Refugee Women's Drum Circle

Refugee Artists in San Diego, June 2018

The Center for World Music celebrates the inaugural season of Songs and Stories: Refugee Artists in San Diego, a CWM project that bridges the distance between San Diego’s refugee population and the general the public through the performing arts.

San Diego County is known as a relocation hub for those fleeing persecution and violence. Over the past year, CWM project volunteers and staff worked with local refugee communities to identify performers and artistic leaders. We then facilitated opportunities for these artists to creatively interface with the public, allowing audiences to become immersed in the traditions, journeys, and voices of those finding refuge in San Diego. Through creative arts the CWM aimed to share refugee experiences and contributions, reduce the social distance between San Diego public and its refugee communities, and encourage support of refugee communities.

During the month of June 2018, 49 musicians performed in three locations across the City of San Diego. The events, which drew large and enthusiastic audiences, were hosted by the San Diego Public Library system.

The Songs and Stories series opened on June 6 with Voices of Hope from Africa at the San Diego Central Library  The event featured Matrida Boazi, the Revelation Gospel Band, and Emmanuel Adamson, with the discussion led by Delores Fisher, musician and San Diego State University lecturer.

Revelation Gospel BandRevelation Gospel BandRevelation Gospel BandVoices of Hope Crowd DancingMatrida and Revelation Gospel BandMatrida Dancing with AudienceVoices of Hope Discussion

Here’s a short video of the Voices of Hope concert.

The next event was Musicians of the Middle East on June 16 at the Logan Heights Branch Library. Featured were Fouad Sawa and the Al-Salam Ensemble, along with Dlan Dary. The discussion was led by Dr. Alex Khalil, neurocomputational ethnomusicologist and project scientist at the University of California, San Diego.

Iraqi Refugee Al Salam EnsembleIragi Refugee Musicians AudienceIragi Refugee Al Salam Ensemble with Natasha KozailyIraqi Refugee Musician Fouad SawaSyrian Refugee Musician Dlan DarySyrian Refugee Musician Dlan Dary

See more of Musicians of the Middle East in this short video.

Culminating the series was Transformations Through Rhythm & Word on June 21 at the City Heights/Weingart Library and Performance Annex. The program featured storyteller Ari Honarvar, poet/songwriter Shadi Amini, and Shiffa: Refugee Women’s Drum Circle, lead by Dilkwaz Ahmed, Ari Honarvar, and Christine Stevens. The discussion was led by Vikas Srivastava, musician, author, and advocate of non-violence and social equity.

Refugee Storyteller Ari HonarvarRefugee Women's Drum CircleRefugee Women's Drum CircleRefugee Musicians ShadiRefugee Musicians Transformation DiscussionRefugee Women's Drum CircleRefugee Women's Drum Circle

KPBS aired a nice video on Transformations Through Rhythm & Word.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in these programs do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This project was also made possible with matching funds from the Peacemakers Fund and through a partnership with the San Diego Public Library system.

Financial support was provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.

The CWM expresses sincere thanks to the San Diego Refugee Forum, the International Rescue Committee, Musical Ambassadors of Peace, UpBeat Drum Circles, License to Freedom, and San Diego Newcomers Support & Development Programs.

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Gamelan Project Article by Alex Khalil

Alex Khalil’s Gamelan Project Smithsonian Article

Gamelan aficionados and music educators alike with find much of interest in this great Smithsonian article on the value of music education for kids by Center for World Music board member Alexander Khalil, PhD. Dr. Khalil offers important observations on attention in children, impaired temporal processing, ADHD, and the benefits of bi-musicality.

Our research has found a connection between the ability to synchronize with an ensemble in a gamelan-like setting and other cognitive characteristics, particularly the ability to focus and maintain attention. Our current work explores whether improvements at interpersonal time processing, or synchrony, may translate into improved attention.

Also of interest in this article is Alex’s account of the history of the Center for World Music’s World Music in the Schools program, based on his experience as a founding instructor during and after the program’s 1999 inauguration in San Diego at the Museum School:

The gamelan program at the Museum School has its philosophical roots in [pioneering ethnomusicologist] Mantle Hood’s well-known concept of “bi-musicality.” Just as one who is bi-lingual must have fluency in more than one language, one must be fluent in more than one musical language to be considered bi-musical. Robert E. Brown, who studied under Hood at UCLA and subsequently founded the Center for World Music, made his first efforts to bring world music, a term he is credited with having invented, to the elementary classroom in 1973 through his “world music in the schools” program in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Read the full text of this article on the Smithsonian Freer Sackler website.

Find out more about Dr. Khalil’s work at UCSD’s Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center.

And here’s a nice video documenting the ongoing gamelan program at the Museum School.

Sufi Raina

Sufi Raina, Teacher of Kathak Dance

The Center for World Music is pleased to welcome Sufi Raina to our roster of distinguished teaching artists, a team of professional musicians and dancers who bring the worlds’ performing arts into San Diego classrooms through World Music in the Schools.

Sufi Raina Headshot

Sufi Raina is a silver medalist in Kathak, one of the preeminent classical dance traditions of North India. She holds a master’s degree in Kathak from Apeejay College of Fine Arts, Jalandar, Punjab, where her mentor was the esteemed Dr. Santosh Vyas. She also holds a master’s in psychology from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.

Trained in the Jaipur Gharana (tradition), Sufi was a lecturer in Kathak at KMV College Jalandhar for three years. During this time she taught dance as a major to undergraduate students. She also choreographed performances for the college as well as for national youth festivals. She was invited to England by the North Somerset Music Service, as a part of a cultural exchange program, to perform and teach Kathak in schools, introducing students to Indian classical dance.

Sufi Raina Dancing

Sufi has choreographed many dance performances for the stage and national television in India. She was an assistant choreographer for the Punjabi film Heer Ranjha. An innovative choreographer, Sufi is also trained in folk dance forms of India. Her love for Kathak, combined with countless dedicated hours of riyaaz (intense practice), have brought her to many stages across the world, enthralling an international audience with the nuances of this classical Indian dance form.

Sufi moved to Southern California in 2011. Since then, she has been actively performing in the region. A lifelong learner and a teacher by choice, she is the founder and artistic director of Tej Dance Studio in San Diego.

Sufi has recently taught for the Center for World Music as an artist in residence at Innovations Academy and at the San Diego French American School, as well as presenting assembly performances at Hawking STEAM Charter School and at SDFAS.

Want to see more? Visit these links:

Promotional Video for Tej Dance Studio
Kathak Performance Celebration World Dance Day in Punjab, India

Access for Seniors program with Sole e Mar, Lions Community Manor

Access to the Arts for Seniors, Spring 2018

Access to the Arts for Seniors is a new Center for World Music program presenting the world’s music dance, and related arts in affordable housing facilities for seniors with limited access to cultural enrichment. During Spring 2018, our Access to the Arts Coordinator, Stacey Barnett, organized five special programs in residential communities around the San Diego area.

Pictured above is our first event, a Mother’s Day celebration, May 9 at the Lion’s Community Manor, Market Street, San Diego, featuring Sol e Mar musicians David Shyde and Brian Pierini.

The series continued with a Memorial Day program, May 25, at the Escondido Garden Apartments, North Midway Drive, Escondido, with American roots and country music by Gemini Junction.

Access for Seniors program with Gemini Junction, Escondido Garden Apartments

Then a coffee hour on June 4 at Sorrento Tower Apartments, Cowley Way, San Diego, with Will Marsh performing “Lutes of the World” on guitar, Indian sitar, and Persian setar.

Access for Seniors program with Will Marsh, Sorrento Tower

Residents of St. John’s Plaza Apartments, Lemon Grove, enjoyed another coffee hour on June 13. This event featured Latin/Cuban music with drummer and CWM teaching artist Mark Lamson and guitarist Israel Maldonado.

Access for Senior program with Mark Lamson, St. John's Plaza

Finally, the season ended with a social at Guadalupe Plaza, San Diego, on July 2, featuring African American spirituals by Delores Fisher, member of the CWM’s Artistic Board.

Access for Seniors program with Delores Fisher, Guadalupe Plaza