Skip to main content

The Nile Project Collective: Aswan CD & U.S. Tour Through Spring 2015

From a media release:

Loving Listening, Subtle Flow: The Nile Project Meshes the River’s Many Sounds, Calls for New River-Based Conversation

• Tour begins January 15, 2015 in Gainesville, FLA, including
• March 19, 2015 New York, NY, Rubenstein Atrium - Lincoln Center,
• March 20, 2104 New York, NY, Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts - Pace University with LiveSounds
For additional dates, check their website


“Music is a language,” exclaims Ethiopian sax player and Nile Project musician Jorga Mesfin, “and in the Nile Project, the conversation is about love.” The love of craft, of place, of the river that connects eleven countries and millions of people.

The passion and affection spring forth via one of the tightest cross-cultural collaborations in history. Forged over weeks of carefully calibrated workshops and participatory composition, the Nile Project Collective members hail from all along the great river, from its sources beyond Lake Victoria to its delta in Egypt.

They have learned each others’ traditions well enough to create substantive music together, work that goes far deeper than mere meet-and-greet jam sessions. An ensemble of a dozen musicians will tour the US in January-May 2015.

To craft this music, Egyptian and Ethiopian artists have mastered each others’ wildly different modal systems. A Burundian bassist has become the foundation within head-spinning Ugandan rhythms. Instruments that parted ways millennia before are reunited and pushed into new tunings, new places. Love songs and lullabies have crossed geography and language barriers to forge new songs and new, close friendships.

Creating together, with the role of lead and soloist rotating among the players, the Collective has crafted emotionally stirring, musically complex pieces that weave together over the course of a concert into one long and shifting composition. This work serves as a rallying point to draw more and more people from more and more places into a meaningful conversation, where love and art intertwine with politics, history, ecology, and commerce.

Yet it all starts with sound, and with listening. “In the end, it is all about learning to listen,” reflects Egyptian singer and Nile Project musician Dina El Wedidi. “I think that is what we all took away from this, whether it is the participants or the audience. Listening is the basis for understanding.”



The Nile Project 2015 US Touring Ensemble

Mohamed Abo Zekry:
Despite his tender years, this oud player has a stunning command of his instrument, as well as an open ear for other forms, skills that got him a recent album deal with Harmonia Mundi.

Alsarah: Based in Brooklyn, this soulful Sudanese singer and ethnomusicologist’s songs have won high praise from roots-music tastemakers like Songlines Magazine.

Michael Bazibu: A member of Uganda’s leading traditional music and dance company, Ndere, for the past 17 years, Bazibu plays several traditional Ugandan stringed and percussion instruments with virtuosic grace.

Hani Bedair: When the biggest stars in the Middle East need daff (hand drum) or riq (traditional tambourine), they call Bedair, whose percussion skills have also earned him a teaching position at several respected Cairo institutions.

Nader El Shaer: Born in the culturally rich town of Port Said, Egypt, El Shaer taught himself accordion and ney, only to fall in love with the tones of the kawala (end-blown cane flute) and its role in Arabic classical music.

Dina El Wedidi: With experience that spans Arabic classical music, edgy theater, and street protest, this young singer has most recently worked with Brazilian heavyweight Gilbert Gil on her debut album.

Meklit Hadero (select appearances only): Co-founder of the Nile Project, this American-based Ethiopian singer frequently digs deep into soul and hip hop, but never loses sight of her roots.

Jorga Mesfin: This self-taught sax player meshes jazz with Ethiopia’s wealth of musical forms and ideas, both as a respected band leader and favorite sideman for greats like Mulatu Astatke.

Kasiva Mutua: Kenyan percussionist and singer Mutua may have learned drumming from her grandmother, but has developed her own knack for powerful Afropop beats. Her expressive playing can tell a story on its own, or keep a band perfectly in the pocket.

Sophie Nzayisenga: The first female master of the Rwandan traditional zither (inanga), Nzayisenga learned at her internationally acclaimed father’s knee before setting out to make the instrument her own.

Dawit Seyoum: Known for his flexibility, Seyoum rocks both the krar and the bass krar, the six-string powerhouse harps at the heart of much of Ethiopia’s music.

Steven Sogo: Burundi’s leading bassist, this multilingual multi-instrumentalist can play anything with strings, including the umiduri, Burundi’s answer to the birembau. Add to that Sogo’s wonderful voice, and it’s easy to see why he was named a World Bank musical ambassador.

Selamnesh Zemane: Hailing from a long line of unique culture bearers in Northern Ethiopia, this young singer has brought her traditions to collaborations with indie darlings like Debo Band and The Ex.

The ensemble flows from a larger collective of musicians—most of whom are young and work across genres—that in turn arose from a long, thoughtful recruitment and collaboration process. The Nile Project strived to include musicians from many different cultural communities along the Nile, while finding a compelling combination of instruments and voice to support and balance one another.

Over the course of two gatherings and a major, five-country African tour, the collective has gained an increasing sense of how to craft joint works, guided by their own interests and by the Collective’s leaders: Nile Project Musical Director Miles Jay, a contrabassist and composer who spent much of the last decade living and working with prominent artists across the Middle East and Africa; and Nile Project executive director Mina Girgis, an Egyptian ethnomusicologist and curator who specializes in creating innovative musical experiences. The exchange of know-how has had significant impact on the participants—bassist Steven Sogo enthuses about his newfound love for Ethiopian modes—and has molded a sound as broad and powerful as the Nile itself.

“The set is a continuous flow, like the river,” explains Jay. “We craft creative transitions from one piece to the next, inspired by the Nile’s soundscapes. So, we end a song and the percussionist continues the pulse, even through the applause. Or all the strings at the end of the song go into a drone, and then we introduce a melody to modulate to the next key.”

Evoking the Nile is not enough, however. Many trans-national music projects stop at the stage, when top performers break out their best for an audience. For The Nile Project, live performance is merely one stop on a long, compelling journey. “Music is the gateway that lets us envision the Nile Basin, its people, its challenges,” explains Girgis. “Yet the concert experience is just the beginning.”

The Nile Project uses music to spark cultural curiosity and engage audiences—particularly university and student audiences—encouraging them to feel connected to the river and to explore new approaches to its large-scale problems. In an evolving series of interlocking programs that spring from the musical experience, the project aims to inspire, educate and empower young people worldwide to become Nile Citizens. These growing circles of participants will contribute to Nile sustainability through their music, leadership, and innovative ideas.

For this reason, nearly every stop on the U.S. tour will be accompanied by a series of workshops and symposia involving the Nile Project participant musicians, complemented by the faculty resources and student interest of each campus. From water issues to women’s roles, from musical discovery to the image of the Nile through history, a wide range of topics tackle the river’s complexity and aim to draw students into active roles. These activities expand the circle of conversation begun by the musicians, to encompass entire academic communities.

The exchange on stage and the long interweaving of voices and ideas that preceded it, however, sets the tone for other interactions, dedicated to matters beyond music. “No matter what topic we’re addressing, the music shows something that we can aspire to,” notes Nile Project Musical Director Miles Jay. “It shows it in subtle terms.”

Select Nile Project Workshop Topics

The Nile Project will offer a variety of workshop themes during its 2015 US Tour, including those below. These programs will serve as catalysts for longer-term engagement with students and faculty beyond the tour ensemble’s musical performances.

1. Musical Collaboration & Water Cooperation
2. Imagining the Nile
3. The Nile & African Identity
4. Civic Engagement and Water Resource Management
5. School Matinee: K-12 student outreach
6. The Role of Musicians in Social Movements
7. Women of the Nile: An Untapped Resource
8. Finding Opportunities in Challenges: Crowdsourcing Solutions for an Environmentally Sustainable Nile Basin
9. Music Master Classes

Comments

What Else Is Hot This Week?

Harlem Stage Digital Event: A Drop Of Midnight October 13 & 15 2020

From a release:Harlem Stage Digital Event:
A Drop Of Midnight
October 13 & 15 2020A two-part conversation with Jason ‘Timbuktu’ Diakité and his creative team around the developmental process of creating his autobiographical theater project, A Drop of Midnight. In this conversation Jason will take us on his journey to becoming one of Sweden’s chart-topping hip-hop artists and a best-selling author. He’ll also share the story of how a mixtape from Brooklyn traveled across the waters to the tiny village of Lund, Sweden and altered the course of his life forever. We will examine the impact of hip hop music and culture on the globe. How has hip-hop united communities of color globally?  How do you translate a personal story into a universal truth? How do you build a creative team? How has the current climate of social justice informed your artistic practice? Jason will read excerpts from the play and share some of the music. October 13—Part IIn this conversation A Drop of Midnight author…

Review: Night of the Kings / La Nuit des Rois by Philippe Lacôte

Review: 
Night of the Kings
La Nuit des Rois
by Philippe LacôteA France, Côte d'Ivoire, Canada and Senegal co-productionNow Playing In The New York Film FestivalImageAfter Venice and the Toronto Film Festival, Philippe Lacôte's Night of the Kings has moved on to conquer New York City. A young pickpocket (Koné Bakary), is incarcerated in the giant La MACA prison, the largest in Côte d’Ivoire. The prison offers a hostile atmosphere, where the guards have long given up keeping order and the prisoners run the show, albeit confined within the prison walls. They dance, sing, and mingle at will in a common area called The Jungle. There is a violent power struggle between Lord Blackbeard (Steve Tientcheu), who runs things, and the younger leaders of other factions. Blackbeard is old and infirm, and he knows he can't hold on forever. But, he does want to hold on long enough to leave on his own terms. Blackbeard designates the newcomer as the new storyteller - the griot - called Roma…

So You Can't Go: Six Ways To Travel Virtually

So You Can't Go:
Six Ways To Travel VirtuallyTravel is limited for most of us in the world these days. For Canadians, it depends on the province you live in, but with the border to the US still closed, and other options limited at best, virtual travel from the couch can provide at least a view with a difference at a time when you may well need it most. Google Cardboard – VR On A BudgetYou don't need a lot of cash to get into travel via virtual reality. Google Cardboard is a line of VR viewers that are, well, made of cardboard, and are priced starting at $12CAD.If you check out this link, you'll find out how to download the software to your smartphone.At this link, you can get yourself an actual Google Cardboard for a hands-free VR experience. Google Cardboard apps offer a variety of ways to experience our beautiful planet, including Google Earth itself, which can take you anywhere, along with apps to view museums and cultural artifacts, and more.Ascape VRAscape has a huge l…

Modern Romanticism | Stanley Grill: And I Paint Stars with Wings (Innova Recordings / February 14, 2020)

Modern Romanticism:
Stanley Grill: And I Paint Stars with Wings
In praise of mysteries
(Innova Recordings / February 14, 2020)Composers: Stanley Grill
Performers: Camerata Philadelphia, Stephen Framil, Brett Douglas, Deubner, Peggy Pei-Ju YuCheck Out The Release On Innova RecordingsAmerican composer Stanley Grill is about to release another album of his work, so I thought I'd catch up on the last one, And I Paint Stars with Wings. 
His work with Camerata Philadelphia and others on the release is melodic and evocative, modern romanticism with achingly sweet harmonies. Grill's goal is to use his music to encourage thoughts of world peace, most obviously evidenced in Pavanne (for a world without war) for string orchestra. It's part of his Music for Peace project, composed, as described by the composer “after having made a decision that my music needed to serve another purpose besides the obvious one of touching the hearts of those who listened to it. However unlikely of success, t…

Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company Spring 2013 Toronto Performances

From a media release:

The new season brings
Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company
to new heights and new audiences

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
April 25-28, 2013 - Annual Toronto Season - World Premiere of Portales

TORONTO : Following on the heels of Esmeralda Enrique Spanish Dance Company's (EESDC) 30th anniversary year where its production Aguas/Waters was named one of the top five dance shows of 2012 by NOW Magazine, the early months of 2013 are full of excitement and possibility for Esmeralda and the company, which brings the finest flamenco and Spanish Classical Dance to Toronto stages.

March 20-24, 2013 - A Night in Madrid
Company dancers Esmeralda Enrique and Paloma Cortés perform Spanish Classical dance with the celebrated Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir for A Night in Madrid featuring the Iberian flavoured music of composer Luigi Boccherini who made his home in Spain. His work is infused with the sounds of Spanish and gypsy folk music.

March 20-24 …