Michael Santoro is no ordinary world music promoter. In the 19 years since the inception of what is now SF World Music (formerly the S.F. World Music Festival) he and his colleagues have pursued a path that has united master musicians, rural villagers, children, social justice leaders and technological pioneers using music as an instrument of peace.
“For me, music is a great bridging factor between different cultures and countries. It’s a great medium for peace,” adds Anuradha (Anu) Sridhar, a South Indian carnatic music master and SF World Music’s music director.
Sridhar’s composition “Moods” is among the pieces in “Music Unplugged,” a concert on Friday at St. Mark’s Church exploring how music is used as propaganda, protest and prayer in the context of war. It’s the opening event of “The War Project,” a year-long series featuring three commissioned world premieres pegged to the theme “a new vision for social justice.”
On Friday, master musicians and young musicians from Azerbaijan, South India, China, Iran, Zimbabwe, Ireland and other locales will share the stage in the concert, which will be streamed.
“We’ve come up with a new model, with camera interaction and use that will make the streamed version a very different show than the live version,” says Santoro, artistic director of the production. “We’ll be cutting in other footage that has been taken overseas, and conducting interviews while the music is happening.”
Those attending the concert, on the other hand, will experience a truly international orchestra performing music from many cultures. For example, “Irish music will be performed by Azeri, Persian, Chinese and South Indians, says Santoro.
Sridhar, who trained the youth orchestra, will appear, in a lineup also featuring Azeri kamancha master Imamyar Hasanov, Chinese erhu master Zhang Xiao Feng, Indian mridangam master Shriram Brahmanandam, Vietnamese dan tranh master Van-Anh Vanessa Vo and Irish Celtic harpist Diana Rowan. Featured master percussionists are Wang Wei from China, Pezhham Akhavass from Iran and Ronnie Daliyo from Zimbabwe.
The production and technical director is Frederic Boulay.
The War Project returns in April, for a global music “Encampment” spectacle at Fort Mason, and culminates in fall 2015 with “The War Zone,” which will stream live from a refugee camp “on the other side of the world,” says Santoro.
Santoro adds, “Our War Project concerts are an outgrowth of everything we’ve ever done. Each year builds on the years before. We always ask how we can challenge ourselves even further, not just musically but also inter-culturally, to use music and technology for social justice.”
IF YOU GO
The War Project: Music Unplugged
Presented by SF World Music
Where: St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 1111 O’Farrell St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Tickets: $15 to $25
Contact: (415) 561-6571, www.sfworldmusic.org, www.brownpapertickets.com