Libana Shines 'Through The Darkness' At Upcoming Chatham Concert

By: Debra Lawless

Libana will perform at the Chatham Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse Jan. 19. COURTESY PHOTO

Cambridge-based Ensemble Features Part-time Chatham Resident Allison Coleman

The internationally-renowned world music and dance ensemble Libana will present a concert called “Through the Darkness: Music of Deep Winter, Earth Love, and Healing” on Sunday, Jan. 19 in Chatham.

This concert, scheduled for the dark period of the winter, will be the group’s first since the release of its new sellout CD, its 10th, also called “Through the Darkness.” The concert will highlight the contemplative rounds and chants included on the CD in addition to music from around the globe honoring our connection to the natural world.

“The first half of the concert will feature this cycle of six songs in its entirety, offering a time for reflecting on the gifts of darkness and the return of the light as we move through the winter season,” says Allison Coleman of Libana, a part-time resident of Chatham. “The second half continues the theme of connection to the earth and its cycles, healing and the wish for peace, featuring music from the Republic of Georgia, the Ba’aka people of Central Africa, Finland, Greece, Malaysia, Egypt and Israel.” The first half of the concert will be performed in English; the second half will be in other tongues. Libana will introduce the songs, share stories and context so that listeners can appreciate and better understand what they are hearing.

Coleman’s parents, Bill and Roz Coleman, first came to Chatham in the 1960s. When they retired in the 1990s, they made Chatham their full-time home. Allison Coleman and her wife, Lisa Bosley, now have their own home in Chatham. Bosley is also a member of Libana, which is currently made up of six women. Coleman and Bosley both live and work in Boston during the week.

Coleman grew up singing in school choruses and church choirs—her father was a Methodist minister. In college, “I fell in love with women’s music from the Balkans, through the Yale Slavic Chorus.” She sang in and conducted the chorus for several years. After completing her master's degree in business administration, at Yale, Coleman moved to the Boston area. Coincidentally Libana, then based in Cambridge, was auditioning new members. Coleman joined the group in the fall of 1990; this fall will mark Coleman’s 30th anniversary with the group. Bosley was a “founding mother” of Libana, and attended the first rehearsal over 40 years ago, Coleman says.

Libana, which was formed in 1979, is an “intentional musical community that explores the music and dance of the world’s women,” Coleman says. “We’ve really grown up together, learning and sharing music from many cultures.” The group seeks to share and celebrate both the unique qualities of musical styles as well as those things that are common across cultures.

“Music gives us a window into other worlds and a way of bridging differences, which I think is greatly needed in these divisive times.” She adds that celebrating women was “ahead of its time in the 1970s” and still may be.

Susan Robbins is the group’s founder and artistic director. Other members are Marytha Paffrath, Linda Ugelow and Cheryl Weber. Guest artist Margot Chamberlain will accompany the group on the Celtic harp.

While some of Libana’s songs are sung without accompaniment, the group’s members also play piano and a variety of string instruments ranging from the guitar to instruments you have no doubt never heard of such as the charango (from the Andes mountains), the Middle Eastern Oud, and various Eastern European string instruments. One of the members is a percussionist who plays many types of drums from around the world. The rest of the members join in with small frame drums, rattles and more. Bosley is a clarinetist and will accompany several of the pieces in the upcoming concert.

When it was founded, Libana was inspired by artist Judy Chicago’s exhibit “The Dinner Party.” Libana’s name came from a 10th century Moorish poet, philosopher and musician. The name symbolizes women’s creativity, vision and spirit through time.

Over the past four decades Libana has performed from Maine to California, and across Canada, Bulgaria, Greece, India and Morocco. According to a press release, “Libana believes deeply in the power of song, the rhythm of the drum, and the spirit of dance to connect people across vast cultural difference. Creating a bridge of the heart, their commitment to the artistic expression of the global community has inspired dynamic cross-cultural understanding, profound healing and widespread peacebuilding.”

“Through the Darkness—Music of Deep Winter, Earth-Love and Healing” will be held on Jan. 19 at 4 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Meeting house, 819 Main St. Advance tickets are $15 for general audiences, $12 for seniors and children 12 and under. To buy tickets, go to Brownpapertickets at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4468383 or call the church at 508-945-2075. Tickets at the door are $18 for general audiences, $15 for seniors and children 12 and under. The CD “Through the Darkness” will be available for sale at the concert. For more information, visit libana.com.