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The Gravikord at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

African Instruments and the Americas
The Gravikord on Display at the Met
Curator Ken Moore with Bob Grawi

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Pip Klein
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The Gravikord, a new electric double folk-harp created by Bob Grawi, of Florida, NY, will be featured in an exhibition of African musical instruments alongside their American adaptations called "Enduring Rhythms: African Musical Instruments and the Americas." The show runs from October 3, 1996 through August 3, 1997 and highlights more than 80 instruments that reflect the resilience of the African-American heritage and trace its impact on the musical culture of the Americas. The 24-string Gravikord is the modern American offspring of the traditional 21-string Senegalese Kora (harp-lute) on display next to it. "Enduring Rhythms," located on the first floor in the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, includes instruments that date from the 16th century through the present. Focusing on their inherent beauty and functional design, the exhibit reveals a 400-year transformation of instrument construction, use, and musical style.

A free recorded audio tour accompanying "Enduring Rhythms" is narrated by jazz pianist and music educator Billy Taylor. It offers music of selected instruments, including "Piccadilly" on the Gravikord. In addition, the entire tour tape is framed by "Jungle Walk," an original Grawi composition. Recordings from various artists, including The Gravikord Ensemble, will be available for purchase at the exhibit site.

According to The Metropolitan Museum, the collection has string, wind and percussion instruments made of wood, palm fiber, bamboo, metal, clay, hide and ivory, as well as 20th-century materials like plastic and glass. They range from a four-foot-long, cow-shaped "Nekpokpo," a log slit drum from Zaire, to Broadway star Savion Glover's tap dance shoes.

"Enduring Rhythms is the Metropolitan's first African diaspora exhibition and the Museum's first exhibition to recognize the African contribution to American music," says Ken Moore, Associate Curator of the Musical Instruments Department. " It provides us with the perfect opportunity to showcase some of our non-Western instruments from the Museum's encyclopedic collection of approximately 5,000 instruments, one of the largest and best known in the world. The story of African-American musical instruments touches upon issues of cultural transformation, identity, and the retention and continuity of values and practices. It is this resulting hybridization of style and instruments that continues today and enriches musical traditions worldwide."

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum will present related programs, films and tours including:

Bob Grawi, Gravikord - Pip Klein, Flute
Friday evening, January 31, 1997, at 6PM

Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Uris Center Auditorium
Free with Museum Admission - No tickets or reservations necessary

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