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The Lion’s Throne bears witness to the performances that the legendary composer Terry Riley and Italian singer Amelia Cuni did together in the United Kingdom and Italy between 1999 and 2006. Riley, whose remarkable body of work seamlessly integrates a lifetime of devotion to Indian classical music into the western classical tradition, collaborates with Cuni, a singer trained in Dhrupad who, like Riley, experiments with Indian singing in a variety of ways.
In these recordings, Riley plays piano or keyboards and sings with Cuni. Together, they improvise in Hindi, English, and Italian, drawing from their Indian music background as well as from western traditions. They sing on ancient and modern texts, creating a new blend which mirrors their own musical paths.
“I first met Amelia Cuni in Berlin in January, 1997... Amelia came to the concert, bringing a beautiful carpet for me to sit upon to sing the raga section of our program. We soon began talking about collaboration as we shared a background in and devotion to Indian Classical music practice. Amelia had undergone years of training in the Drupad tradition and I had studied the Khayal tradition. Both of us had composed raga-based works and had merged this ancient tradition with our own particular creative work outside the Indian forms.
“We began our collaboration with a commission from Sounds Bazaar, led by UK composer/performer, Francis Silkstone. I wrote a suite of pieces. ‘Tarana In Hindol’, heard on this recording, was the concluding work. Silkstone plays the Baroque violin, Tatty Theo the Baroque cello and Bhavani Shakar the mridangam (South Indian drum). Later on, when I was in Gmünden, Switzerland, Amelia joined me for our first duo rehearsals where we began to work out material together that we performed in a subsequent series of concerts in Montefalco, Udine, and Padua in 2005 and 2006
“I greatly admire Amelia’s artistry. She is one of the most expressive, powerful and deeply emotional voices in contemporary music.” —Terry Riley