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Efisio Contini, Pierro Contu, Sandro Friedrich, and Peter Beck, form ACANTO, a Swiss and Italian quartet with multicultural roots. The discovery of their similar musical backgrounds was the basis for beginning the group in 1987.
ACANTO is active in the national and international folk and festival scenes (winners of "kleiner Prix Walo" 1989). With their diverse instrumentation and their ability to blend the sounds of many string and wind instruments, ACANTO manages to create many atmospheres in their original compositions. The instrumentation includes guitars, bouzouki, bass, mandolin, balalaika; wind instruments such as okarina, quena, and flutes of many styles from all over the world; various percussion instruments are also included. Meanwhile ACANTO is working on their fourth CD production together (the last was produced by Swiss national radio DRS). All four musicians can also be heard as guest musicians on over ten other productions.
Efisio Contini studied singing at the Conservatory of Cagliari and is self-taught on many different string instruments. For many years he concentrated mostly on early music, and through his parallel involvement with folk, rock, and other music styles he finally found his entrance into original composition. He also performs with Dodo Hug.
Piero Contu played for 15 years in the same rock band as Efisio. Both come from Cagliari, Sardinia. Besides being a virtouso bassist and guitarist (folk and classical), Piero also sings and plays a variety of percussion instruments.
Sandro Friedrich is responsible for the group s "ethno" touch. He also began with an involvement in early music, and for over fifteen years he has been working with flutes and folk music from many different cultures. What started as recorders and a traverse flute has meanwhile grown into a collection of over 100 wind instruments from all over the world. Different studio jobs (e.g. with Andreas Vollenweider) accompany his work with ACANTO.
Peter Beck is a new addition as percussionist (darbukka, djembe, congas, bongos, drum kit) since 1994. His musical spectrum reaches from complex east European and turkish beats through Arab and Cuban rythms to African percussion. He has studied with Burhan Oecal, Willy Kotoun, John Otis, Satala Mane, etc. His concert performances have included appearances with Hansueli Hausherr, Demetrio Prota, Xenos, HICAZ, and Said Trad. He has also given workshops and performed as a studio musician.
All four musicians compose, lyricise and arrange their own pieces. Based on their shared roots in folk, rock, ethno and early music, ACANTO builds an original world of sound whi~ crosses many ethnic borders. Traditional Italian tunes and a capella harmonies enrich ACANTO's musical spectrum. In their lyrics one finds remnants of fables and legends from Sardinia creating atmospheres for the reflections of every day life. ACANTO's music falls somewhere between Jethro Tull and folk, with Branduardiesque aesthetics and widespread cultural influences. The result is a rich and colourful tapestry of sounds which stands on its own.