Teaching Artist Matthew Clough-Hunter

The Center for World Music is delighted to profile World Music in the Schools teaching artist Matthew Clough-Hunter.

Matthew Clough-Hunter is a Los Angeles-based performer, composer, and educator who specializes in several Balinese gamelan traditions including angklung, gong kebyar, gendèr wayang, gambuh, kecak, and gamut. He is a member of several gamelan ensembles based in Southern California: Burat Wangi, a community-based gamelan at CalArts directed by I Nyoman Wenten; Merdu Kumala, a community-based gamelan directed by Hirotaka Inuzuka that teaches gamelan workshops and performs throughout the country; Giri Kusuma, a gong kebyar ensemble affiliated with Pomona College; and Sekaa Gambuh, an ensemble that specializes in an ancient repertoire played with meter-long bamboo flutes.

Recently, Matthew taught gamelan at Opus 6 (a summer camp program organized by the Santa Monica Youth Orchestra), participated in Performing Indonesia at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., and performed with renowned Indonesian guitarist Balawan.

Matthew earned an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in World Music with a focus on Indonesian music and composition, and a BFA from Denison University in Music Performance on jazz guitar. Outside of his work in the realm of gamelan, Matthew enjoys songwriting and performing. His songs can be found under the artist name “Cloudhopper” on streaming sites such as Spotify. Music composition, performance, and education are among the strongest driving forces in Matthew’s life, and he feels “so happy when [he] can excite someone about the possibilities of their input in music.”

Matthew Clough-Hunter and Hirotaka Inuzuka performing gender wayang

Gamelan Merdu Kumala performing at the 2022 Balinese Gamelan Festival in Colorado

Idrissa Bangoura: Drumming, Song, and Movement from Guinea

Idrissa Bangoura was born in the Mande region of Guinea and is part of the Susu culture group of West Africa. He speaks Susu, French, and English. Coming from a family of performers, he first learned djembe drumming from his two older brothers, Bengaly and Mohamed. The latter were both soloists for the Ballet Africain de Guinée, based in Conakry, the capital of Guinea. From them, Idrissa learned about proper playing techniques, drum repair, and goat-skin drum head replacement. They also introduced him to the traditional rhythms of Guinea and gave him the knowledge, techniques, and insight necessary to truly enjoy playing the djembe, among the most sophisticated rhythm instruments of Africa. 

In addition to being a skillful percussionist, Idrissa is an accomplished athlete and acrobat, formally trained at the Keita Fodeba Centre for Acrobatic Arts, also located in Conakry. He has worked as an instructor, performing artist, dancer, and acrobat, and has toured with the prestigious Montreal, Canada-based equestrian performing company Cavalia in their show Odysseo, which highlights a diverse cast of acrobats, aerialists, riders, and horses from all over the world.

Based in San Diego since 2017, Idrissa teaches acrobatic arts to children and frequently performs with the Fern Street Circus, a local community circus for underserved youth. In the fall of 2021, he joined the CWM’s World Music in the Schools program as a distinguished teaching artist. Students at the Monarch School in San Diego’s Barrio Logan neighborhood and at Bird Rock Elementary in La Jolla have been happily immersed in traditional djembe drumming, song, and movement under Idrissa’s able guidance. The Monarch School program is being funded by the Jason Mraz Foundation and Macy’s Foundation.

Because of his diverse training and performance background, Idrissa is able to incorporate aspects of song, movement, dance, and instrumental music performance that offer students in our World Music in the Schools program a view of the culture and the language of the Susu people of Guinea. Idrissa’s passion for teaching is driven by the excitement his students express in learning about cultural traditions and the history of his native country. 

We are delighted and proud to have Idrissa Bangoura on our roster of distinguished teaching artists.

Learn more on Idrissa Bangoura’s website.  Here’s a YouTube video of Idrissa and daughter Adama performing for the San Diego Unified School District and the Fern Street Circus.

Kaylie Kirby: A Full Circle Experience

Student Kaylie in Museum School class (back right)

In 1999, Kaylie took her first class in Balinese gamelan and dance at Museum School in San Diego. It was a new charter school with a new vision: to incorporate music and other creative arts—seen as fundamental to child development—into the standard curriculum. The Museum School reached out to the Center for World Music (CWM) for help. It was the very first year of the CWM’s youth education program, World Music in the Schools, and the beginning of what would become some of the organization’s most rewarding work: matching accomplished and experienced teaching artists to residency programs within San Diego area K–12 schools.

Kaylie Kirby was in 5th grade when the Balinese gamelan program was initiated at Museum School, where she studied under I Nyoman Sumandhi (music) and Ni Putu Sutiati (dance), and later Alex Khalil (music) and Kaori Okado (dance). Training in music and dance was offered to students at Museum School, which at the time included 3rd through 6th grade. There was also an after-school program for intermediate and advanced students. Kaylie thrived in this program, taking lessons during school hours and participating in the after-school program during her years attending Museum School.

Kaylie with daughter

Upon graduation from 6th grade, Kaylie continued her involvement with the Museum School’s gamelan and dance program by attending weekly rehearsals after school. Alex and Kaori had created a performing group with the advanced students called Puspa Warsa, in which Kaylie had the opportunity to perform for numerous universities, festivals, and news stations all over Southern California for several years. Throughout this time, she continued to assist with the intermediate students’ after-school program at the Museum School. She also had the opportunity to study under other Balinese masters, including Dr. I Nyoman Wenten, renowned Balinese performing arts director at CalArts and UCLA. In 2018–19, she was a member of the Balinese gamelan anklung ensemble at the University of San Diego, directed by Dr. David Harnish. 

Fast forward to today; Kaylie’s daughter is currently a kindergarten student at Museum School and a member of their Balinese gamelan program, now in its 22nd year. We are excited to welcome Kaylie, as she shares her expertise and passion for Balinese arts as a teaching artist of the gamelan ensemble at Museum School!

This is a true full-circle story that humbly reminds us that the work we do and have been doing for decades in the CWM’s World Music in the Schools program is valuable, important, and to many, life-changing.

Welcome back, Kaylie!

Kristina Cunningham: Teaching Ballet Folklorico in San Diego Schools

The Center for World Music is thrilled to welcome Kristina Cunningham to the roster of talented teaching artists in our World Music in the Schools program. She is currently sharing the beauty of ballet folklorico with students at Monarch School, a program funded by the Jason Mraz and Macy’s Foundations.

Kristina is a first-generation American of Mexican descent. She first experienced ballet folklorico while attending a rehearsal at her neighborhood church in Barrio Logan at the age of three. Even then, she was mesmerized by the dancers, and soon began lessons with Ballet Folklorico de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. She continued studying and performing with this same troupe all through grade school. During college, Kristina expanded her repertoire by extensively studying West African dance, hip-hop, ballet, and modern dance.

Kristina Cunningham. Photo by Sue Brenner Photography.

Kristina is currently the Director of DanzArts Children’s Academy, a division of DanzArts, a non-profit dance school based in Liberty Station. She has also served as principal dancer for over 10 years with DanzArts Sabor Mexico Dance Co, where she has performed at Southern California venues including Copley Symphony Hall, Balboa Theater, and Cerritos Performing Arts Center. In addition, she performs annually with Grammy-nominated Mariachi Sol de Mexico. She continues to refine her craft by training with folklorico masters, including Joel Gutierrez, and attending master artist workshops such as Danzantes Unidos.

Kristina truly loves teaching dance to the youth in our community. Her own children are currently studying ballet folklorico and Spanish flamenco and she is proud to often have them share the stage with her.

Kristina brings decades of dance experience and expertise to San Diego school students through World Music in the Schools. The joy she brings to children’s faces as they learn ballet folklorico is unforgettable. Please help us welcome her to the Center for World Music.

Juan Carlos Blanco: Afro-Cuban Music and Dance

The Center for World Music is delighted to profile World Music in the Schools teaching artist Juan Carlos Blanco.

Juan Carlos is an inspiring dancer/teacher whose creativity and knowledge is internationally noted. He is also a humble man and world class performer.

—Dolores Fisher, Educator, Blogger, Poet, Pianist

In his exuberant Afro-Cuban movement and music classes, Juan Carlos Blanco enjoys transmitting cultural knowledge of his ancestors through engaging community activities that focus energy and express joy. It’s hard not to have a smile on your face and a bounce in your step when visiting his classroom. At the same time, his teaching is not only about fun. Whether it’s dancing or drumming, for him it is also important to take the time to explain and convey historical and cultural context. This, he believes, allows students to gain a well-rounded appreciation of the new skills and art form(s) they are learning.

Juan Carlos was born and raised in Havana, Cuba, where he performed with several professional companies for over 15 years before coming to the U.S. In his youth, he began his performance career with the folkloric arts groups Cumballe and Oba Ilú in his hometown of Guanabacoa, a community of Havana known for its rich Afro-Cuban cultural traditions. He later joined one of Cuba’s most renowned folkloric companies, Raices Profundas (Deep Roots), soon becoming lead male dancer and soloist and touring Latin America and Asia.

Juan Carlos’s desire to deepen his knowledge and cultural expression inspired his involvement with several diverse art groups in Havana. He performed with Teatro de la Havana in a number of theatrical plays including “De Mi Tierra Vengo,” “Maria Antonia,” “Santa Camila de la Havana Vieja,” and “Requip por Yarini” with Arte Popular Theatre Company. He also spent several years working with the Franco-Haitian company Ban Rra Rrá as percussionist and instructor of Afro-Cuban dance.

While in Cuba, he was charged with the responsibility of training both professional Cuban dancers and educating foreign students through the Instituto Superior de Arte and the Escuela Nacional de Arte. He served as artistic director for the folkloric ensemble Arawe that toured Peru in 1997. He also choreographed several productions in Havana, including Afro-Peru, a collaboration with Peruvian singer Argelia Fragoso, and “Trilogia,” produced with Raices Profundas.

Since coming to the United States, Mr. Blanco has been featured in various Afro-Cuban productions in the California area, as dancer and guest choreographer for groups such as Olorun, Alafia, and Taifa. Most recently was the musical director for Onstage Playhouse’s 2021 production of “A People’s Cuban Christmas Tale.

In 1998 Juan Carlos founded Omo Aché Cuban Cultural Arts, a San Diego-based organization dedicated to preserving and presenting Cuba’s rich cultural heritage of music and dance. With Mr. Blanco as its artistic director, the Omo Aché Afro-Cuban Music and Dance Company performs in schools, universities, and multi-cultural venues throughout California.

 

Juan Carlos Blanco in class at Integrity Charter School, National City, CA

 

Mr. Blanco has traveled throughout the United States teaching master workshops in Afro-Cuban percussion and dance. In the San Diego area, he has taught through community classes and institutions such as UCSD, Palomar College, Grossmont College, San Diego City College, and Cal State San Marcos. For many years, he has dedicated himself to teaching kindergarten through 8th-grade students at King-Chavez schools as well as students in the Sweetwater Union High School District. In Tijuana, Juan Carlos has also taught percussion and dance to elementary students at Escuela Primaria Miguel Guerrero, Primaria Guadalupe Victoria, and other schools through WorldBeat Center’s bi-national cultural exchange partnership program with I.M.A.C. (Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura). His students have presented their work at community celebrations and festivals throughout the region.

Currently, under the auspices of the CWM’s World Music in the Schools program, Juan Carlos is teaching a residency in Afro-Cuban dance at the San Diego French American School. We are proud to have him in our roster of distinguished teaching artists.

Enjoy this glimpse into Juan Carlos’s life as an artist, a rough cut of a documentary by Lili Bernard:

Laurel Grinnell-Wilson: Bringing Javanese Gamelan to San Diego Students

The Center for World Music is delighted to profile World Music in the Schools teaching artist Laurel Grinnell-Wilson.

Laurel in the gamelan room at SDSU

Originally from Northern California, Laurel has been an avid musician since childhood. After exploring the piano, flute, and violin, she started on the drum set when she was 15, playing in her first band with her brother, San Diego bassist Justin Grinnell.

Laurel graduated from Sonoma State University, earning her BA cum laude in jazz performance studies. While teaching and working freelance for several years, she discovered a passion for world music, bringing together her love of anthropology and her love of music. She went on to earn her M.A. in ethnomusicology with honors at San Diego State University.

Laurel and son Cedar with Pak Djoko Walujo and his wife, Ibu Endang

Laurel has studied Balinese, Sundanese, and Javanese gamelan, performing in Indonesia and throughout Southern California. Since 2007, she has been training intensively under the guidance of renowned gamelan composer, performer, and teacher Djoko Walujo Wimboprasetyo. Laurel has also studied West African drumming, Senegalese kora, as well as Zimbabwean mbira and marimba. With a deep interest in the ways in which cultural-linguistic context and music inform each other, she continues to broaden her expertise in ethnomusicology. 

Currently, Laurel is a lecturer and director of the Javanese gamelan ensemble at San Diego State University. In her role as a World Music in the Schools teaching artist, she serves as assistant director of Canyon Crest Academy’s Javanese gamelan ensemble, supporting the director, her mentor and CWM master teaching artist Pak Djoko. In addition, she continues to perform as a freelance jazz artist and as percussionist for musical theater productions and the San Diego Women’s Choir. She has appeared with artists such as Allison Adams Tucker, Lori Bell, Steph Johnson, and Monette Marino.

When she’s not performing or teaching music, Laurel is a mother to two children and an artisan soap maker

Here’s a short YouTube clip of Laurel playing bonang barung with the SDSU Javanese gamelan, accompanying dancer Casey Lee Sims:

— Contributor Evan Ludington is a student at Canyon Crest Academy and an intern for the Center for World Music.

Bernard Ellorin

Bernard Ellorin: Scholar and Teacher of the Music of the Philippines

Bernard Ellorin, Ph.D., Center for World Music teaching artist and board member, is much loved and highly respected as a cultural treasure and leader within the Southern California Filipino community and beyond.

Dr. Ellorin is the leading expert on maritime Southeast Asian gong-chime music in Southern California. He is also a master of the Filipino banduria (a version of the Spanish bandurria, a plucked string instrument similar to the mandolin) and the associated rondalla music. He is versed in the percussion music of the Cordillera Mountains of Northern Luzon, as well as being one of the few Philippine kulintang instructors in the United States. Kulintang is an ancient instrumental form of music played on a row of small, horizontally laid gongs that function melodically, accompanied by larger, suspended gongs and drums. Dr. Ellorin has served the San Diego and Los Angeles communities as a performing artist and educator since 1992, and is the musical director of the Samahan Filipino-American Performing Arts and Education Center.

Kulintang Ensemble

Bernard Ellorin leads his kulintang ensemble. Photo Jonathan Parker

He began his studies in the music of the Philippines at the age of ten, as a young banduria musician with Samahan Performing Arts. At age twelve he commenced kulintang studies with native Maguindanao master artist Danongan Kalanduyan. More recently, he has studied under a number of other master artists from the Philippines, with whom he maintains ongoing professional relationships, thereby keeping up-to-date in contemporary cultural developments.

Photo courtesy of Kingsley Ramos

Ellorin received a BA degree in Ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles and earned his MA and Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii, Manoa. In 2003, along with a few of his friends and colleagues in San Diego, he founded the Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble (PKE), which he now directs. Through PKE, he presents educational workshops for San Diego schools and youth groups. His knowledge and dedication to the proliferation of Maguindanao and Maranao music also enables him to act as a valued resource for many university Filipino cultural organizations. He continues to teach in the San Diego area as a lecturer and faculty member at Miramar and MiraCosta Colleges.

In 2012, Ellorin was awarded a research fellowship under the Fulbright Research and Study Abroad program, during which time he conducted a comparative study on the musical culture of the Sama-Bajau in Semporna District in the Malaysian state of Sabah, and in Batangas City, Philippines. He has subsequently written several scholarly papers on Sama-Bajau performing arts, and also serves as a consultant to Filipino-American diaspora performing arts groups throughout the US. He is now a three-time grant recipient with the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) through their Apprenticeship and Living Cultures program.

Ellorin has been a teaching artist with the Center for World Music since 2016, and became a member of the Center’s Board of Directors in 2020. 

Contributor Kim Kalanduyan is Dr. Ellorin’s former apprentice under the ACTA apprenticeship program, and is the granddaughter of Maguindanao master artist Danongan Kalanduyan.

For more reading about Bernard Ellorin and his teaching, performance, and research:

A Journey Home: Kulintang Music from San Diego to Mindanao

A Career in “Roots” Music from Positively Filipino Magazine

Lakshmi Basile: Flamenco Dancer

The Center for World Music is delighted to welcome Lakshmi Basile to our family of outstanding teaching artists in residence, joining our World Music in the Schools program.

Lakshmi Basile, nicknamed “La Chimi” by her peers, is a flamenco dancer and performer of the highest level. To watch her in motion is an enchanting experience as she enters an almost trance-like state, becoming one with the music. It’s clear the dance is coming from somewhere deep inside of her, connecting to ancestral spirits and roots that are impossible to describe with words. They have a word for this in Flamenco: duende. Those who have been in the audience or have clapped palmas around the fire while Lakshmi dances know what a magical experience it can be.

Offstage, Lakshmi is down-to-earth and laughs easily. It’s inspiring to see how she takes a dance that can be intimidating for many and breaks it down in a fun and engaging way for her students. Her passion and expertise gently guide her lessons in a way that’s accessible for all, no matter the age or experience.

But who is this ethereal artist, and where did she come from?

Photo: Paco Sanchez

Lakshmi Basile began performing at the age of six with her parents’ band The Electrocarpathians. She grew up in a bohemian household filled with music and dance with her father, a prominent San Diego musician, and her mother, an artist from Argentina. She studied dance at the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts, the University of California Santa Barbara, and within the flamenco community of San Diego, finally traveling to Spain at the age of 20 to complete her flamenco studies. She was quickly embraced by artists and teachers, and found work in tablaos and at private flamenco events alongside well-known artists.

“La Chimi” became one of the first and only foreign artists in Spain to win a coveted national prize, the Concurso de las Minas de La Unión, and she was also awarded the Concurso Nacional de Arte Flamenco de Córdoba. There she surprised flamenco critics, and received high praise from Alberto García Reyes, ABC, who described her performance as “un desgarrador homenaje a los románticos de lo jondo” (a heart-wrenching homage to the romantics of pure flamenco).

Before returning to San Diego, Lakshmi worked for over fifteen years in Seville, the cradle of flamenco, where she performed daily as a soloist at the tablao El Palacio Andaluz. She has worked alongside significant artists in private events and festivals internationally, including Great Britain, Denmark and Uruguay, and produced her own show in Spain called “Zarabanda, Lo Que Duerme en el Cuerpo de los Gitanos” (Zarabanda, What Sleeps in the Body of the Gypsies).

She is sought after as a teacher by flamenco students in Spain and the United States, and we are very fortunate to have her teach and perform in San Diego. Lakshmi Basile has found her purpose and career as a flamenco dancer because that is what she is in her soul and heart.

Photo: Sari Makki-Phillips

“Su baile es de una alegría conquistada” (Her dance is one of conquered joy). — Félix Grande, poet and flamencologist

“La única cosa americana que tiene es su pasaporte”  (The only American thing she has is her passport). — Ángel Ojeda, former Minister of Culture of the Junta de Andalucía

Welcome, Lakshmi, to our Center for World Music family! We are so delighted and honored to have you join us.

See a preview video of Lakshmi’s Living Room Learning dance lesson

Visit Lakshmi’s flamenco dance website

Cindy Carbajal Brings the Music and Culture of Mexico to Children

The Center for World Music’s World Music in the Schools program is delighted to profile teaching artist Cindy Carbajal.

A teacher for over 20 years, Cindy Carbajal has worked with a broad range of students in San Diego, from kindergarteners in City Heights to university students at UCSD. She has spent the majority of her teaching career in elementary school, where she loves to incorporate music and dance, most especially that of Mexico, into her physical education, math, science, social studies, and language arts classes.

Cindy has taught ballet folklórico classes for over 15 years. Since 2010, she has been playing Son Jarocho music and has traveled to Veracruz to study the music and dance forms of that musical tradition.  She frequently performs with the ensemble Son de San Diego, collaborating with CWM teaching artists Cristina Juárez and Eduardo García. Cindy also enjoys teaching the jarana—a small, guitar-like instrument important in Son Jarocho—as well as Jarocho vocal music and dance. She enjoys the community that both ballet folklórico and Son Jarocho have afforded her and hopes to participate in formal and informal playing of Son music for the rest of her life.

Since 2016, Cindy has presented school assemblies and taught summer camps and artist residencies for the Center for World Music.

Cindy Carabal (dancing on the tarima) teaching summer school students at Johnson Elementary School in July 2019

Cindy Carabal (right) performing with Son de San Diego at Albert Einstein Charter Elementary in February 2017

See also Eduardo García, Building Community Through Son Jarocho.

Shibani Patnaik: Odissi is My Life, My Love

Shibani Patnaik is one of the leading United States-born Odissi classical dancers of her generation. She has taught Odissi, an Indian classical dance form, through the Center for World Music’s Odissi Dance School in California since 2003. As the daughter of Dr. Purna and Mrs. Gopa Patnaik, Shibani embarked on her dance journey at an early age. Her parents have been committed to the preservation and promotion of Indian classical arts for the past thirty years through the Center for World Music, providing many opportunities for their three daughters to immerse themselves in classical dance and music. Because of the support of her parents and the encouragement and rigorous training by her mentors, Shibani is flourishing as one of the leading dancers of her generation. She is an energetic artist with a strong technical background who strikes the perfect combination of power and grace.

Odissi requires perseverance, precision and performance; it is not merely a form of entertainment, but also a method through which the artist strives to forge a deep spiritual connection with the audience. Shibani believes art and music bring people of diverse cultures together by providing cultural understanding in a harmonious environment. Through dance, Shibani strives to express deep feelings and emotions, universal to humanity. Shibani is dedicated to the diffusion of the message of peace and compassion through her artistic expression.

Shibani has made frequent visits to India to study under internationally acclaimed Gurus Padmashree Gangadhar Pradhan, Aruna Mohanty, Manoranjan Pradhan and Yudhistir Nayak from the Orissa Dance Academy. Her gurus have also lived with the Patnaik family in San Diego for extended periods of time, helping Shibani master the techniques of Odissi. Shibani frequently tours with the Orissa Dance Academy. She completed a solo North America multi-city tour in 2012, presenting her own work Samsara: The Cycle Of Life.

India - Odissi Dance Video LinkShibani was awarded the 2006 Devadasi award in Orissa. Shibani and her sisters Shalini and Laboni, “The Patnaik Sisters,” have been honored with the Kalashree Award by the Orissa Society of Americas for their contribution to the arts. The California Arts Council has awarded a Next Generation Artists grant to Shibani for new choreographies. She has performed in prestigious venues throughout India, including the 2007 Konark Dance Festival and at the Ravi Shankar Institute in New Delhi. In 2008, she performed at the International Stirring Odissi Festival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Shibani and her sisters contributed their Odissi-style choreography to productions by pop stars Madonna (1998 MTV Video Music Awards) and Ricky Martin (2007), performances seen by millions around the world. Stanford University presented Shibani with the 2001 Asian-American Performing Arts Award and the Chapell-Lougee Scholarship to conduct research in Orissa. Under her leadership, the Stanford University Dance department began offering Indian classical dance courses in 2002, where she taught the first course on Odissi.

Shibani has been featured in numerous US and Indian publications, such as Dance Magazine of New York, Yoga Journal, Hinduism Today, India Today, InStyle, and Bazaar. She is an active member of the Board of Directors of the Center for World Music.

See a video of Shibani’s performance in the virtual Udayraga Festival of Dance in August, 2020, presented by the Indo American Association, Houston in collaboration with Orissa Dance Academy.

To learn more, please visit Shibani’s website.