Lewis Peterman in Bali

Professor Lewis Peterman, Longtime Contributor

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, Former Odissi Student and Principal of Hawking STEAM Charter Elementary

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, Volunteer and Donor

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.