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Clinton Davis

Clinton Ross Davis: Steeped in Old-Time American Music

The Center for World Music’s World Music in the Schools is delighted to profile teaching artist Dr. Clinton Davis, who is cultivating the next generation of audiences for traditional American music in San Diego.

Clinton Davis is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and educator. He was born and raised in Kentucky and now lives in San Diego, California. A fifth-generation Kentuckian, Davis grew up in Carroll County with faint residues of old-time music lingering in the air. With guitar, banjo, fiddle, harmonica, mandolin, and piano, Clinton sifts through America’s musical past. With the G Burns Jug Band, Davis arranges music of country, blues, and jazz greats from before World War II for a five-piece ensemble. Their second album received a San Diego Music Award.

G Burns Jug Band

 

Clinton is an enthusiastic scholar and singer of American shape-note music, traveling to every corner of the country to sing these unique tunes of a cappella harmony with others. In the summers of 2013 and 2014, he toured the Sand Mountain region of Alabama. There, he immersed himself in singing that has existed as an unbroken tradition for over 150 years.

 

In 2015, Clinton became an official Deering Artist, partnering with the Deering Banjo Company and appearing in their catalog to showcase their Goodtime Americana line of banjos.

In 2016, Clinton earned his doctorate in music at the University of California, San Diego. He served as an associate instructor at UCSD, leading a survey course in American roots music.

Beginning in 2017, Clinton has presented a series of concerts called the Southern Pacific Sessions, featuring a variety of musicians performing traditional American music at Kalabash Music & Arts in the Bird Rock neighborhood of San Diego.

Clinton teaches private music lessons and leads middle school clawhammer-style banjo classes as a teaching artist for the CWM’s World Music in the Schools program.

If you want to catch Clinton performing, check out his upcoming gigs, along with a plethora of other gems on his website, www.clintonrossdavis.com.

Enjoy this YouTube video of Clinton performing Kenesaw Mountain Rag with G Burns Jug Band.

Sufi Raina

Sufi Raina, Teacher of Kathak Dance

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

Sufi Raina Headshot

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

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

Sufi Raina Dancing

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

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

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

Want to see more? Visit these links:

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

Claudia Lyra, Engaging Brazil’s Music, Movement, and Stories

Congratulations to Claudia Lyra, World Music in the Schools teaching artist, for earning a master’s degree in Dual Language Education from San Diego State University in 2017. Claudia has presented interactive assemblies and conducted artist-residencies for the CWM.

Claudia LyraClaudia Lyra is owner, artistic director, and teacher at BRaPA, Brazilian Portuguese and Arts, in San Diego, CA. Originally from São Paulo, Claudia grew up in the city of Londrina in southeastern Brazil. She has shared Brazilian culture in the United States since 2003.

Claudia’s teaching philosophy envisions fostering well-being and joyful learning through the arts. Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. While giving students awareness of the physical possibilities and limitations of the human body, it simultaneously serves as a vehicle for introducing them to the history and culture of Brazil. Capoeira, Brazilian traditional music, and storytelling are not just highly entertaining, Claudia believes, they are powerful tools for teaching. These art forms—regarded as cultural treasures by Brazilians—open young hearts and minds to the wonderful sounds, emotions, and values of the Brazilian culture through the appreciation and actual making of music.

With a bachelor’s degree in psychology in addition to her SDSU master’s degree, Claudia has developed arts integration programs in partnership with the San Diego Unified School District. More recently, she has worked within the Coronado Unified School District.

Claudia uses Brazilian cultural arts to help students develop critical thinking skills, plant seeds of self-worth and value, cultivate an appreciation of equality and promote important social skills to interact successfully with others.

Claudia Lyra with berimbauClaudia brings Brazilian cultural arts to audiences in schools and beyond, through her cultural assembly and residency programs called Nós de Chita. Nós de Chita offers cultural assemblies, live music performances and workshops focused on traditional Brazilian arts that incorporate key elements of the natural environment which promote awareness of climate change for students kindergarten through 4th grade.

Claudia penned a fascinating and informative article for the CWM on the Brazilian berimbau. Read the article and see her video demonstration here.  

 

 

 

Merja Soria

Merja Soria, Singing the Ancient Memories of Finland

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

Shalini Patnaik, Ambassador of Odissi Dance

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.

Máirtín de Cógáin

Máirtín de Cógáin, 21st Century Irish Storyteller

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 www.MairtinMusic.com. You can also catch him on YouTube telling a story or singing with friends.

 

Fandango at Eduardo's

Eduardo García, Building Community Through Son Jarocho

Professor Eduardo García, a member of the San Diego-based son jarocho group Son de San Diego, teaches in the School of Arts at California State University San Marcos. He is also, we are proud to say, a teaching artist for the Center for World Music’s World Music in the Schools program. He has delved deeply into the study of son jarocho, the traditional music, dance, and songs of Veracruz, Mexico. His focus includes the instruments, the style of music, and above all creating a safe place for learning music and building community.

cynthia-_-eduardo-garciaEduardo’s interest in son jarocho regional folk music was sparked by an immersive study trip to San Andrés Tuxtla, Veracruz, Mexico in 2002. His journey to the home of son jarocho inspired his study of the tradition, taking him through many varied experiences in community-based music.

He believes it is important for young people to have access to as many musical cultures as possible. This global arts-based approach to learning brings the world to his students, and broadens their perspectives and sensibilities.

This particular music of Veracruz—son jarocho, son abajeño, or música de cuerdas, as it is known in different areas of the Sotavento region—is important because at its core lies the central component of cultivating community. Whether playing, singing, or dancing, this music is not created as a solo venture: it is a shared social activity. The instruments, the call and response nature of the singing, and the communicative percussion of the dancing between singers and musicians, creates myriad social and musical interactions. It is a social music, and Eduardo has tried to remain true to this central aspect of son jarocho music as he continues his efforts to cultivate a similar musical community in the San Diego region.cwm-festival-5-13-son-jarocho

— Cynthia Carbajal, Teacher at Lexington Elementary School in El Cajon, CA and Teaching Artist for the CWM’s World Music in the Schools

Read more about Eduardo García’s contributions to San Diego and his bridge-building efforts through the musical tradition of son jarocho:  

Sharing Music Across the U.S.-Mexico Border’s Metal Fence, New York Times — May 29, 2016

Son Jarocho Creates Community on Both Sides of the Border, KPBS — May 30, 2012

 Wu Man Makes Pipa an Instrument of Change, San Diego Union Tribune — May 8, 2014.

Watch a video:

Wu Man and Son de San Diego collaboration at the Carlsbad Music Festival.

Alex Khalil

Alex Khalil: A Neurocomputational Ethnomusicologist (Yes, really!)

A Supercomputer Center is an unconventional place to find an ethnomusicologist. Yet, this is where we find Dr. Alex Khalil, an unconventional musician-scholar in whom the disjunct worlds of musicology and neural computation converge. This makes him, in a word, “eccentric.” No, not the “zany, frizzy-haired and absent-minded genius” type of eccentric. (Well, the “genius” likely applies, though Alex would deny it vehemently.) Rather, he is eccentric in that he makes a habit of pursuing those questions that carry him far beyond the comfortable center of any one world of standard practice or academic discipline.

Alex Khalil performing on gender wayang

Balinese Gender Wayang Performance, Seaport Village

Alex holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Music Composition and Performance from CalArts and a PhD with an emphasis in ethnomusicology from U.C. San Diego. He has spent more than twenty years conducting research on several Asian musics (primarily those of China, Japan, and Indonesia), speaks Mandarin and Indonesian, plays a host of traditional instruments (specializing in Balinese gamelan and Chinese guqin), and has worked extensively with the Center for World Music for over three decades, including stints as Executive Director and Teaching Artist in Residence. His current post? Project scientist at UCSD’s Institute for Neural Computation and research fellow for the Temporal Dynamics in Learning Center. How did this happen?

What may appear as a dramatic career shift is really a natural continuation, a fulfillment of Alex’s varied abilities and ideas that were sparked while he was teaching in the CWM’s Balinese gamelan program, which he established alongside Center founder Robert Brown back in 1999. In gamelan, rhythmic precision and tight group synchrony are vital. Gradually, Alex noticed that most children synchronized relatively easily, while a few struggled. “It clearly wasn’t for a lack of effort, nor did it correlate with their musical ability in anything other than rhythm. This was strange.” He later discovered that all of these struggling students also had attention deficits. Through further testing he established a definitive correlation between attention and rhythmic timing.  

Further study could show that musical practice might facilitate improvement, not just in musical timing but beyond gamelan and into interpersonal communication, which is also fundamentally rhythmic.

“Attention is dynamic, that is, changing in time, and so it is rhythmic in nature.” Alex believes that developing proficiency in music, especially rhythm, may improve communication skills in children with ADHD or ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), and perhaps even for all children. His road from the classroom to scientific research has been a long and difficult one, but it is starting to pay off. Recently, he and partnering institutions were awarded a substantial grant from the National Science Foundation (Science of Learning Center) to further study synchrony in group brain dynamics. “If the hypothesis is true,” he says, “we have an army of skilled music teachers who can offer help.”

“We tend to wonder what happens when music is included in cognitive development, but a musical brain is a normal brain . . . and music just isn’t in our lives in the same ways it used to be.”

Alex Khalil embodies the heart of what the CWM promotes in its youth education program, World Music in the Schools: we solve problems better when we are skilled at listening and acting across the boundaries between cognitive worlds, even those that seem so stubbornly divergent as “science” and “the arts.” Something as seemingly simple as learning an unfamiliar musical style can, in a sense, make us bilingual. Nine-year old Olivia, a gamelan student from The Museum School, makes this crystal-clear when she says that “it’s fun to learn another culture’s music because then you can kind of speak with them, in a way.” You’re right Olivia!  

Cultural fluency can be fun, and, as Alex demonstrates, it can also provide a lens for viewing and solving old problems in new ways.

alexkhalil-1200x627

Japanese Shakuhachi Performance, USD

Speaking of cultural fluency, can you guess Alex’s central passion since childhood? It’s unlikely that Byzantine chant came to mind. But for Alex, who still frequently performs as a cantor in a Greek Orthodox Church in San Diego, this is not just another thing he does. Just as gamelan rhythms might improve communication skills, on a cognitive level our various activities don’t stay in neat compartments as we might expect.

The many worlds in which we participate converge, integrate, and become the world we know.

As we depart the supercomputer center where we found Alex Khalil, our world has already grown. But it also imparts a question, really a personal challenge: how will you expand your horizons today?

Read an article written by Alex on the value of music education for kids for The Smithsonian’s Museum of Asian Art here.

Learn more about the CWM’s World Music in the Schools gamelan program at the Museum School here.

—James Gutierrez, Center for World Music Board Member

Nomsa Burkhardt, Teaching the Traditional Music of the Zulu and Xhosa Peoples of South Africa

The Center for World Music would like to welcome back Nomsa Burkhardt to our family of outstanding teaching artists in residence, rejoining our World Music in the Schools program.

Update: Congratulations to Nomsa Burkhardt, Teaching Artist for the World Music in the Schools program, for winning a grant from Rising Arts Leaders San Diego to attend the Teaching Artist Institute.

Born in Soweto, Center for World Music distinguished teaching artist Nomsa Burkhardt is an extraordinary South African musician and dancer. She spent her formative years in KwaZulu, Natal, a region famous for its rich Zulu heritage and culture. There, she studied various traditional dance styles with master dancers, such as Indlamu, ukuQhobosha, and ukuSina. After immigrating to Philadelphia, she co-founded the African dance troupe HIMOSHA. Her artistic skills and passion for dance quickly propelled her into serving as both the director and lead choreographer for the troupe for seven years. She collaborated with well-known Philadelphia-based South African multi-instrumentalist and artist Mogauwane Mahloele at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Walt Whitman Cultural Arts Center, and at many universities and schools. She also performed and conducted workshops annually at the Philly Dance Africa Project. In 2000 she returned to South Africa to study with the accomplished ethnomusicologist Prof. Meki Nzewi at the University of Pretoria. Upon her return to the USA in 2004, she joined the Grammy-nominated South African band Sharon Katz & The Peace Train. As part of the Peace Train Project at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, Nomsa was instrumental in developing a teacher-training program that focused on South African history and conducted a series of educational performances. Nomsa has toured throughout the USA, South Africa, Israel, Italy, and Germany. She is the co-founder of IZINDE, an Afro-fusion band composed of performing artists from around the world.


RALSD LogoUnder the sponsorship of the Center for World Music, Nomsa was selected in September 2017 to participate in the Teaching Artist Institute, a professional development program offered by Arts for Learning San Diego, an affiliate of Young Audiences/Arts for Learning. For a working musician who collaborates with schools as a teaching artist, this program is of tremendous value. Nomsa was awarded a Virgil Yalong matching grant from Rising Arts Leaders San Diego to support her participation in the Teaching Artist Institute.


 

Nomsa Burkhardt at Garfield Elementary

Nomsa Burkhardt at Garfield Elementary

Nomsa is a distinguished teaching artist for Center for World Music’s NEA-funded hands-on schools program. Her student-centered curriculum exceeds California arts standards by bringing joy and heartfelt fun into San Diego classrooms, while addressing core learning outcomes. Through the study of the traditional music and dance of South Africa, Nomsa’s classes focus on the importance of history and culture in the creation of music, the use of musical instruments, and the expression of community unity and collaboration through the performing arts. Students learn the geographical origins of musical instruments, increasing their global awareness and providing them with a global context to the music and dance of Zulu and Xhosa cultures. Nomsa integrates the science of making musical instruments in her program, and her students enjoy a diversity of music-making through singing and games that involve stories and simple songs, enhancing the connections to other disciplines such as literacy and math.

World Music in the Schools and the children of San Diego are fortunate to have Nomsa Burkhardt spreading joy and understanding through the traditional music and dance of South Africa.

Maluju – Stop Xenophobia By Nomsa

Video of Nomsa teaching South African Zulu Music and Dance

Mark Lamson: Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian Drumming

The Center for World Music would like to recognize Mark Lamson for his  dedication as an outstanding teaching artist in residence for World Music in the Schools.

Mark LamsonCenter for World Music teaching artist Mark Lamson is a highly acclaimed percussionist, ensemble director, recording artist, producer, educator, and one of San Diego’s best-recognized authorities on Cuban and Brazilian drumming and percussion. As a valued instructor in our World Music in the Schools program, he has taught the exciting rhythms of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian drumming, communicating concepts in music, math, collaboration, and culture to hundreds of San Diego school children in his classes.

Mark has seven recordings and countless performances to his credit. He is known for his professionalism, expertise, and experience in playing a broad range of musical styles, and for assembling ensembles featuring top-notch talent. While Mark’s repertoire includes R&B, rock, Latin jazz, New Orleans brass band, funk, and hip hop, his true passion lies in fusing the popular and traditional music of Brazil and Cuba, with modern American and Latin American styles.

Based in San Diego, California, Mark is the director and lead percussionist for Sol e Mar, a dynamic Brazilian/Latin music collective which he co-founded in 1985. Sol e Mar can deploy anywhere from 3 to 50 performers, ranging from a bossa nova jazz trio to a full drum bateria replete with Brazilian samba dancers in full Carnaval regalia. In 1994, Sol e Mar won “Best Latin Band” at the Second Annual San Diego Music Awards.

Mark Lamson at Bird RockMark is an adjunct faculty member at San Diego State University and has also taught at Santa Clara University in San Jose, California, at California State University Long Beach, and at Palomar College. He is a sought-after workshop leader and lecturer, and has been invited to teach and speak at institutions of learning across the United States and around the world.

Check out Mark’s website at http://marklamson.com/.

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