Rogue World Ensemble performs authentic, international folk music. - Photo by Gaelyn Larrick

World folk traditions

It's Rogue World Ensemble's mission to bring international folk songs to Ashland, performing in chorale fashion and, if it's part of the tradition, with dance.

The 30-member ensemble will sing Caribbean, West African, Northern European, Appalachian and British songs, with accompaniment from Nastrave, an Ashland folk-music group, at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, in the Music Recital Hall on the Southern Oregon University campus, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

Under artistic director Cyrise Beatty, the ensemble delivers an experience unlike most chorale concerts.

"We create audience participation in village music in the most authentic way you can in Southern Oregon," says Megan Danforth, the nonprofit ensemble's president.

"With grants from Village Harmony, an umbrella vocal-music organization in Vermont, Rogue World works with professionals brought in from around the world on pronunciation, tonality and authenticity," Danforth says. "So we can showcase it as closely as possible to where it came from."

In March, the ensemble will bring in masters from Ukraine and South Africa.

The ensemble began a couple of years ago and has drawn singers from Selma to California's Siskiyou County, with a waiting list of hopefuls. It has performed at church halls in Ashland and brings sellout crowds of over 300, Danforth says, noting that a CD will be out soon.

The ensemble frequently breaks into smaller groups. One, a trio called Rusalka, will start the show accompanied by Nastrave, a Balkan and klezmer group known for its years playing for the cafe crowd at Ashland's Key of C.

"The experience is unlike most chorale concerts," Danforth says. "It's extremely colorful, not watered down. Singers are having an incredible time, so much fun and joy — and you can see how much fun the audience is having."

The ensemble's style can be compared with noted groups Kitka and Libana.

"The ensemble may feel like a community choir," Danforth says. "But it has a specialized repertory that sets a certain musical standard, a performance edge. We require memorization (of songs) and a push to higher performance quality."

Tickets cost $12 in advance and are available at Heart & Hands in Ashland or www.brownpapertickets.com. Tickets will cost $15 at the door. The ensemble also will perform at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, at Newman Methodist Church in Grants Pass.

Call 541-613-1306 or see www.rogueworldensemble.org.

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