Grigore Leşe and the Resurgence of Tradition Romanian folklore

Grigore Leşe and the Resurgence of Tradition Romanian folklore

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Date: 15/01/2015 - 16/02/2015
Time: 7:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Location: Institutul Cultural Român

Songs and Textures: Grigore Leşe and the Resurgence of Tradition

Evening dedicated to our spectacular folk tradition, thankfully still alive in a world of urban sprawl and rampant technology.

Our special guest is Romania’s most beloved bard, Grigore Leşe, the musician who in an act of pure cultural archaeology, and almost alone, resurrected the immemorial songbook of the Romanian village.

The event, celebrating Romania’s National Culture Day, is also dedicated to a defining component of traditional life. Made famous by Matisse and a global fashion item by the hippie generation, the Romanian blouse has not seized to be source of inspiration for contemporary fashion designers as proved by the “Măiastra – The Untold Story of the Romanian Blouse”, the exhibition that takes one through centuries of craftsmanship and chromatic imagination.

[pull_quote_center]What is singing? Singing is a necessity. If man doesn’t sing, he dies. It is a grace, it is a transcendental custom, it is a chance from God[/pull_quote_center] – Grigore Leşe

Grigore Leşe is the most famous Romanian folk singer and also an ethnologist and professor. He was instrumental in preserving and bringing into wide circulation some of the oldest and partially forgotten musical traditions of rural Romania.

His vast repertoire consists of old songs from Transylvania, which form a part of the ancient rites and rituals of the Romanian peasant. A graduate of the “Gheorghe Dima” Music Academy in Cluj-Napoca, Grigore Leşe is a Professor at the University of Bucharest.

As media personality, instantly recognisable by his black and white traditional costume, he has tirelessly campaigned for the preservation of genuine Romanian folklore and way of life. His singing trademark is “horea din grumaz” or “singing from the throat”, a rare vocal technique used by the old village singers.

“Măiastra – The Untold Story of the Romanian Blouse” is an exhibition that focuses on the Romanian Blouse (“IA”) as a symbol of Romanian identity and showcases a selection of old blouses presented as an art installation. Worn in celebrations, ceremonies or for everyday use, the Romanian blouse was considered a sacred garment which accompanied women throughout their life.

Nowadays, IA is still part of the collective memory and is now increasingly present in everyday fashion and patrimonial discourses. The installation of blouses is accompanied by famous archive photographs of Queen Marie of Romania dressed in traditional Romanian costume, as well as a selection of objects and fashion designs inspired by the Romanian blouse patterns and symbols, designed by contemporary artists representing brands like Ziurel, Furga Murga, UnacaLuna, RONATIV, The Craft Lab, Iutta and Lana.

The exhibition is a collaborative project of GALATECA Gallery of Contemporary Art and Design in Bucharest inspired by La Blouse Roumaine community, organised in partnership with Romanian Cultural Institute and Horniman Museum in London.

  • When: Thursday, 15 January, 7pm. The exhibition will continue until 16 February, Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm.
  • Where: The Romanian Cultural Institute, 1 Belgrave Square, London SW1X8PH