Raif Hyseni: Albanian Music, Folklore And Tradition Are My Oxygen
Many years in music, a whole legacy of ethnomusical values and numerous collaborations over the years, pushed the famous artist Raif Hyseni to create an album that will remain as a folklore asset in Albanian music.
“The power of music, art and sports are the main pillars of any kind of nation that best, and soonest promote their countries”, says for “Albanian Diaspora” Raif Hyseni. While talking to the musician Hyseni realizes that the dimension of art in Raifi goes beyond music. Part of the album are 28 musicians living in different parts of the world, which makes this project even more unique. The album will be presented today through a meeting in the “Zoom” application and following the conversation, musician Hyseni tells us the reason why this album came right now and many details about it.
Many years of career in music. Why did you think this was the right moment for this album?
First of all, I want to thank you, your collaborators and the newspaper “Albanian Diaspora” for the opportunity you gave me to address all Albanians in the Diaspora and the readers of your newspaper. Thank you! In fact, I had planned to release this album in April but due to Covid -19 I was forced to “wait” thinking that it will get better in the coming months, but everything was reduced, and public participation in large numbers was not allowed. I also had a kind of “pressure” from acquaintances to do it as soon as possible because it lasted too long, which in fact they were very right. For this reason I thought that with one stone I could “kill” many birds. One, let’s forward Covidin-19 as soon as possible and Inshallah never come back, two, even the vaccine came into use, three,
What is inside this album?
In fact, there are many interesting and very specific things, not because I have composed and arranged all the instruments that are 15 in total, but for the fact that in this cd-album participate 28 musicians, 7 ladies, and 21 gentlemen of selected and excellent. The musicians are Albanians from Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia. But there are also great American musicians from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, Arizona, Finland and Turkey. They all play on 24 different instruments, and that this album contains an hour and twenty minutes of “LIVE” music with original instruments, not just a keyboard and computer. I am very grateful to them, and very honored by all the musicians who have participated in this music project that everyone has contributed in different ways. I also want to thank and am very grateful to some well-known and prominent Albanian and American scholars, professors and academics who write constructive critical reviews on my work and cd-album. I want to thank the composer, conductor, professor Mr. Rafet Rudi from Kosovo; academic Vasil S. Tole; Dr. Lisa DeLorenzo – Head of Department of Music Education at Masters at Montclair State University, Montclair, New Jersey, USA; Dr. Jeff Kunkel – Head of the Department of Jazz Studies at Montcalir State University, Montclair, NJ, USA; Dr. Jane Sugraman-Head of the Department of Ethnomusicology at New York City University (CUNY), Associate Professor -conductor Mr. Ismail Mehmeti at bilbut ightright College in Chicago, IL, Professor Mr. Blerim Grubi at the University of Prishtina, and the University of Tetova, as well as the PhD Candidate Professor and composer Afrim Shabani who has written a very deep, wide ANALYSIS not only for this current cd album but also on my activity, work and life. I am very grateful all my life to everyone without distinction. Since these scholars, academics and professors write reviews-reviews in their native languages, I thought that all these reviews-reviews should be translated into different languages so that others can read and listen to Albanian music. So all the reviews have been translated into Albanian, English, German, Italian, Turkish, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish and Japanese. I take this opportunity to thank from the bottom of my heart all these friends of mine who translated into different languages starting with Professor Mr. Shkelqim Beqari, Mr. Lulla Lyla, Mr. Drita Cetaku, z. Rosario Cali, Mr. Salim Memishi, Dr.Yan Cui, Mr. Laura Quiroz, and Mr. Hadi El! I would also like to thank the world-famous photographer Mr. Fadil Berisha who took care of my photos, as well as Mozart Studio who recorded and mixed all the instrumentals.
What did you think about its inauguration, given that the pandemic situation makes activities very difficult?
It’s very true. My wish was for this release of this album to be in normal circumstances, but the reality is something else entirely and must be adapted to the moment, time and circumstances. I thank those who have invented, discovered social media such as Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, etc .. If it were not for these I would not be able to connect directly with my mother, family, friends, colleagues, my people in Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, in the Presevo Valley of Montenegro. Therefore, this activity will be directly on the ZOOM.US platform this Sunday, December 20, 2020 at 21:00 pm local time in Albania. The link with the passcode and identification number is ZOOM.US, Meeting ID: 889 4422 8031 Passcode: 535847. All are welcome.
Do we find Albanian music from all over there?
Of course! Albanian music, folklore and tradition is my oxygen. I can not be alienated, I have a national, social, artistic, intellectual and educational obligation for our national wealth to be enjoyed by others, especially Americans, because I live in America. The power of music, art and sport are the mainstays of any kind of nation that best, and fastest promote their countries. Through the promotion of our music that we have done together with Merita Halili and my orchestra, many Americans have gone and still go to visit the lands where today Albanians live in the Balkans.
Do we have more music from the areas of your origin, or of your wife Merita Halili?
Hahaha… I liked this question the most. We changed positions, I became Tironc from Mitrovica, while Merita became Kosovar from Tirone (a little humor). There are elements, motives, grades from all areas where Albanians live today in the Balkans!
“Tirana Tango”, “American Atmosphere”, “Steve’s Bag”, “Manhattan Dance”, etc., seem like a journey. Was that the goal?
…. The Albanian in Japan, “Kosovo Horseman”, “Vicianum” – is the first name of the city of Vushtrri in Kosovo during the Roman times which is also the oldest city in the Balkans, “American atmosphere”, “Bosphorus Wind” all these compositions are directly related to my personal and professional experience, where the names that have to do mainly with us, ie with the Albanians, have an important place!
How much did you have to work on this album and have other collaborators?
It does not take years to make an album, but for me and Merita, it has been very important and it is, the promotion of our national, artistic, historical, traditional and cultural values. Now that we have managed to place our music in official and academic instances I thought that now it is my turn to do something for myself but without running away from my origin. Since I started until I finished, 50 people have joined, you are the 51st to thank you from the bottom of my heart!
You have been living in America for years, but always preserving traditions and culture, is this album a folklore treasure for the younger generations?
Yes! These are my compositions based on our folklore! For an hour and a half of music contained in this album, there is material for the younger generations, for composers, for all those who want to hear something new, something different. I have treated the accordion in several different styles such as the way of execution, the approach, the play I have done in the orchestra with other musicians. This is the work of 50 people, while I am only one. Therefore all the praise, honors and respect are for all those 50 people, not me who am 1-one, and that makes this album successful.
When the pandemic situation passes, will you come to inaugurate the album in Albania as well?
I will come to Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Presevo with the greatest desire! I want to thank all Albanians around the world, and all humanity! I pray that health, luck, and happiness will be melody, harmony, and rhythm for them and their families throughout life. Thank you so much for this so enjoyable interview. /Diasporashqiptare