In April and May 2003, thirteen of Madagascar’s most talented musicians were brought together to create and record songs for a CD highlighting the best in Malagasy traditionally-based music. This initiative, called the Vakoka Project (“Tradition” in Malagasy), was an attempt to revive and give value to some of the traditional music forms that have waned in recent years under the pressure of westernized, commercial influences.
The Vakoka Project was initiated and produced by Sean Whittaker with artistic direction by Hanitra Rasoanaivo (leader of the Malagasy group Tarika) and Seta Ramaroson (renowned Malagasy sodina and saxophone player). Over a six-week period, the Project’s thirteen musicians worked in collaboration to compose and record original songs that represent the remarkable, and largely untapped, musical diversity that the island has to offer. The final recording will be released on the international market, with proceeds going to a Madagascar Cultural Archive Project that will develop an audio-visual record of Madagascar’s music and dance traditions.