James Stanley: Teaching Hawaiian Ukulele, Movement, and Culture

James Stanley is a San Diego native who was raised embracing, embodying, and sharing Hawaiian culture and arts. He is the eldest son of Kumu (Hula Teacher) Kathy Heali’i Gore Stanley, the founder of San Diego’s Heali’i’s Polynesian Revue. As such, James was immersed in Polynesian arts and began performing dance and playing the ukulele at a very young age. His love of dance and movement eventually inspired him to earn a BA in kinesiology from CSU Northridge in 2018.

Image of James Stanley performing traditional Hawaiian dance

James Stanley performing traditional Hawaiian dance

James has performed with many of Hawai’i’s music legends, including HAPA, Na Leo Pilimehana, Amy Hānaiali’i, Makaha Sons, and Kalani Pe’a. Today, James is an alakaʻi (co-leader) and kāne director (men’s director) for Heali’i’s Polynesian Revue. He pours his aloha into nurturing his family’s hālau (Hawaiian dance school) through music, dancing, and traditional practices.

We are proud to have James as a teaching artist for the CWM’s youth education program, World Music in the Schools. James engages over 900 San Diego County school children a week with Hawaiian language and traditions, ukulele, and dancing.

Image of James Stanley in a World Music in the Schools classroom

James Stanley in a World Music in the Schools classroom

James’ brother, Anthony Kauka Stanley is also a teaching artist for the School’s program. Learn more about Anthony from his profile on our website.

For Further Exploration

Watch James Stanley on stage performing Hawaiian dance to the music of the Mākaha Sons.

Silvio Diaz: Empowering Students through Latin Rhythms

Born in Mexico City, Silvio Diaz grew up in Ensenada and Tijuana in an artistic household. His family produced educational performances for children, featuring puppetry, theater, and music. At a young age, Silvio played various musical instruments, including the clarinet, guitar, and drum set, along with other forms of percussion. Additionally, he participated in his family’s puppetry, theater, and music productions, performing in Mexico, Spain, and the United States.

While performing with his family, Silvio pursued his interest in visual arts and Latin percussion. He attended an arts high school in Mexico City before earning a bachelor’s degree in music composition from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico. His journey as a musician involved playing in several bands, each specializing in different genres—including reggae, rock, and Latin music—while pursuing his own musical goals.

In 2018, Silvio relocated to San Diego to join his father and brother in their percussion ensemble Drummers Without Borders. Since its formation, Drummers Without Borders has been dedicated to providing music education to underserved communities, schools, correctional facilities, and the general public. The group uses rhythm as a fundamental tool to engage students and help them feel a sense of accomplishment. Their programs sometimes end with a parade with large puppets and rows of children marching with drums.

Drummers Without Borders has performed for the Center for World Music in two recent series: “Music on the Move: Border Stories” at The Front Arte Cultura Gallery and “Sound of the Border | Sonido de la Frontera” at Mingei International Museum.As a teaching artist with the CWM’s World Music in the Schools program, Silvio introduces students to the percussive rhythms of Latin America. He encourages his pupils to start simple, try new things, collaborate, and express themselves. His goal is to inspire confidence and teamwork.

Thanks to a partnership between the CWM, San Diego Unified’s Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Department, the VAPA Foundation, and the California Arts Council, Silvio participated in a program at Balboa Elementary highlighting the music and rhythms of Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America.

San Diego’s KUSI News featured this class for bringing culturally relevant music programming into schools:

Silvio teaches for organizations such as the San Diego Guild of Puppetry, Arts Education Connection San Diego, The House of Music, and Bocón Arts. He also enjoys playing music at home with his daughter. His ultimate dream is for everyone to recognize the power of art in education and human development.

Kaylie Kirby: Continuing a Legacy of Indonesian Arts

Sharing her love of Indonesian arts through the CWM’s World Music in the Schools program, Kaylie Kirby is patient, passionate, and playful as a teaching artist.

Kaylie is no stranger to Balinese gamelan angklung (metallophone ensemble) in the K–8 classroom. She began her journey with Indonesian music and dance when she was in 5th grade at Museum School, the school in which she now teaches young students. There she studied Balinese gamelan and dance with master teachers I Nyoman Sumandhi and Ni Putu Sutiati, who were CWM distinguished visiting artists in San Diego back in the early 2000s. You can learn more about her full-circle performing arts journey from this feature story on our website.

After her first exposure to Indonesian arts as a 5th grader, Kaylie continued her studies, attending after-school classes in Balinese dance. Later, she joined Puspa Warsa, an ensemble of advanced students organized by former CWM teaching artists Alex Khalil and Kaori Okado. With that group, Kaylie performed all over Southern California for numerous universities and festivals, and on television.

Kaylie with daughter

She later studied under other Balinese masters, including I Nyoman Wenten, renowned Balinese musician and dancer, at CalArts and UCLA. In 2018–19, she was a member of the Balinese gamelan angklung ensemble Gunung Mas at the University of San Diego, directed by Dr. David Harnish.

Today Kaylie finds joy in sharing her passion for Indonesian music and culture, especially as her own children are now enrolled in the program at Museum School in San Diego’s Bankers Hill neighborhood.

Irish Music at The Ould Sod

San Diego’s Irish Music Sessions at the Ould Sod

There’s a fascinating variety of traditional music to be found in the San Diego area. Mike De Smidt tells us about the weekly Irish music sessions at The Ould Sod, an Irish pub on Adams Avenue.

George at The Ould SodMany people became familiar with Irish traditional music in the 1990s with the emergence of the stage phenomenon Riverdance. Some may also be aware of something that has existed far longer and continues to be a vibrant affair for musicians and spectators alike: the session, best described as a group of musicians playing a spontaneous selection of dance music. Irish music has a very long history, dating back thousands of years, but the music that is heard today developed primarily in the past two hundred or so years.

One important aspect of Irish traditional music that makes it distinct from many other European musical traditions is its contiguous history, unbroken by shifts in the political climate or changes in cultural taste. Sessions are a great venue for the transmission of this tradition from one generation of musicians to the next.

The purpose is thus not only musical but also social. Friendships are forged and reinforced through the sharing of tunes from the participants’ repertoires. Sessions, moreover, play a vital role in building a sense of community.

Photo of The Ould SodThe session at The Ould Sod on Adams Avenue in San Diego has engendered a wonderful musical climate for more than 20 years and serves as an anchor for the local community of Irish musicians. Every Tuesday night, between five and ten musicians gather in an alcove by the front door or in the beer garden area at the rear of the establishment and play a variety of tunes—jigs, reels, hornpipes, slides, and the occasional song—for themselves and for anyone else who wishes to listen.

This is an important thing to note about Irish sessions: the musicians, while certainly happy if other pub patrons enjoy the music, are primarily playing for their own enjoyment. That being said, it is a fairly inclusive affair as well. New musicians—of varying experience—are welcomed into the group, learning the shared repertoire and often adding to it with music they bring to the gathering on their own.

While it is a regular weekly event at The Ould Sod, the session still maintains an air of informality that adds to its charm and sense of inclusion. There is no amplification, the instruments are acoustic, and you will find a wide variety of them at that! There’ll be the fiddles, flutes, banjos, and guitars that most people are familiar with, but also more unusual instruments such as the uilleann pipes and the concertina.

kevin-kane-bob-schoultz-at-the-ould-sod-sm

Photograph by Michael Eskin

A session is an occasion to celebrate, enjoy a musical culture, and have a great night out with your friends. Tuesdays at The Ould Sod are certainly no exception.

— Mike De Smidt is a musician, ethnomusicologist, and instrument builder living near Santa Cruz, California.

See a short video of a typical Irish session, from Joe McHugh’s Pub in the village of Liscannor on the west coast of Ireland.

The Ould Sod
3373 Adams Ave, San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 284-6594

Website | Google Map

 

Meghan Hynson: Sharing the Music and Culture of Indonesia

Image of Meghan Hynson in Bali Holding an Angklung

Meghan Hynson with angklung in Java

Meghan Hynson was first exposed to Balinese gamelan (gong ensemble) while studying for her undergraduate degree in music education and oboe performance at Boston University. Intrigued by the sound of the gamelan, she soon began studying Indonesian ensemble music, took private lessons on Balinese gendèr wayang (metallophone duo or quartet), and was awarded a scholarship to travel to Bali to follow her passion for Indonesian music and culture.

She eventually earned her MA and PhD in ethnomusicology at UCLA, writing her dissertation on Balinese shadow puppet theater. Having taught at Duquesne University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Monmouth University, Dr. Hynson is currently adjunct assistant professor of ethnomusicology at the University of San Diego, where she directs the Balinese gamelan ensemble and teaches courses in global music.

Fluent in Bahasa Indonesia, the national language of that multi-cultured nation, Dr. Hynson has spent over a decade living and studying in Southeast Asia. In 2019, Dr. Hynson toured internationally as a vocalist for the Indonesian pop band, the Dangdut Cowboys, under the invitation of the U.S. State Department. She typically spends several months each year at her second home in Mas Village, Bali, doing research and furthering her study of the island’s rich traditions.

Image of Meghan Hynson in Classroom

Meghan Hynson in San Diego classroom

During her career, Dr. Hynson has developed world music curricula and outreach programs for K-12 schools, worked with major museums and international world music festivals, and spoken out for global diversity through music via campus and community activities.

As a teaching artist with the CWM’s World Music in the Schools program, Dr. Hynson teaches Balinese gamelan angklung and Indonesian angklung rattles.

Image of Sophie Bell with Uke

Sophie Bell: Bringing Joy to San Diego Music Classrooms

Sophie Bell is passionate about making music fun and accessible for all. A talented multi-instrumentalist, Sophie plays the guitar, ukulele, bass, banjo, mandolin, and piano. Hailing from Boston, where she performed and taught guitar and electric bass, she is now a professional musician and music educator in San Diego. She inspires youth to foster community and connection with one another through the powerful language of music.

Image of Sophie Bell with BanjoSophie has taught students as young as three and as old as fifty across San Diego, in group classes and individually. As a teaching artist for the CWM’s World Music in the Schools program, Sophie shares her love for the ukulele and the diverse cultures in which it is honored and played. Her students strum and sing along with happy enthusiasm while learning the significance and history behind each song.

In addition to her work with the Center for World Music, Sophie teaches after-school music and movement enrichment classes at All Friends Nature School. There, she designed and built mountain dulcimers made from palm tree leaves that students used in their final performance. She has also taught through Guitars and Ukes in the Classroom, a San Diego nonprofit dedicated to expanding the role of music in education and elevating student engagement.

Image of Sophie Bell on stageIn the realm of rock music, Sophie taught at Gxrls Rock Summer Camp, a San Diego program empowering girls and non-binary youth through music. She also helped organize and led a rock band of six-year-olds at Kalabash School of Music and the Arts in La Jolla.

Sophie participates in a wide range of musical ensembles, including the Mesa College guitar and jazz ensembles, The Bearded Ladies, a four piece theatrical folk band, and the California pop group The Sleepy Pearls, for whom she plays bass.

Sophie’s thoughtful and compassionate temperament, as well as her lively and dedicated musicianship, transmit a love of music and personal expression to her students from the moment they set foot in her classroom. She believes deeply in cultivating the musicality inherent in every human being. Establishing that joyful connection is her heart’s work.

The Persian Tar

The word tar, in Persian, means “string.” This word can be found in the names of many of the instruments that musicologists class as chordophones, including setar (“3 strings”), dotar (“2 strings”), ektara (“1 string”), and of course, guitar.

Mohammad Resa Lofti plays the Persian tar

Mohammad Resa Lofti plays the Persian tar

The stringed tar of Iran and Azerbaijan—not to be confused with the North African drum of the same name—is a plucked instrument with 3 double courses of strings, giving a hint to its origin, the 3-string setar mentioned above. While the setar traveled to North India eight centuries ago, eventually developing into the sitar, the tar was adapted from the setar in Iran only three centuries ago. The North Indian sitar and the Iranian tar are both larger and louder than the setar.

The body of the tar has a double bowl carved from a block of mulberry wood, with a thin skin membrane attached as the soundboard. When it is played with the traditional brass plectrum called mezrab, it produces a full, round, yet clearly articulated tone. It can be played as a solo instrument, in an ensemble, or to accompany a singer. As in many music cultures, the instrument’s sound and articulation mimic the vocal singing style, so the tar is played to sound like Persian singing, which employs a distinctive technique of melodic and rhythmic embellishment known as tahrir.

Ramiz Guliyev plays the Azeri tar

Ramiz Guliyev plays the Azeri tar

In an ensemble, the tar is often played along with the kamancheh, a bowed fiddle that also features a skin soundboard, and the tombak, a goblet-shaped drum. The frets of the tar are made of gut tied on the neck so as to be movable. This allows players to make small adjustments that might be necessary to play in different maqams, or scales.

The Iranian tar thus continues to be fretted like a setar and tuned according to the traditional system of the greater Middle East. During the Soviet rule of Azerbaijan in the 20th century, on the other hand, Azeri music and the Azeri tar adopted the Western equal temperament (piano-like) tuning system.

Photo of Luisa Corredor and Ignacio Arango

Luisa Corredor and Ignacio Arango: Sharing Cuban Music in Partnership

Luisa Corredor, a singer and teacher native to San Diego, and Ignacio Arango, a guitarist and bassist from Cuba, are each talented musicians and educators in their own right. Together, they pack a punch in our World Music in the Schools program, working as a duo in the classroom, sharing songs in Spanish and English, and providing musical accompaniment for the students.

Luisa Corredor and Ignacio Arango

Luisa Corredor and Ignacio Arango

Coming from a musical family, Luisa Corredor was exposed to the arts at a young age and has committed much of her life to the performing arts as a singer, actor, teacher, and producer. She is a force of nature on stage and in the classroom, touching audiences and inspiring students with her powerful, soulful voice. She has studied and performed musical traditions from cultures worldwide. Her repertoire includes English folk songs from the Renaissance era, Flamenco, Middle Eastern, Greek, and Irish songs, as well as Cuban, Mexican, Brazilian, and other traditional music from South America.

Luisa has experience teaching as a private voice instructor and for the Encinitas Union School District as an instructional assistant for bilingual and special education classrooms. She also taught Spanish as a second language at Paul Ecke Central Elementary School.

Ignacio Arango

While growing up in Havana, Ignacio Arango was surrounded by Afro-Cuban polyrhythms and the improvisational craft of the native rumberos and soneros (rumba and salsa artists). His deep musical roots shine through in his rhythmic, tasteful, and skillful playing. When he was 12, Ignacio enrolled in the Guillermo Tomas music conservatory in Guanabacoa (featured recently on NPR) where he studied for 5 years with a focus on guitar. His musical career began during his military service, playing euphonium in La Banda Música del Estado Mayor.

Upon demobilizing, Ignacio’s musical career blossomed. He was the bassist for “Show Tropicana” in Cuba for ten years, with which he toured Italy, Mexico, and Monaco. Ignacio has played guitar and bass with a number of diverse bands and artists, including Fusión 4, La Orquesta de Radio y Televisión, Kokopelli Latin Jazz Ensemble, Gilbert Castellanos’ La Conciencia, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Carlos Washington & Giant People, and many others.

Since 2006, Ignacio has dedicated his attention to performing folklore jazz with his family band, Los Hermanos Arango, with whom he continues to perform.

Rogelle Zamora Celebrates Philippine Musical Heritage

Rogelle Zamora is a musician and educator based in Southern California. As a second-generation Filipino American, he is passionate about providing opportunities for community members to learn about the musical cultures and practices of the diverse peoples of the Philippine Islands.

Rogelle’s journey into Philippine music began in 2018 when he met Bernard Ellorin, Ph.D., a leading Southern California expert in Philippine music and musical director of the Samahan Filipino American Performing Arts & Education Center in San Diego. Building upon his experience playing violin with Mariachi Los Broncos, the premiere mariachi ensemble of Cal Poly Pomona, Rogelle developed a strong desire to learn about the musical practices of his own cultural heritage. After graduating with his B.A. in music education from Cal Poly, he moved to San Diego to study with Dr. Ellorin and pursue this interest.

In 2021, he received the Apprenticeship Program Award from the Alliance for California Traditional Arts in support of his study with Dr. Ellorin of Tagunggu’ gong ensemble music, unique to the cultures of the Sulu Archipelago. With this funding, he was also able to supplement his studies with Dr. Ellorin through participation in the 2023 edition of Tribu Tur, a cultural immersion trip in the Philippines organized by KULARTS, San Francisco.

Today, Rogelle performs regularly with the rondalla (string ensemble) of Samahan and the Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble. When opportunities arise, he also teaches private lessons and performs for weddings, anniversaries, and other special events. He most recently joined the Palomar Symphony Orchestra, maintaining connections with his Western classical upbringing as a violist. As an educator, he teaches students of all ages, serving as an instructional staff member with various school music programs and independent organizations across Southern California such as the Filipino Cultural School, Rancho Bernardo High School Royal Regiment, and Pulse Percussion Inc.

Rogelle is excited to further the CWM’s mission to foster intercultural awareness as a teaching artist for World Music in the Schools.

Kourosh Taghavi: Excellence in Persian Classical Music

Kourosh Taghavi is a master of the Iranian setar, a prolific composer, and a teacher of Persian classical music. Based in San Diego since 1984, he has studied under the tutelage of world-renowned virtuosi Mohammad Reza Lotfi and Hossein Alizadeh. These studies have been the source of his unique approach to the art of Iranian music. Taghavi’s passionate and melodic approach to music is the foundation of his many collaborations and recordings with numerous artists, performing both traditional and modern forms of Iranian music. His collaborative projects with master musicians and international and local cultural organizations help fulfill his lifelong commitment to raising awareness of the importance of music in people’s lives.

Kourosh teaches setar and voice throughout California, as well as lecturing, composing original music for plays and pieces based on contemporary Iranian poetry, holding music workshops, and recording. These and numerous other endeavors are expressions of his passionate quest to promote Persian classical music.

Kourosh is a founding member of Namaad Ensemble, with which he has toured throughout the US, Europe, and Asia. His collaborations with renowned master artists such as Hossein Omoumi, poets Robert Bly and Coleman Barks, and prestigious cultural organizations such as the Konya Mystic Music Festival (Turkey), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Carlsbad and Del Mar Music festivals are a few highlights of his efforts to introduce Persian classical music and poetry to a broad audience.

As a San Diego State University faculty member, Kourosh taught a course in Persian classical music and oversaw a related thesis.

Kourosh Taghavi at Poway

Kourosh Taghavi teaches the Persian setar. UT hoto by Don Boomer

His ongoing collaboration with the Center for World Music as a teaching artist in residence brings Persian music to schools across San Diego through weekly classes and occasional performances. Kourosh’s curricula provide children with high-quality instruction in Persian classical music and singing. Through age-appropriate lessons, Mr. Taghavi introduces the world of music and rhythm through hands-on music-making in a fun, harmonious environment where children thrive musically and socially.

A parent of two children, Kourosh recognizes the significance of music in early childhood education. Fatherhood inspired Kourosh to explore and compose music for the youngest of audiences, as captured in the album Epiphany by the Namaad Ensemble.

For Further Reading and Viewing

The San Diego Participant Observer spotlights Persian Classical Musician, Kourosh Taghavi

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports on how Kouresh helps Poway Students Encounter a World of Music

Our friends at the Persian Cultural Center of San Diego have published a nice article about Kouresh’s work as CWM teaching artist at King-Chavez Academies in San Diego.

Kourosh’s lecture and performance at the 2012 Baraka Retreat in Santa Barbara.