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Voices of the Spirit

Voices of the Spirit

The gap between East and West is growing smaller all the time with the help of Asia Society Texas Center. One of 11 locations around the world, Asia Society aims to promote Asian culture and create connections. It should come as no surprise that Houston is the home of one of these prestigious societies, as Houston has always been known for its love for diversity. Located on Southmore Street, it’s right in the heart of the city and boasts a huge contemporary space, complete with a permanent art gallery and balcony.

Asia Society Texas Center teams up with Houston Arts Alliance’s Folklife + Traditional Arts for an annual concert called Voices of the Spirit. This concert showcases the incredible Houston talent found in local faith communities.

The first was a quartet of siblings from the Baptist community, the Cortez Family. This group of talented singers praised the Lord with an impressive range of vocal chords. The family has been singing together for over 20 years and for this particular performance they performed a medley of traditional African American hymns. Zacardi, Erin, Eric, Neesha and Erica perform in several churches all around the Houston area.

Photo courtesy of Asia Society Texas Center (1)The next performance took the audience to a far off part of the world and showcased Jewish customs. Cantor Mutlu enchanted all attending with traditional Jewish songs while accompanied with a piano. His performance was entirely in Hebrew and his haunting voice created a reverent atmosphere in the concert hall. Cantor Mutlu is currently serving as a cantor in Beth Israel’s senior clergy right here in Houston.

Photo courtesy of Asia Society Texas Center (2)Putting the ‘Asian’ in Asia Society, the next group played traditional Hindu music. Chandrakantha and David Courtney are a power couple that have been sharing Indian music in the Houston area for years. They performed alongside Neha Gupta and Masood Raoofi. This performance was particularly interesting as it featured authentic Indian sounds, as all the performers played different Indian instruments while also singing.

The final performance was certainly a show closer. Danza Chinless del Estado de Morelos and Banda Viento Morelense de los Hermanos Campos lit up the stage with Mexican folk dance and song. Adorned in colorful costumes and masks, two groups of 10-15 dancers showcased Mexican culture showing patronage to Our Lady of Guadalupe. This type of dance is usually found in Central or Southern Mexico, but Houston was lucky enough to experience it for a weekend.

Vist asiasociety.org/texas to find out when the next event will be. Each one is designed to expand minds and educate.

Story by Natasha Naik

Photo courtesy of Asia Society Texas Center (3)

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