>>>selected press reviews
The Indian press about Amelia Cuni’s DHRUPAD music:
... 'Her performance is so amazing that I would like to believe that Signora Cuni is a reincarnated pandita from a bygone age', says Kamalakar Sontakke, chief executive of the Nehru Centre ...
Times of India, Bombay, 1st Feb 1995
... perfect diction in Hindi and Sanskrit poetry and an amazing command over the contemplative character of Dhrupad music. Her music is also admirable for her voice delivery and the use of Gamak techniques ...
Navbharat Times (Hindi Daily, Bombay) Feb 12th, 1995
... remarkable for her chaste diction and her delicate handling of the poetry in the complex rhythmic patterns which dominate Dhrupad singing. Her command over the Gamak techniques is astounding. She won wholehearted applause for some very complex Tihayis ...
Maharashtra Times (Marathi Daily, Bombay) Feb 19th, 1995
... It is time to acknowledge the hard work and appreciate the sheer enjoyment the artist feels for her art which she shares with an audience which is Indian and all agape at her mastery ...
'Amelia Cuni-dhrupad vocalist, take a bow'
The Afternnon Despatch and Courier, Feb 2nd, 1995
... Amelia is perhaps the first (foreign) vocalist to have ventured on the performing platform in this city...In point of both manner and matter, she gave unimpeachable evidence of long and arduous shagirdi (studentship) with some of our acknowledged dhrupadiyas ...
... excellend use of meends and tihayis and a variety of rhythmic bols ...
... the raga visualization was streamlined and accurate ...
Mohan Nadkarni, The Times of India, Bombay March 17th, 1994
U.K. tour with Terry Riley and Sounds Bazaar:
... Amelia Cuni´s own 'Danza d´Amore' (is) a beguiling marriage of medieval Italian poetry with mystic Indian traditions, given in tandem with the premiere of her 'Venga alla Danza'. This is 'crossover' at its most fruitful, in which irregular dance rhythms come tumbling out against the nasal yet dusky singing of the Italian-born Cuni, whose voice makes a good case for reincarnation.
John Allison, The Times, 15/10/99
... Even more striking - indeed, for me, the most remarkable work in the programme - was Amelia Cuni's performance of her own 'Danza d'Amore'...Since its spiritual content is so very close to Indian mysticism, Cuni has here truly created a musical bridge between East and West.
The second half of the evening was dedicated to Terry Riley's latest work, 'Morning River' (commissioned by the Norfolk and Norwich Festival). This composition is entirely devised for Silkstone's group `Sounds Bazaar´, with Silkstone effortlessly switching from violin to sitar, but the emotional weight is entirely carried by Amelia Cuni's voice (singing Hindi and English words). Particularly in the work's section, 'What the river said', Terry Riley showed remarkable mastery both of his raga material and the fascinating instrumental combination.
Hugh Vickers, The Independent, 29/10/99
DANZA D'AMORE CD reviews:
... A remarkable and distinctive synthesis of Indian and Italian mystical and musical traditions ... Her pitch is laser-precise, her enunciation exquisite, and her delight in the rich Italian vowel sonorities is palpable. DANZA D´AMORE is a treasure-trove of surprise fulfillment, reflecting the imaginative conception of a marvelously accomplished musician.
Charles Rankie, RhythmMusic, U.S.A., November 1998
Imagine, if you will, a woman with a hauntingly beautiful voice, singing Italian lyrics in a classical Indian style. The voice belongs to the amazing Amelia Cuni who was raised in Italy then travelled to India to learn the dhrupad method of giving voice to a song. This is one of the most soulful, inspirational types of singing. ... The arrangements of flutes, tablas, violin, bass, sitar and percussion support her voice with a marriage of Indian and Early European instrumentals. Elegant, delicious and satisfying, with or without translation.
News on Recent Releases by Dan Liss (from Internet)
About the performance of DANZA D'AMORE:
... chiudere gli occhi e lasciarsi portare dalle limpide vocalizzazioni della Cuni e dalle ritmiche cadenzate e leggere del suo cantoinfonde un fortissimo senso di armonia.Altrettanto affascinante la performance di Nuria Sala Grau...figura misteriosa e ascetica, la danzatrice accompagna il canto 'disegnandone' il racconto.
... closing the eyes and letting oneself being carried away by Cuni's smooth vocalizations and nimble rhythms, comunicates a wonderful sense of harmony. Also Nuria Sala Grau's performance was as fascinating. With her mysterious and ascetic figure, the dancer accompanies the singing making the text visible.
Federica Sassara, Il Gazzettino del Friuli, 8/7/1997
... radical, unexpected and yet very elegant ...
Waltraud Schwabe, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 7/12/1999
About her DHRUPAD CD recording:
... It is Indian music, ethnic music as Bach is ethnic, concentrated beauty which does not make any concession nor takes shortcuts. An uplifting language, still far away but brought closer by that sweet sounding, familiar voice, an embassy of civilization.
Giordano Montecchi, l'Unità, 30/8/1999
... Amelia Cuni is one of the very few Westerners to have mastered the complexities of Indian vocal music...It is all more remarkable that she sings dhrupad, a style which is usually the exclusive province of men....Cuni is an excellent performer who explores the subtle nuances of each raga in extended alap sections and metered compositions. Her acute rythmic control and fine sense of intonation lead to many inspired, beautiful and surprising musical moments ...
Gerry Farrell, Songlines, winter 2001
The German national press about the multimedia performance
ASHTAYAMA-Song of Hours:
Amelia Cuni, Master of Indian Dhrupad singing
... During the unfolding of the eight song suite, Amelia Cuni moves through her choreography from the hands and fingers postures of Indian classical dance to body movements of modern dance. Yet, this travel from Orient to Occident never becomes kitsch ... Enclosed by the cloth square, she can transform her singing into meditation, intimate communication with herself ...
Waltraud Schwab, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 7/12/1999
The sun rises over the tones:
The performance 'Ashtayama' at the Mediatheatre - Centre for Arts and Media Technology (ZKM) in Karlsruhe pays a magic homage to India. In this show, singing and images merge into poetic visions.
This production ... is definitely one of the most noteworthy performances ever seen at the Medientheater . ... Many types of mixing for one evening, which has made an impression precisely because of its careful, well judged coordination of the various components...Rituals of a theatre full of atmosphere that, apart from its original function, has the power to fascinate and carry us ''beyond the opposites''.
Rolf Fath, Badische Neueste Nachrichten, Karlsruhe, 29/1/2000
Festival Altstadtherbst in Düsseldorf:
Ashtayama by Amelia Cuni and Werner Durand thrilled the audience in the Tanzhaus Düsseldorf with Song of Hours. An impressive sound performance with a fascinating voice in a superlatively conceived multimedia setting."
Bernd Schuknecht, Rheinische Post, 27/9/2002
Reviews of ASHTAYAMA at the 10th OTHER MINDS FESTIVAL, S.Francisco:
Call it other-dimensional: The 10th edition of the Other Minds Festival is determinedly eclectic and international.
... A clear, and typically multicultural, highlight was a captivating conceptual setting of Indian dhrupad vocalizing by Italian Amelia Cuni, in collusion with electronic manipulation by Werner Durand and elaborate projections by Uli Sigg...Cuni was the sole live performer in the "Ashtayama ˜ Song of Hours," alternately sensual, bold and contemplative. The hourlong work, in its U.S. premiere, combined her intense and measured singing with swirling electronic effects. She became part dancer and performance artist, surrounded by a translucent circular screen on which Sigg's projections conveyed the elements ˜water, fire, weather˜ and abstractions...
Josef Woodard, The Los Angeles Times, March 9 2004
... The foundation (of the multimedia performance) was Cuni's 10-year study of Indian Dhrupad singing. Durand's layering of Cuni's material, over which she continued to add live realizations, made for stunning effects, augmented by the singer-dancer's own graceful movements and Sigg's alarmingly beautiful visuals. This work had more possible endings than the most recent Lord of the Rings movie, in its eight "Yamas," from "sunrise" to "deep night," and only the returning image of a light sphere (after fiery images of cremation and explosions, which elicited gasps from the audience) signaled visually, if not musically, a ternary closure ...
Marc Alburger, www.sfcv.org
… A more felicitous if romantic engagement with “other music” occurred during the festival`s superb Friday night, which represented, along with with performances by Joan Jeanrenaud and the phenomenally gifted German accordeonist Stefan Hussong, the US premiere of Amelia Cuni and Werner Durand`s Ashtayama. Cuni is one of only a handful of Western women to seriously study Dhrupad, an austere style of classical North Indian music; whatever the technical specs of her vocal control, she sounds like a master to me, but with a vulnerability that undercuts the machismo that is mastery`s trap. For Ashtayama, she and Durand, a minimalist who makes instruments from plexiglass and PVC, created a high-concept multimedia “Song of Hours” that follows the diurnal cycle of raga from sunrise to night. Moving with hieratic precision inside a cylindrical scrim enlived with projections by Uli Sigg, Cuni performed eight songs as Durand responded, in real time, with various loops and drones built from untreated samples of Cuni`s wine-dark voice. At times, these layers of voice and image began to flutter like rose petals in the winds of time, and without budging from his seat, this reviewer simply left the hall …
Erik Davies, The WIRE Issue 243, May 2004
... the piece was at once ancient and contemporary, contemplative and energizing
Cathryn Hrudicka, MUSICWORKS, Fall 2004 # 90
About the CD ’ASHTAYAMA-SONG OF HOURS’:
... traditional and modern ideals find a balance in fascinating soundscapes: advanced World Music without any bad compromise.
Udo Andris, Badische Zeitung, 15/12/1999
... L´importanza di ASHTAYAMA ... è nella sua assoluta modernità, nel suo farsi gioco superbo di relazioni tra linguaggio arcaico-ancestrale (quello dei raga) e libera improvvisazione ... Ben riuscito equilibrio tra tradizione e sperimentazione, tra ricerca e disciplina ... Alla fine, al di la delle non meno importanti relazioni teoriche, per chi ascolta il risultato è piuttosto quello di un incantevole disegno sonoro ...
... the importance of ASHTAYAMA ... lays in its absolute modernity, in its superb interplay between an archaic language (the raga music) and free improvisation ... Successful balance between tradition and experimentation, research and discipline ... Finally, beyond any important theoretical relationship, for the listener the result is an enchanting sound picture ...
Gino Dal Soler, Blow up, December 1999
... what awaited me was nothing short of sheer surprise and pure delight. The combination of Amelia Cuni's powerful voice-completely faithful to its dhrupad training-and Werner Durand's musical diversity, full of twists and turns of a truely unexpected kind, have resulted in one of the most invigorating collaborations in recent memory ...
Jameela Siddiqi, Songlines Winter 2000/Spring 2001
Italian singer Amelia Cuni has a voice like a drink of mountain stream water....
Always at the centre lies Cuni's exquisite phrasing, delicate but determined, informed by prolonged and deep study of one of the world's great vocal traditions.
This is not music that borrows a few Indian flavours, but a serious attempt to make something new and expressive from within Indian art music. ...
If Ashtayama 's effect is dreamlike, it's a dream in which every scene is clearly lit and the shadows have sharp edges.
Clive Bell, The Wire, April 2001
About the CD ’APSARAS’ in collaboration with Alio Die:
... Apsaras is breathtakingly beautiful, combining soothing electronic textures, drones, and organic sound samples from Alio Die (Stefano Musso) with the amazing North Indian dhrupad singing of Amelia Cuni ... Often (she) hits a perfect note and holds it seemingly endlessly, like a moment of perfect beauty in your life you wish you could remember forever - and do.
Dave Aftandilian, review from Ink19.com
...Amelia Cuni's style of Indian dhrupad singing is not derivative, or an amateur attempt at this style, but instead a wonderful contribution that seems to come from the source of the dhrupad art itself... Amelia Cuni's smooth and fluid voice paired with Alio Die's resonant and cavernous ambiences makes for a wonderful sonic trek into the dark of a thunderous and stormy night. This collaboration between is truly gifted and the dense minimal ambiences so compliment the excellent microtonal vocalize... Certainly, this reviewer has no choice but to make this excellent work an AMG Pick!
Matt Borghi, a review from www.mp3.com
JOHN CAGE's SONG BOOKS COMPLETE at the Bielefeld Theatre:
... with Amelia Cuni, specialist for Dhrupad singing and Indian dance, there was a high calibre performer who represented both art forms in one person ...
Stefan Drees, Positionen Nr. 84
John Cage: SOLO for VOICE 58 from SONG BOOKS (1970):
Il risultato, tanto meditato quanto raffinato, è un originalissimo distillato di emozioni, governate dalla presenza ravvicinata e senza veli della voce di Amelia Cuni, limpida e flessuosa come il giunco (...) Un incontro fra Cage e l'Oriente che pochi forse avrebbero immaginato così suadente, diretto, eterodosso comunque lo si guardi, da New York o da New Delhi.
Giordano Montecchi, il giornale della musica, Sept. 2008
Cage meant the performer to evoke the spirit of Indian music but Cuni brings matters full circuit by realizing the piece as one intimately versed in the tradition’s techniques and microtonal inflections. Cage provides a microtonal skeleton and Cuni manipulates the minuscule micro-divisions between notes wit an innate ease that Western performers can take as a measure for the future. The result is a profoundly authentic, Apollonian beauty.
GRAMOPHONE, July 2008
The Other Minds CD presents vocalist Amelia Cuni's fascinating interpretation of John Cage's microtonal Ragas. (...) Cuni and her collaborators ... are absolutely up to the task. The singer brings an intriguingly diverse cultural and musical background to this project of mixed Italian and German heritage ... indeed, each piece presents new melodies in vastly different registers, requiring inventiveness and prowess from the vocalist. (...) She has been performing the work for six years, and this riveting recording is a testament to her dedication.
Marc Medwin, Signal to Noise, June 2008
Im klassischen Dhrupad-Gesang hat (Amelia Cuni) es zu einer Virtuosität gebracht, dass sie selbst in Indien respektiert wird. (…) Eingebettet in ein feingliedriges Klangdesign aus Elektronik und Perkussion trägt Cuni die Melodien mit expressivem Gestus vor. Ihre Stimme setzt so einfühlsam ein, dass sie die feinsten Stimungsregungen der Ragas zum Ausdruck bringt.
Christoph Wagner in Jazzthetik, June 2008
The melodic modulations and the use of rhythm come together in the vision of Amelia Cuni, great interpreter, with dance, gestures, body and hand movements and facial expressions contextualizing the whole and giving the music a scenic dimention without jeopardizing it. The voice is accompanied by percussion and electronics, which become protagonists too in their own right, especially when like last night, they are realized by as exceptionally rare virtuosi as Ray Kaczynski, Federico Sanesi and Werner Durand. A discovery, so to speak, another aspect of the multiple and fascinating world of John Cage.
EL PAÍS - Cultura, April 2006
But Cuni's singing is what should make her a sensation in various new, world, experimental and alternative music scenes. She is essentially an Indian vocalist with Italian flair, theatricality and technique. This is a new kind of hybrid singing, and it is stunning. (...) Hers is a huge array of vocal effects impressively disciplined. The ragas were not quite of India, not quite of Thoreau's Concord or anyplace else. They seemed more from an Asian subcontinent that is everywhere. (...) An excellent CD document of Cuni's performance of "18 Microtonal Ragas" has just been released on Other Minds Records.
Mark Swed in Los Angeles Times November 2007
A singer and composer living in Berlin, Cuni is a rarity — a Western woman who has spent a decade in India studying North Indian dhrupad singing and kathak dance. She is that uncommon artist who is equally comfortable in the oft-discomforting realms of contemporary multimedia musical collaboration and in the traditional world of Indian raga. (...) When I listened to the CD in the relative comfort of my own home, I was tempted to drop all program notes, close my eyes, and trance out. Such is the all-encompassing nature of Cuni’s realization. (...) A traditional review has no place here. Get the CD. Read first, then listen. There’s nothing like it.
Jason Serinus in San Francisco Classical Voice, November 2007