NARASIRATO (JIMMY HO'ASIMARANA) - SFINKS 07/2012

Jimmy, Narasirato represents the music from the remote Solomon Islands in the Pacific. Could you start by telling us a little bit about your home country?
Jimmy Ho'asimarana (bass pipes): "Well, the Solomon Islands are located in what is known as the South-Pacific, close to Australia and Papua New Guinea. It's made up of many small islands, but there are nine bigger ones we call provinces. The biggest island is called Malaita and, although we're now an independent state, we're still part of the Commonwealth."

Is the music Narasirato plays common all over the Solomon Islands, or is it something that is typical for your tribe?
Jimmy Ho'asimarana:
"The panpipe music Narasirato plays is unique to the culture of the Are‘are (Traditionally, the Are'are practiced subsistence agriculture of taro, yams, and sweet potatoes, as well as raising pigs and fishing. During colonization they were encouraged to export copra and raise cattle on a small scale. The traditional religion was ancestor worship, but during colonization, Christianity made big inroads, and by the mid-1970s at least half of the population was converted, red.). In our culture, this music and the instruments that go with it have been passed on for generations. This music was traditionally played during big festivities or for certain ceremonies."

The band members of Narasirato are all men. Is playing music a strictly male affair in your culture or do women also participate?
Jimmy Ho'asimarana:
"No, traditionally the panpipes are played by men and women alike. In our culture, playing music is a social occasion that everyone participates in."

A number of island states in the Pacific are facing the threat of global warming, which causes the sea level to rise. Is that something the Solomon Islands are also faced with?
Jimmy Ho'asimarana:
"Absolutely, we've already seen a lot of changes; not only in the rising of the sea level but we've also seen changes in the rain season, for example."

What does the title of your new album, 'Warato'o', refer to?
Jimmy Ho'asimarana:
"Warato'o is a very important word in Are'are culture; it refers to the natural order of things like you would find in nature, for example, where things have been going the same way for centuries."

What are most of your songs about?
Jimmy Ho'asimarana:
"Mostly about the things that surround us; things like the singing of the birds in the trees, or the sound of the waves, but also the problems our islands are facing, things like deforestation or the disappearance of traditional culture."

Does the band name itself, Narasirato, have a meaning as well?
Jimmy Ho'asimarana:
"Yes, of course, in Are'are  "nara-si-rato" means "cry for sunshine"."