Ethiopia has a very rich musical culture. In recent years, the music scene has boomed and festivals have sprung up giving more people chances to hear a diverse array of musical genres. Since his move here in 1998 Mario Di Bari has become a well known photographer in Ethiopia. His focus has been photography at musical events and he opened his exhibition titled ‘Ethiopian music legends today’ at the Italian Cultural Institute on Friday June 20th.
Looking at the exhibit gives you a portrait of how music has evolved throughout the times as musicians spanning generations are depicted. “The photographs are of live performances of what I call musical legends, musicians that have been performing in the last 20, 30, 40 years such as Mohamed Ahmed who is a household icon and then Abegaz Kibrework Shiota, Gigi and Teddy Afro,” Mario said.
“I came in 1998 to Ethiopia to work in the Italian school as a teacher but I have always been a photographer at the same time taking photographs of musical events in Italy. At the beginning I didn’t know anything about Ethiopian music, but then I started falling in love with Ethiopian music so I started following the few musical events then,” he said.
He said that when he went to different musical events he usually had his camera with him, at first it was just a habit without having a project in mind.
“But little by little my portfolio of Ethiopian music started to get bigger and bigger. Then I decided to start my own project in Ethiopian music and I am also preparing a book on the same topic,” he stated.
“It is hard to say who my favorite Ethiopian performer is, I can say the first one I fell in love with was Aster Aweke and Alemayhu Eshete, the two are my first loves but then I started listening to Ethiopian jazz, many of the old and new performers of this kind of music I also like,” he said.
Mario will be leaving Ethiopia for good in September and he wanted to finish everything and show the exhibition before it was time for him to leave. The exhibition will last for 12 days and the opening night featured mini performances by different artists such as Grium Mezmur, Abegaz, Munit and Jörg and others.
“I’m leaving for good in September but I will try to come as often as I can for a limited period of time,” Mario said.