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The well known "TENORES DI NEONELI" from Sardinia, Italy at the Institute



The well known

A lecture and concert that will linger in your memory

From Sardinia a traditional complex harmonic style of singing

The Italian Cultural Institute presents the well known "TENORES DI NEONELI" from, Sardinia, Italy.

Tuesday, July 21 2009
6:30 pm Italian Cultural Institute, Toronto - 496 Huron St., Toronto
Free entrance

On their way to the "Mission Folk Music Festival 2009" of Vancouver (July 24-26), from the village of Neoneli in Sardinia, the four remarkable male vocalists of Tenores di Neoneli will visit the Institute to give a lecture-concert accompanied by two expert musicians playing the launeddas, an ancient Sardinian woodwind instrument. Don't miss a great opportunity to learn more about a rare musical tradition accessible mostly to the lucky visitors of the beautiful Sardinia island.

The Tenores di Neoneli will introduce the public to the ancient musical traditions of the large Italian mediterranean island sitting between the "boot" and the eastern shores of Spain. They will give to the pubblic a taste of the "canto a tenore" a traditional complex harmonic style of "a cappella" singing so unique it has been included on Unesco’s World Heritage List. The singing and the ancestral sound of the launeddas will bring you back to the nuraghe eras.
Cantu a tenore
is a style of polyphonic folk singing characteristic of the Barbagia region of the island of Sardinia (Italy), even though some other Sardinian sub-regions bear examples of such tradition. The word tenore, itself, is not to be confused with the word "tenor" as a simple description of vocal register; it refers to the actual style of folk singing and is distinguished from other similar styles called by different names in different places on the island, such as taja in Gallura and concordu in Logudoru (Sassu 1978).
In the Barbagia region on the island of Sardinia, there are two different styles of polyphonic singing: cuncordu, usually a form of sacred music, sung with regular voices, and tenore, usually a form of profane music, marked by the use of overtone singing. A tenore is practised by groups of four male singers each of whom has a distinct role; the oche or boche (pronounced /oke/ or /boke/, "voice") is the solo voice, while the mesu oche or mesu boche ("half voice"), contra ("counter") and bassu ("bass") - listed in descending pitch order - form a chorus (another meaning of tenore).
The bassu sings the same note sung by the oche, and contra a fifth above the bassu. Oche and mesu oche sing in a regular voice, whereas contra and bassu sing with a technique affecting the larynx. The oche sings a poetic text, which can be of epic, historic, satirical, amorous or even protest genre. The chorus consists of nonsense syllables (for example bim-bam-boo). According to popular tradition, mesu oche imitates the sound of wind, while the contra imitates a sheep bleating and the bassu a cow lowing. The solo voice starts a monodic vocal line and is then joined by the others as he indicates to them to join in. The effect is somewhat that of a round except that the points where the other singers join in vary and, thus, the harmonies vary from version to version. The execution differs in details between each of the villages where a tenore is sung to such an extent that the village can be immediately recognized. Although nowadays cucordu and canto a tenore are performed only by men, memories remain of a time where women groups performed as well, following the matriarchal tradition of Sardinia. According to some anthropologists, canto a tenore was performed back in nuraghe civilisation. In 2005, Unesco classed the canto a tenore among intangible world heritage. Some of the most well known groups who perform a tenore, beside Tenores di Neoneli, are the Tenores di Bitti, Tenores de Orosei, Tenores di Oniferi. (from Wikipedia).

This event is partially sponsored by:
grano restaurant
2035 Yonge St.
(416) 440-1986

The Institute wishes to thank Roberto Martella for his kind collaboration

For further information please see: 


Date: Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Time: At 6:30 pm

Organized by : Istituto Italiano di Cultura, 496 Huron St.

In collaboration with : In collaborazione con (terza lingua)

Entrance : With fee


Italian Cultural Institute