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


Lewis Peterman in Bali

The Center for World Music owes much to Prof. Lewis Peterman. He was a personal friend of the distinguished ethnomusicologist and CWM founder, Robert Brown. He has been a champion for the CWM for years and the driving force behind some of the most fruitful years of the organization, to date. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Although he has retired from the leadership position of president, he still provides valuable advice and support. He is a CWM hero. He is an important reason children in the San Diego area are singing the stories and playing the music of cultures and traditions that reflect the heartbeat of humanity.

Meet our third and final hero, longtime contributor and donor of time, talent, and treasure, Lewis Peterman.

(1) You have served as an unusually active member of the Center’s Board of Directors for over 30 years. What’s motivated you to be so involved?

I have done so because I believe the Center is a very special organization—one that dares to dream of a harmonious world nurtured through interpersonal cooperation. Born during the 1960s, the inspiration for the creation of the Center by its founders, Samuel Scripps and Robert E. Brown, was the American counter-culture slogan “make love, not war,” which could also be restated as “make music, not noise.” Just as “love” is an innate human universal found in all cultures around the world, so is “music”— both in fact are associated with the best and most noble qualities of human nature (understanding, sharing, caring, intimacy, kindness, happiness, selflessness, value, meaning, healing). Indeed, it’s hard to hate others when dancing to their music. Ultimately, the Center fully recognizes the timeless wisdom of the old proverb, “to understand a man, you’ve got to walk a mile in his shoes, whether they fit or not.”

I have also devoted 30 years of my personal and professional life to the Center because I believe in what it does: namely, it enriches the human experience across the globe by fostering understanding through intercultural sharing via the performing arts, most especially through music. Diversity, quality, and programming—these form the nucleus of what the Center does. For the Center, “diversity” means ALL people on planet earth. Thus the Center strives to bring together people from disparate cultural backgrounds through artistic enlightenment and heightened mutual appreciation. For the Center, “quality” means valuing those special human beings who have attained the highest-level accomplishments in their fields of expertise. Consequently, the Center strives to develop and maintain a deeply devoted and unusually active Board of Directors, a distinguished Artistic Advisory Board, and a cadre of distinguished native and/or native-trained teaching artists. For the Center, “programming” always features both diversity and quality, whether through its in-depth workshop encounters abroad or through its educational school and public events here in America.

Over the past 30 years, I have gained a deep personal appreciation for the 50-year-old dream of the Center by serving in many leadership capacities: executive director, director of programs abroad, director of development, universities liaison, teaching artist, secretary, vice president, president, and now as the immediate past president.

(2) You have served as president the past 10 years. What have been some of the most exciting things the Center has done during this period?

Under my leadership as president, the Center has hosted numerous distinguished teaching artists from aboard: 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 has 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).

At its “Flower Mountain” two-acre retreat in Bali, the CWM has 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 the CWM’s World Music in the Schools program in San Diego, 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 (2012), 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 the 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.

(3) In what ways have you seen the Center contribute to San Diego?

Since its move from the Bay Area in 1980, the Center has contributed immensely to the enrichment of the cultural and educational life in San Diego in many ways. The Center implements its dream of harmonious interpersonal cooperation and of the development of the best and most noble qualities of human nature by fostering understanding through intercultural sharing in San Diego via the world’s performing arts. To most deeply enrich the arts environment in San Diego via extended residencies, the Center has hosted many master teaching artists and ensembles of traditional performing arts from abroad: from India, Bali, Java, Sumatra, Iran, the Philippines, China, Japan, Korea, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Peru, Mexico, Brazil, Cuba, Spain, Finland, Ireland, and the Balkans. In addition, the Center has provided rich opportunities for local teaching artists and local performing ensembles, has provided support for local universities and community colleges, has developed innovative cultural tourism programs abroad for San Diegans (in Asia, Africa, and Latin America), has received federal and state grants to support San Diego performing arts programs (i.e., the National Endowment for the Arts & the California Arts Council), and has developed a 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.

Thank you, Lewis Peterman.

Join Prof. Lewis Peterman and support programs for San Diego children in most danger of losing their access to cross-cultural music education.

Kirit Srivastava

Kirti Srivastava reflects the power of the arts and the influence and responsibility of an educator. The balance she has struck between her professional career and her deep, life-long passion for world music and dance serves as a model for those working in either field. As a champion of the arts, she makes a meaningful impact in the lives of the children with whom she works. She is our hero. She is an important reason children in the San Diego area are singing the stories and playing the music of cultures and traditions that reflect the heartbeat of humanity.

Meet our second of three heroes, former Odissi dance students, principal of Hawking STEAM Charter Elementary, world music advocate and artist, Kirti Srivastava.

(1)   What is your connection to world music?
As a first generation American, born to two artists from India (my father a visual artist and singer and my mother a dancer, actress and sitar player), world music and dance runs through my veins! My parents held weekly sangeets (musical gatherings) and satsangs (gatherings for spiritual discussion) long before my birth — so it was just a way of life for me.

I have fond memories of learning about different forms of music. I still recall my first introduction to jazz. I was in the 6th grade when my older brother Vikas handed a mix tape to me with John Coltrane on Side A and Miles Davis on Side B. He said: “This is all you need to know.”

As an Odissi dance student with the Center for World Music in high school, I was able to attend classical Indian house concerts at Purna and Gopa Patnaik’s house. I also attend concerts at Pt. Sri Ravi Shankar’s house! I still cannot attend a concert and feel as fully satisfied as I did those days, sitting just feet away from world-renowned musicians.

(2)   What exciting musical things go on at your school and with your students?
Music is life at Hawking STEAM Charter; we integrate song and dance into every learning opportunity possible – whether the kindergarteners are singing about ecosystems and habitats or the 6th graders are rehearsing a rap of character traits. Our goal is to help adults and children realize that music is the rhythm of life, and just as we seek to find melody in music, we learn to find harmony in life. While teachers integrate music throughout the day, we also have dedicated music programming during school hours. Half of the week, students are learning to play piano through online keyboarding software that connects to their piano keyboards. This teaches them the fundamental knowledge of music and notes. The other half of the week, students study tabla, a classical Indian drum. This class allows them to take what they have learned from piano and apply it to drumming. They also learn how the hand is able to make various notes on the drum. Both courses help students fine tune their mathematical skills while exercising creativity through the making of their own musical pieces.

(3)   How do you see world music programs impact your students?
While music, in general, has given our artistic students a voice in the academic arena, world music opens doors to learning opportunities in the study of geography and world cultures. It also helps students develop respect and empathy for people from cultures worldwide. The Center for World Music often brings guest artists to the school. The professional musicians share their gifts with the students and demonstrate how musicians are able to support themselves through their art form.

(4)   In what ways do you feel the Center contributes to San Diego?
The Center for World Music’s programs in schools not only nurture the future generations to understand and honor the role of music in cultures around the world, but they also bring awareness to the cultural and academic benefits of integrating music in schools. I witness students facing the challenges of learning to play instruments. In their music classes, student grapple to understand musical concepts and concentrate for extended amounts of time to play the right notes. I see the very same attitude carry over in their academic courses. Similarly, students’ performances build the grit for public presentations that we promote in our Project Based Learning teaching model.  By working with the school system, the CWM contributes to the larger San Diego community because students are continuously applying strategies learned through music to their daily lives.

(5)   What more can the CWM do to contribute to the student experience at Hawking Charter School and schools across San Diego County?
We would love to bring more monthly assemblies featuring artists/dancers/musicians from around the world. Ideally, we would like a package that will help schools like Hawking Charter afford and access more assemblies if they commit to a robust yearlong schedule.

Thank you, Kirti Srivastava.

Please join Kirti Srivastava and support programs for San Diego children in most danger of losing their access to cross-cultural music education.

Vanya Russell and friend from the Karen Organization of San Diego

Vanya Russell has been volunteering with the CWM for only two years but has made a notable impact. Her heartfelt financial contributions, endless volunteer energy, and catching enthusiasm has made a significantly impact the on the teaching artists, staff, board members, and audience members who have had the pleasure to meet her. She served as a culture bearer of Bulgaria enriching the experience of over 60 students at the San Diego French-American School. Finally, her donations helped us bring world musicians and dancers into classrooms across San Diego County, impacting over 4,500 children in the 2016-17 year.

She is our hero. She is an important reason children in the San Diego area are singing the stories and playing the music of cultures and traditions that reflect the heartbeat of humanity.

Meet the first of our three Center for World Music heroes: an all-star volunteer and generous donor, Vanya Russell!

Hi Vanya, can you tell us where you are from?
I am from Sofia, Bulgaria. I came to the U.S. in 1985 and moved to San Diego 1992.

As a volunteer, what have been some of the most memorable Center events you’ve participated in?
In Spring of 2016, I visited two classes at the San Diego French-American School, where Marie Hayes was teaching Bulgarian folk song. I was amazed at the dedication of the students to learn this difficult material. Marie Hayes did a very good job. At the end of the school year, I went to their concert and was touched to tears!

I have [also] volunteered at six CWM concerts at the Kalabash School of Music and Art. I am very impressed how well these concerts were organized, and how well they were attended, in addition to the diversity and quality of the presenters.

What was the most recent event you volunteered for? What did you think?
The “Music of Burma” event. For me, it was very touching, very special to interact with the young refugees. [You can see Vanya in the picture above posing with a dancer from this performance.]

When did you first encounter the Center for World Music (CWM)?
I learned about the CWM from a friend of mine who is a former volunteer for the Downtown Information Center. He met Monica, learned about the CWM, and suggested I get involved in volunteering. Monica and I met in fall 2015.

How do you see the Center contributing to San Diego communities?
For a small organization, the Center for World Music has spread its wing all over San Diego. Remarkable!

Thank you, Vanya Russell.

Join Vanya Russell and support programs for San Diego children in most danger of losing their access to cross-cultural music education.

Merja Soria

Merja Soria, a native of Finland, was the first Finlandia Foundation Performer of the Year in 1996. She received a master’s degree in music at Sibelius Academy in Finland and has taught Finnish music at San Diego State University and the University of San Diego. In 2003 and 2006, Ms. Soria was featured in the Who’s Who in America, and in 2005 she received an award at SDSU for Academic Excellence and Community outreach. Merja has performed at the Los Angeles Music Center, Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., Toronto Centre For the Arts, Peninsula Music Fair and many other music festivals in the United States and Europe.

Last December Merja was the featured performer, the “tradition-bearer” at the 2016 Christmas Revels production in Washington D.C. The show celebrates the Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year shifting toward light. The performances were seen by over 10,000 people. In December 2017 Merja will perform at the Christmas Revels production in Hanover, New Hampshire.

Ms. Soria’s CD Arctic Silence is a selection of ancient Finnish songs. A song from Arctic Silence was featured on the National Geographic Television’s program Beyond the Movie: Lord of The Rings.

Merja Playing

Currently, Ms. Soria teaches the young children of San Diego at her own music school, Miss Merja’s Music Room. Ms. Soria is dedicated to performing the touching music of Finnish heritage. She combines the kantele (Finnish folk harp) and voice to sing the haunting songs of Suomi. Finnish folk poetry tells that when the first kantele was played for the first time, the sound was so beautiful that everybody started to cry; when the tears touched the water of the ocean, they turned to pearls.

Her vocals are so haunting, her folk songs scholarship impeccable . . . Soria doesn’t need to clutter songs with much instrumentation, her voice carries the day all on its own.

Sing Out!

Shalini Patnaik

Center for World Music teaching artist Shalini Patnaik enjoys sharing her ancient art form with the San Diego community. She is one of the leading exponents in her generation of Odissi, the classical dance of northeastern India, and has a passion for teaching and sharing Indian culture through the language of dance. Born and raised in San Diego, California, she traveled repeatedly to India from a young age to learn the art form directly from dance masters in Orissa. Even today, she visits frequently for further training and performances.

Her teachers include the late Guru Gangadhar Pradhan and Gurus Aruna Mohanty, Manoranjan Pradhan, and Yudhistir Nayak.

Shalini and her sisters, together known as the “Patnaik Sisters,” were selected by pop superstar Madonna to choreograph and perform for a televised performance at the 1998 MTV Music Awards. She also choreographed for singer Ricky Martin’s 2006 tour. Shalini performed for Pandit Ravi Shankar’s 90th birthday celebration and for other superstars like George Harrison and Sting. Recently, Shalini was invited by Anoushka Shankar to perform as part of her “Traveler” tour.

While Shalini has enthralled audiences across the globe, she truly enjoys sharing her art form with fellow San Diegans, and especially with students.

Shalini and her sisters, Laboni and Shibani, have been instrumental in propagating Odissi throughout North America through performances, lecture demonstrations at universities, schools, and libraries, and teaching in the Center for World Music’s Odissi School. To share their passion for dance with others brings them immense joy; in doing so, they help preserve and propagate this rich, two-thousand-year-old cultural tradition outside of India.


Want to learn more?

Traditional dance helps keep sisters in touch with culture, The Coast News (2012)
She matches steps in India and beyond, The Telegraph (2012)

Shibani Patnaik is a distinguished Odissi dancer, member of the Patnaik Sisters, and Board Member for the Center for World Music.


We continue our series of reports on the fascinating variety of world music instruments with an article by Máirtín de Cógáin, CWM teaching artist and player of the bodhrán, or Irish frame drum.

When I was a young lad in Cork, Ireland the bodhrán (pronounced bow-rawn, like cow brawn) was commonly considered as the “ancient sound of Irish percussion.”  Indeed, we are told that the bodhrán was used to summon the fairies from their magic fort on full-moon nights. Many novice players could not understand why this profound sound of the past was not widely featured in traditional Irish music sessions across the world. After all, they would say, isn’t this “the Irish drum”? Little did we know that the opposite was the case. While teaching bodhrán in upstate New York at the Catskills Irish Arts Week, I sat in on an eye-opening lecture by Fintan Vallely entitled “Hunting for Borr-án: Shaking a Stick at the Origin Myths Concerning the Irish Drum.” My world as a bodhrán player was completely dismantled.

Through long research, Fintan had found that the bodhrán has been a part of Irish music for only the last 200 years, if that. Its use was not widespread and was generally reserved for only the wildest of parties. As Fintan puts it in his notes on the talk:

“. . . what is the history of the bodhrán? What we know so far is driven by myth and wishful thinking. . . . the famous Irish drum has no ancient artistic past: at the best it was only ever just a tambourine. The Irish device, from which the word ‘bodhrán’ comes, most likely originally meant an agricultural and domestic tray or container — even a sieve. Yet the bodhrán IS around, and being brilliantly played, as solid an art and presence as the harp or the pipes. We borrowed the device from [minstrel shows] or the Salvation Army, the rhythms from dancers’ feet, and we synthesised the modern playing style from the sounds of Ulster Lambeggers, Indian tabla tippers and Scottish pipe-band snare drummers.”

Today the bodhrán is a rapidly-developing Irish drum, in both its design and its playing style. It was brought from its humble origins in rural celebrations to public attention in concert halls and theaters by Seán Ó Riada and Peadar Mercier in the 1960s, and featured prominently in the ensembles Ceoltóirí Chualann and the Chieftains. From there it has exploded across the globe and become a mainstay at many Irish music sessions and home fireplaces. Johnny “Ringo” McDonogh is noted as the first player to damp the sound with one hand on the back of the instrument, and many others have further developed this style of two-hand playing. In addition, tunable bodhráns have improved the tone more concretely, and turned the humble farm utensil into a sophisticated musical instrument.

At the age of 19, I stumbled into the Douglas, County Cork branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve and promote Irish traditional performing arts. It was there that a tiny 6-inch bodhrán with a hole in it was thrust into my hands, and I was steered into a bodhrán class with teacher Eric Cunningham. The rest is history. Today, I play a 14-inch Metloef bodhrán, although many instruments of old were 18 to 20 inches in diameter. According to Fintan’s research, those larger sizes were prevalent because old spinning wheels were used as the rim of the instrument. Personally, I find the larger diameters too cumbersome, although other players still prefer them. Two pieces of wood in the shape of a cross, placed within the back-side frame are common in the larger drums, but I feel that they are a hindrance to playing the smaller instruments that I prefer.

In the past, the performer’s bare hand was most commonly used to beat the drum, as demonstrated by the great Rónán Ó Snodaigh. Nowadays, however, a stick called a cípín is typically used. Ideally, the cípín matches the length of the player’s hand, from outstretched thumb to outstretched baby finger, as this is about as much weight as any one’s wrist can withstand for extended playing. When both ends of the cípín are used, this is known as the “Kerry” style of bodhrán playing. A different style, known as “top end,” uses only one end of the stick and is characterized by a heavy emphasis on upstrokes of the cípín. 

Videos of the bodhrán:
The Gallant Fusiliers by Máirtín de Cógáin
Bodhran jigs – Karl Nesbitt & Tommie Cunniffe

Máirtín de Cógáin is an actor, singer, percussionist, storyteller, playwright, dancer, and teaching artist for the Center for World Music.


We continue our series of reports on the fascinating variety of world music instruments with an article by Randin Graves about the Australian Didjeridu.

The didjeridu (or didgeridoo) is a deceptively simple instrument in construction. Nevertheless, it can produce extremely complex music in the hands of an expert player. It is simply a tube with no reed, finger holes or moving parts of any kind. The player creates rhythm and shifts of timbre and pitch with movement of the breath, lips, tongue, cheeks, throat, vocal cords, and stomach muscles. “Circular breathing” is employed to produce continuous sound, whether a simple drone or an intricate rhythm.

A rough map of the origins of the didjeridu.

Aboriginal people of northern Australia invented the instrument and still use it in ceremony and daily life today. Didjeridu is not in fact an Aboriginal term, but an onomatopoeic word created by European settlers describing the sound produced by traditional players. There are many words for the instrument in Aboriginal languages. The best known around the world are yidaki from northeast Arnhem Land and mago from west Arnhem Land. In both regions, it is also common to hear the word bambu used. Bamboo was occasionally in use at the time of European contact, but has now fallen out of favor with Aboriginal players.

Djalu Gurruwiwi begins chopping down a stringybark tree (Eucalyptus tetradonta) to craft a didjeridu.

These days, people around the world make didjeridus out of a wide variety of materials. Traditionally, however, instruments are made from trunks of eucalyptus trees that have been hollowed out by termites commonly known as “white ants.” A craftsman scans a forest for likely instruments, then taps a tree up and down to evaluate the hollow inside. If it sounds good, the tree is felled, cut to length, stripped of its bark and carved down to match the interior hollow.

If the natural hollow of the wood at the top is too big or irregularly shaped, a material found in bee nests called “sugarbag” is formed into a mouthpiece. Sugarbag is a black, gummy substance native Australian bees make by mixing their wax with eucalyptus tree resin, not the yellow wax of European bees that is often seen on instruments made for the tourist market. Instruments made for sale or special ceremonies may be elaborately decorated with clan designs related to the artist, but most didgeridoos in everyday use in northern Australia are unpainted or wrapped top to bottom in duct or electrical tape to hold them together through inevitable cracking as the wood dries.

Milkay Mununggurr accompanies ceremonial song with a didjeridu completely wrapped in tape.

Traditional Aboriginal players continue to use age-old tonguing techniques that stem from their language and are foreign to most outsiders. As the instrument has spread globally, many more styles have developed around the world, from new age drones to beatboxing, in both solo and ensemble settings.

Witiyana Marika and Milkayngu Mununggurr of Yothu Yindi perform a
traditional Yolngu song with didjeridu

Randin Graves plays contemporary didjeridu music with guitar

— Randin Graves is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and one of the world’s leading non-Aboriginal exponents of the Australian didjeridu.

For more information on the didjeridu at its origin, visit, which Randin created in collaboration with many Yolngu Aboriginal people as part of his Fulbright Fellowship and Master’s Degree project.

Thai Jakhee

We continue our series of reports on the fascinating variety of world music instruments with an article about the jakhee, an instrument used in Thai and Khmer music.

The jakhee (จะเข้) is a plucked string instrument with three strings and eleven wooden frets, found in Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia. The name is derived from the Thai word for crocodile, jaurakhee, because the body of the instrument is shaped like a crocodile, and it is sometimes elaborately carved to represent one. The body is made from wood, often from the jackfruit tree, carved out of one piece and covered with a flat lid on the bottom which has sound holes and five short legs.

Crocodile Jakhee

To play the jakhee, the player tightly ties a large pick to their right index finger. The right hand rests against the body of the instrument and the hand rocks back-and-forth over the strings in an arc-shaped motion, plucking strings individually or strumming across all three. The pick is often made from hardwood, bone, ivory or ceramic. The instrument itself can be decorated in elaborate patterns with gold paint, mother-of-pearl, lighter colored wood trim, bone, white resin or ivory. It has two silk or nylon strings, tuned to Do and Sol, and one metal string tuned to Do an octave lower, and they are strung over a curved bridge that gives the instruments a buzzing timbre, similar the javari bridge on Indian instruments such as the sitar.


Supeena Insee Adler playing jakhee

Traditionally, a player sits with legs folded back to one side on the floor behind the instrument, but today it is common for the instrument to be elevated so the player may sit on a chair. The jakhee is often played as a solo instrument, but it is also found in classical ensembles, including the khrueang sai (stringed instruments) and mohoorii ensembles.

The stringed ensemble consists of one jakhee, one sau duang (two-stringed hardwood fiddle with python skin), one sau uu (two stringed fiddle with coconut shell body covered with cow skin), one khlui (wooden vertical flute), thoon-rammanna (a set of two drums), and ching (cymbals). It originated in the royal palace and is often used in entertainment settings, at schools, universities, communities, and temple festivals, and funerals.

The khrueangsai pii chawaa ensemble

The khrueangsai pii chawaa ensemble

Another, much rarer, kind of ensemble combines the small stringed instrument ensemble with quadruple-reed oboe and a pair of drums (klaung khaek). It is called khrueangsai pii chawaa, or stringed instrument ensemble with Javanese oboe. This ensemble is closely associated with royalty and plays both entertainment and ritual music, and was the subject of my Ph.D. dissertation at the University of California Riverside, entitled Music for the Few: Nationalism and Thai Royal Authority.

Want to see videos?

Supeena Insee Adler demonstrating the jakhee at UCLA. View here

Chin Kim Yai performed by Saharat Chanchalerm and orchestra at the Thai Cultural Center in Bangkok, Thailand. View here.

Thirty-five jakhee players perform at the funeral of their music teacher, khruu Thaungdii  Sujaritkul. View here

A khrueangsai pii chawaa ensemble performing at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. View here.

Supeena Insee Adler, Ph.D., is a lecturer at UCLA, ethnomusicologist, performer, and a volunteer Thai music teacher at the Thai Buddhist Temple in Escondido, California.

Máirtín de Cógáin

We warmly welcome Máirtín de Cógáin, who joins World Music in the Schools as a teaching artist in residence.

Máirtín de Cógáin-drumming-2Center for World Music artist in residence Máirtín de Cógáin is a singing, dancing, story-telling bodhrán (Irish frame drum) player, who also is a noted playwright and actor. He performs all over the United States, as well as in his native Ireland. An infectious personality, Máirtín pleasantly commands the attention of all audiences, from concert halls to intimate porches.

Descended from a long line of storytellers, Máirtín is the winner of two All-Ireland awards from Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann. He often tours with The Máirtín de Cógáin Project, The Fuchsia Band, or Gailfean. A true promoter of “the Ballad,” he searches for those forgotten songs of old and breathes new life into them, as well as writing some new songs of his own. Máirtín learned from many famous Irish singers such as Danni Maichi Ua Súilleabháin, Séamus Mac Mathúna, and Ciarán Dwyer. He is a fluent speaker of Irish (Gaelic) who was brought up in a bilingual home, and attended primary and secondary schools taught in Irish. Máirtín holds a degree in the Irish language from University College Cork.

Máirtín de Cógáin-drummingIf not on stage singing, storytelling, dancing, or playing the bodhrán, Máirtín is treading the boards as an actor, notably in the film The Wind that Shakes the Barley. He has co-written many productions with the Be Your Own Banana Theatre Company, recently playing De Bogman off-Broadway in New York.

Máirtín has been playing the bodhrán for many years, learning first from Eric Cunningham (The New De Danann) and later from Colm Murphy (The Old De Danann). Máirtín has taught bodhrán technique at the Catskills Irish Arts Week, Augusta Irish Week, as well as giving workshops at major U.S. festivals including the Kansas City Irish Fest, CelticFest Mississippi, Minnesota Irish Fair, and La Crosse IrishFest. He also gives private lessons in the San Diego area and along the road while touring.

Máirtín de Cógáin-dancing

A traditional brush dance with his father Barry Cogan

Growing up in a house full of dancing, Máirtín helped teach the steps at the family-run céilís (social gatherings) from an early age, and now teaches the folk dances of Cork to dancers everywhere.

Máirtín makes friends wherever he goes. In a very short time, de Cógáin has become a regular performer at some of the most prestigious Irish festivals in the U.S. Although he can often be found leading a tour group in Ireland, or entertaining guests on a traditional Irish music-themed cruise ship, he now spends most of his time in California, where he lives with his wife Mitra and their young son, who shows great promise as a dancer and bodhrán player himself.

Want to learn more about Máirtín and his career? Visit You can also catch him on YouTube telling a story or singing with friends.