speaks about universal questions of our existence with harmony and passion, with an energy that is both fierce and serene. We invite listeners to be open to new experiences while looking beyond themselves.
ASKANYI is also the result of a musical quest for balance and common grounds between two seemingly very different musical cultures. ZIKR in D minor was the first song in which a particular harmony and unity was achieved. When Sebastien Paz Ceroni heard the original theme for the first time, he was struck by the resemblance between the African melody and classical Baroque music. Exploring this idea with Jupiter Diop, they discovered a new musical dimension in which both genres are still audible, although the result is something completely unprecedented.
In Senegal ZIKR is related to a ceremony that is held by the Baye Fall Muslim brotherhood. This spiritual movement is characterized by a vision of life in which work, tolerance and humility take a central place. The term “ZIKR” means celebration, revelation and ritual, which is also the underlying theme of ASKANYI’s repertoire. All songs, whether there’re from Senegal, Congo Brazzaville or Burundi, examine philosophical and spiritual questions that humanity has always been seeking answers to. For this reason the ensemble has been called ASKANYI, meaning “peoples” in Wolof, Senegal’s official language.
There is a clear conceptual relationship between the musical and thematic aspect of ASKANYI. On one hand the common ground of both African and Western music has served as cornerstone for the arrangements. On the other hand the songs have been chosen for the universality of their themes. Furthermore, the configuration of the band symbolises the meeting between 2 strong archetypes: the string quartet as representation of the classical ensemble and the 4 voices as the emblematical musical expression of Africa.
In this way ASKANYI acts as a messenger of a new integrated vision that connects our contemporary society with the multiple traditions which she’s made of.