Dr. Timothy Rice

Timothy RiceI am honored to have been elected the third president of the Center for World Music. Next year I will celebrate my fiftieth year as a student of world music. I entered the University of Washington as a graduate student in ethnomusicology in the fall of 1968. It’s hard to believe, but the Center for World Music, founded in 1963, has an even longer history in this area of study than I do. In fact, one of its first teachers, the distinguished bharatanatyam dancer Balasaraswati was my teacher of South Indian singing while I was a graduate student. During those early years, I very much admired the activism of Robert E. Brown, a real pioneer in the study of world music: he invented the phrase “world music” as an antidote to the ungainly word ethnomusicology. Both he and my Ph.D. supervisor, Robert Garfias, had studied together at UCLA. I never dreamed that I might someday follow in his footsteps.

His footsteps and my work with the CWM will take me down a somewhat different path than I have followed until now. My path has been one of academic research, publication, service to university and scholarly organizations, and the education of the next generations of world-music scholars. Robert E. Brown and the Center for World Music have followed a no-less-important path sometimes labeled “applied ethnomusicology.” Over the years the Center for World Music has developed important programs that serve a wider audience than academics usually do. The Center sponsors programs in four broad areas: (1) K-12 music education; (2) concerts for a general-interest audience; (3) engagement with and service to ethnic and other adult communities; and (4) adult study abroad summer programs.

Currently, the Center’s K-12 music education program is particularly strong. I can’t express the delight and pride I felt recently at a K-8 school as I listened to each grade play the Balinese gamelan, a wonderful gong orchestra from Indonesia. Watching their smiles as they performed and listening to the progress they made from grade to grade confirmed for me the importance of the community-service-oriented path of the CWM’s mission. I look forward during the next few years to strengthening and expanding the CWM’s activities in all four of its program areas.

If you would like to join me in that effort in any capacity—as a volunteer, an audience member, a student of a particular world music tradition, a donor—please contact Monica Emery, our Executive Director, and she will be happy to work with you on strengthening your contribution to the goals and mission of our more than half-century-old organization. If you would like to write me directly, please send an email to tim.rice@centerforworldmusic.org.

I am particularly grateful that Lewis Peterman, our past president, will remain on the Center’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee. I know all of us will benefit from his wise counsel and vast experience.

Best wishes, and thank you for your interest in the Center for World Music.


Timothy Rice, President, Center for World Music

The Center for World Music Board of Directors and staff are pleased to announce the election of Dr. Timothy Rice as our new president and CEO. Tim is just the third president in the CWM’s long history. As president, Dr. Rice follows founder Dr. Robert E. Brown (president 1965-2005) and his colleague Dr. Lewis Peterman (2006-2016), both San Diego State University meritorious professors emeriti of ethnomusicology.

Tim, UCLA Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Ethnomusicology, moved to San Diego four years ago. His election represents a continuation of the CWM’s tradition of having leading figures in the field of ethnomusicology and musicology as president. A specialist in the traditional music of the Balkans, especially from the Slavic-speaking nations of Bulgaria and Macedonia, he is the author of May It Fill Your Soul: Experiencing Bulgarian Music (University of Chicago Press, 1994) and Music in Bulgaria: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture (Oxford University Press, 2004). He also writes frequently about ethnomusicology as an academic field, including a book titled Ethnomusicology: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2014) and another called Modeling Ethnomusicology (Oxford University Press, 2017).

He was founding co-editor of the ten-volume Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, and he co-edited Volume 8, Europe. He has served the field of ethnomusicology as editor of its leading journal Ethnomusicology (1981-1984), as president of the Society for Ethnomusicology (2003-2005), and as a member of the Executive Board of the International Council for Traditional Music (2007-2013). He was associate dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture from 2005 to 2008 and director of The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music from 2007 to 2013.

We invite you to read reflections on the work of the Center for World Music by Tim Rice, and a message from our immediate past president Lewis Peterman, both expressing their thoughts on this transitional moment in our history.

– Monica Emery, Executive Director


Lewis Peterman
Lewis Peterman

Lewis “Pete” Peterman

It has been my distinct honor to serve the Center for World Music as its president for the past 10 years. And now, as its immediate past president, I wish to extend a warm welcome to our new president Tim Rice. It is for me a great pleasure to pass the mantle and leave the leadership of the CWM’s growing programs into the very capable hands of such a distinguished and highly regarded ethnomusicologist.

During my term as president, the Center hosted numerous distinguished teaching artists from abroad: Africa (Guinea, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, & Zimbabwe), Europe (Finland, Ireland, & the Balkans), Asia (India & Indonesia), Latin America (Mexico & Peru), and the Caribbean (Trinidad & the Cayman Islands). In addition, the Center produced intensive two-week hands-on performing arts (traditional music, dance, and puppetry) workshops abroad in Asia (Bali & China), Africa (Ghana), and Latin America (Peru & Mexico). In addition, the Center provided rich opportunities for local teaching artists and local performing ensembles, provided financial and personal support for local universities and community colleges, developed innovative cultural tourism programs abroad for San Diegans (in Asia, Africa, and Latin America), received federal and state grants to support San Diego performing arts programs (for example, from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council), and grew its unique World Music in the Schools program which promotes awareness, skills, and knowledge of the rich performing arts traditions of the world through weekly hands-on classes and periodic assemblies in K–12 San Diego schools.

At its “Flower Mountain” two-acre retreat in Bali during my presidency, the CWM hosted groups of students of the performing arts from UCLA, the California Institute of the Arts, Southern Methodist University, Gettysburg College, St. Mary’s College, Warren Wilson College, the National University of Singapore, and San Diego State University. Also participating in Center-sponsored events at Flower Mountain were a group of K-12 classroom teachers from Seattle, a group of Zimbabwean mbira players from New Zealand and Japan, and an undergraduate drama group from Hartwick College in upstate New York.

One year in particular, the Center sponsored 70+ concerts, reached 10,000 K-12 San Diego students through its World Music in the Schools program (with 30 teaching artists and 20 ensembles-in-residence), produced a 17-day Zimbabwe Music and Dance Celebration, produced a 2nd Annual San Diego Indonesian Gamelan Festival, produced and hosted a College Music Society world music workshop for American university music professors, organized a 10-city national Indian Odissi Dance tour, and continued offering its local workshops (son jarocho, Balinese gamelan, Odissi dance) and its study abroad workshops in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

As the past president and a continuing board member of the CWM, I look forward enthusiastically to providing continuing advice and assistance as the new leadership works to strengthen and expand the CWM’s programs, both in San Diego and abroad.

–Lewis Peterman, Past President, Center for World Music

Baptist Church Choir

This is an experiential narrative contributed by Delores Fisher, a member of our Artistic Advisory Board.

Several years ago, I participated at a local San Diego elementary school in a collaborative art project taught by different teachers, each an expert in a specific field, each with previous collaborative teaching experience. Our main goal was to provide students with a critical thinking lens through which to study slavery in the United States; our tools were visual art, dance, and music. All during the project, a young boy followed me talking about how he was not from California; he was from the South. He spent a lot of time with his grandmother and he “loved music.”

The first module of my segment introduced basic African drum rhythms, use of a time line to hold the patterns together, basic body movements, and short vocal passages sung a cappella—in this case specifically without melodic support. Then I introduced altered clapping/foot stomping techniques used by slaves to provide the steady pulse in place of the time line when drums were banned.

Our next segment introduced slave songs, slow and fast in tempo. We noted that some of these songs did not have solid evidence as to origins and that many of the songs are still sung today by a variety of artists, in various arrangements.

One song we sang was “Swing Down Chariot Stop And Let Me Ride.”* It exists in at least three different versions. See all three versions here

I am not sure when or where I learned the up tempo version of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot Stop and let me Ride.” I only remember singing it since childhood. The lyrics I learned are a variation on the original. This is what I taught the students:

Swing down, chariot, stop and let me ride.
Swing down, chariot, stop and let me ride.
Swing down, chariot, stop and let me ride:
I’ve got a home on the other side.

We sang these words twice, then practiced the hand clap/foot stomp accompanying rhythm. We put it all together and sang it through twice. Before the third repetition, the little boy sitting next to me sang in a deeper voice, the secondary vocal part, before the chorus began again. I kept singing, keeping the others on track.

Why don’t you swing?
Swing down, chariot, stop and let me ride.
Oh, swing!
Swing down, chariot, stop and let me ride.
Come on and swing!
Swing down, chariot, stop and let me ride:
I’ve, . . .
I’ve got a home on the other side.

As the song ended, we all clapped. Hands went up. “Did you plan this? Did you practice together?” I looked at the class and said, “Hey, we did not plan this!”

The young man smiled and said, “I learned it from my grandmother.”

Historic African American musical traditions were and are still being passed on orally, without notation, from generation to generation–via Internet videos or face to face. I absorbed many songs listening to my mother in her shimmering soprano voice as she moved about the house doing daily activities while my dad was at work. At times when he felt like it, my dad, who had sang in a group as a young man, would sing at home in a soft tenor voice. These memories still make me smile.

Many Afro-classical arrangers of slave songs also learned the original tune pre-transcribed from the voice of an elder. Children continue to listen to grandparents, parents, and other relatives singing in religious settings, recreational settings like picnics, domestic settings doing housework–cooking, mopping floors, vacuuming–and also at quiet time or nap time with the singing of lullabies. Oral transmission is woven into the fabric of Black cultural memories.

– Delores Fisher, MA, is a blogger, essayist, musician, poet, and lecturer in the Department of Africana Studies at San Diego State University. Professor Fisher serves as a member of the Center for World Music’s Artistic Advisory Board, with a specialty in African American sacred music 

*“Swing Down Chariot Stop And Let Me Ride” has been recorded in part or full by sacred and secular groups, soloists, and even international ensembles. A few Internet video/accessible examples: The Fisk Jubilee Singers, Elvis Presley,  The Golden Gate Quartet, The Imperials, The Gaithers, Dorothy Love Coates and The Gospel Harmonettes, The Soweto Gospel Choir, Rufus and Chaka Khan, Parliament/Funkadelics, and Dr. Dre used a line from the spiritual it in the “Chronic.”

Folk Dance Center Event

The Center for World Music would like to alert our audience to the programs of the Folk Dance Center, a San Diego institution with which we’ve had a long relationship. In more cases than not, traditional music and dance forms are inseparable. The missions of our two organizations thus overlap to a great extent. We encourage you to check out their website, especially their monthly newsletters.

We will be promoting special programs of the Folk Dance Center via our Facebook page and other social media. We invite you to stop by their studio on 30th Street for one of their frequent folk dance sessions. Also, be alert for their many fine events and classes! See their current newsletter for details.

The Folk Dance Center (FDC) is a non-profit organization of amateur dancers with a common interest in folk dances from around the world. The FDC seeks to increase understanding of world folk dance and to preserve this rich resource for future generations. Membership is open to all.

Folk Dance Center Logo
Folk Dance Center
Dancing Unlimited
4569 30th Street
San Diego, CA 92116
Message phone: 619-281-5656