We're pleased to bring you our newly revamped Beat of the Boroughs eNewsletter, keeping you apprised of CTMD's work as well as news from New York City's traditional music and dance scene. To support our work, please consider joining/renewing as a member or donating - click here to support CTMD!
The Pearl Beneath the Sea 
Wednesday, November 19, 8:00PM at Merkin Hall
The singing art is sea foam, the graceful movement comes from a pearl somewhere on the ocean floor. (Rumi) 

The Pearl Beneath the Sea is an exciting new collaboration between Ottoman Turkish singer Ahmet Erdogdular and Armenian-American oud virtuoso/composer Ara Dinkjian. The title refers to Rumi's meditation on movement as symbolic of universal harmony - the movement of melody, the circling dance of a whirling dervish, and the floating inks in water marbling can be seen to represent planetary orbits, the rotation of the earth, and the gyrations of life.

This innovative project highlights the multicultural nature of Ottoman heritage, capable of transcending contemporary conflicts through art. The artists will draw upon the compositions of Ottoman Turkish composer Ismail Dede Efendi (1778-1846) and his student, the Greek composer Nikos Aga (1835-1885). Erdogdular and Dinkjian will be joined by Ali Osman Erdogdular on ney (end-blown flute), and the program will highlight the dance of dervish Khadija Radin and projected images of beautiful ebru (water marbling) by Eda Ozbekkangay.
CTMD and the Center for Art, Tradition and Cultural Heritage (CATCH) are pleased to sponsor this presentation by Makam New York. At the Kaufman Music Center at Merkin Hall,129 West 67th Street on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Tickets $30, students/seniors $20Click here to reserve tickets. (8:00PM)


Verite Sou Tanbou Enters Its Fourth Programming Season!
VODOU = NATURE!  VST members gather with Prospect Park rara musicians at the Wall Street bull, prior to heading up to the People's Climate March in NYC, September 21st, 2014. Photo by Kesler Pierre.
Verite Sou Tanbou, the Haitian Community Cultural Initiative of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance (formerly known as "Ayiti Fasafas"), enters its fourth year of programming in 2015!  In the fall, the group has traditionally presented one or more stand-alone programs (such as the thought-provoking "One Island, Two Houses" symposium on Haitian rara / Dominican gaga musics and their sociocultural history at St. Francis College last October). VST's heaviest programming season runs from January through July, however. During this part of the year we have offered our now signature three-part series of programs, starting with Louvri Baryè (Opening the Gates) in 2012, Verite Sou Tanbou (Truths about Haitian Vodou) in 2013, and Vodou Is Nature programs in 2014. 

This fall, members of our planning group are once again gathering to brainstorm and build the next three-part series. This process involves reviewing video excerpts from our previous programs.  Reviewing the video helps us regenerate our appreciation for what we have already collectively achieved, and inspires us to come up with new ideas for programs which excite us all and help to advance our Mission (see below). So this fall, we invite you to join with us in reviewing some of the treasures in our Verite Sou Tanbou video archive! Click here for highlights from the music and dance program honoring internationally renowned Vodou priestess Mama Lola in July of 2013; this was the third event in the series we called "Verite Sou Tanbou (Truths about Haitian Vodou)."  Click here to enjoy highlights from the final program in the Louvri Baryè series in July of 2012: a five-ensemble dance tribute to the great pioneer of Haitian dance, Jean-Léon Destiné.
VST members and Prospect Park rara musicians rock the 1 train at Rector Street, on the way up to the People's Climate March line up.  Photo by Kesler Pierre.

MISSION STATEMENT: VERITE SOU TANBOU, a consortium of New York-based Haitian performing artists, cultural activists, and educators, is dedicated to presenting and promoting the rich variety and authentic origins of traditional Haitian music and dance forms, within the Haitian community and to a wider general audience. Through its programs, the Initiative challenges oppression, negative stereotypes, and prejudice toward Haitian culture; works to prevent the loss of cultural knowledge of Vodou/n; seeks to heal divisions within our communities; and educates all New Yorkers on the diversity, value, and beauty of Haitian traditional arts. 
FolkCOLOMBIA Welcomes Katherine Antequera

FolkCOLOMBIA welcomes its newest member, dancer Katherine Antequera.  Katherine is talented young woman with big dreams and aspirations. Born in Barranquilla, Colombia, Katherine came to the United States to pursue her dreams of teaching and performing Atlantic coastal dance traditions. Ever since Antequera was a small girl, her love of folk and modern dance has taken her many places, including the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Broadway Dance Center, Carnegie Hall, and the United Palace. 


Katherine has shared her knowledge of dance, giving classes and workshops in cumbia, bullerengue, porro and pasillo. 

One of her proudest moments was when she performed at the Carnaval de Barranquilla with "Cumbion de Oro",one of largest and most important festivals in Colombia. 


Antequera also brings to FolkCOLOMBIA an added dimension: Beauty. Participating in the tradition of Colombian beauty competitions, Katherine is a professional make-up artist, venturing into the world of fashion modeling, an arena where she also seeks to promote Colombian culture. In July of 2014, Katherine was invited to participate in ColombiaModa in Medellin, not only representing FolkCOLOMBIA, and the traditions which she wholeheartedly helps to preserve, but giving young students and new audiences an appreciation of the beauty that inspires Colombian dance. FolkCOLOMBIA Musica y Danza is very pleased to have Katherine the Colombian community cultural initiative and expects great things from this dedicated young artist.

Recent Publications

CTMD staff folklorist Eileen Condon, Ph.D. and Puerto Rican performer/researcher Raquel Z. Rivera collaborated to author the cover feature on the decimas tradition in the current issue of Voices, the Journal of the NY Folklore Society. 

CTMD staff ethnomusicologist Jorge Arevalo Mateus, Ph.D. recently had an article published on vallenato in NY by the American Music Review. 

We're delighted to announce the long-awaited release of the new CD by Ukrainian bandurist/singer Julian Kytasty and Yiddish singer/klezmer musician Michael AlpertNight Songs from a Neighboring Village, now available from Oriente Records. CTMD has presented Night Songs on a number of occasions, and helped to raise funds for its development. The CD was produced by Daniel Kahn, a wonderful Yiddish singer in his own right who we recently featured with his Brothers Nazaroff project. The two recently performed at special CD release event in Berlin. 

CTMD's Pete Rushefsky performs on tsimbl (cimbalom/hammered dulcimer) in the new DVD Rejoice, a concert program of Jewish cantorial music, Yiddish song and klezmer music that features violinist Itzhak Perlman, Cantor Yitzhok Meir Helfgot and the Klezmer Conservatory Band, directed by Hankus Netsky. The program recently aired on PBS's Great Performances, and was directed by Josh Waletzky.


CTMD's Kaisha Johnson Journeys Through Korea

CTMD Director of Touring Artists Kaisha S. Johnson recently had the unique opportunity to travel to Korea to study its cultural traditions, engage with its artists and witness its thriving performing arts scene. At the invitation of the Korean Ministry of Culture through the support of Korean Cultural Services New York, a government institution established to promote Korean culture and aesthetics in New York, Ms. Johnson was invited with the hopes of fostering greater cultural exchange between Korea and the United States. While in Korea she traveled to two major cities (and Gyeongju, an ancient village designated a UNESCO Heritage Site) and participated in two major performing arts conferences, the Asian-Pacific Arts Music Market (APaMM) held in Ulsan, and the Performing Arts Market in Seoul (PAMS).


Some of the various highlights of the trip included a behind-the-scenes tour of The National Gugak Center in Seoul, an institution dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional Korean music and dance; and participating in "Journey to Korean Music," an ancillary program of PAMS that was designed to help give conference participants a thorough overview of traditional Korean music complete with appropriate navigation through historic and cultural contexts.


Akin in size to New York City's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, The National Gugak Center houses three theaters, an education center, an administration building, a museum and a building solely for the rehearsal of its four resident companies - a court music orchestra, a folk music group, a dance theater and a contemporary gugak orchestra. Gugak, which literally means "national music" in Korean, seems to be a thriving art form, supported largely by the government but even more enthusiastically supported by everyday Koreans, as witnessed from a full house of passionate concert-goers on one particular evening.


The "Journey to Korean Music" was facilitated by longtime CTMD collaborator, Dr. Ju-Yong Ha, Professor of Ethnomusicology, and included both a lecture and performance series. The lectures helped contextualize the music that was to be heard and the performances, in their most authentic state, were realized in spaces and environments where this music was historically performed in Korea. Some of the traditions showcased included gagok, a traditional Korean vocal form characterized by its slow tempo and simple melody; sanjo, a solo instrumental form accompanied by drumming on the janggu; and sinawi, an instrumental form marked by improvisation derived from shaman music. These forms were transmitted by master musicians, virtuosos, in fact, of Korean traditional music and realized in various historic locations like Namsangol Hanok Village in Seoul, a complex of preserved houses used to give visitors a peek into how the upper class lived centuries before.


With her sights on expanding upon her work with the Korean artistic community in NYC (particularly through the spectacular New York-based Korean Performing Arts Center and its resident ensemble, Sounds of Korea), Kaisha's trip afforded her the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of Korea's artistic heritage and history. Heartfelt appreciation goes to the Korean Ministry of Culture and Korean Culture Services New York for making this cultural tour possible.

The Yiddish Song of the Week - 100,000 Views!
CTMD's An-sky Institute for Jewish Culture has presented the Yiddish Song of the Week blog since 1997. Edited by folklorist Itzik Gottesman (U. Texas-Austin), the blog has just reached 100,000 views, and we're amazed to see the distribution of viewers from countries around the world. While we're still waiting for Antarctica to tune in, the blog has reached every other continent - with viewers from over 100 countries. 

Featuring lyrics, translations, field recordings and extensive annotations, The Yiddish Song of the Week represents an important corpus of rare repertoire that is learned by students across Europe and North America, taught in major Yiddish folkarts workshops such as KlezKamp, KlezKanada and Yiddish Summer Weimar. 
Shout Outs!
Congratulations to Elder Edward Babb, who was recently honored by the United House of Prayer for his decades of services as leader of the church-based Sons of Thunder, a renowned "shout gospel" group. A long time featured artist of CTMD, Babb was honored by the National Endowment for the Arts with a prestigious National Heritage Fellowship Award in 1997. 

In the klezmer world - congratulations go to Zisl Slepovitch and the Litvakus ensemble for their new CD, Raysn: The Jewish Music of Belarus. We also give a shout out to Figelin - a unique group featuring NY's Deborah Strauss, and Berlin's Vanessa Vromans and Vivian Zeller that explores klezmer and North German fiddling - the trio recently completed their first performances in the US. CTMD presented both ensembles in well-attended concerts. 

Congrats to our dear friends Bill Bragin, who will be taking over as director of the  new performing arts center at NYU in Abu Dhabi, and to Karen Sander, who will be the new director of public programming at CUNY Graduate Center. 

We salute the Korean Performing Arts Center which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with a performance at Symphony Space. KPAC is home to the renowned Sounds of Korea ensemble (CTMD Touring Artists) led by NEA National Heritage Fellow Sue Yeon Park

Congrats to our long-time friend Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, who's directing the core exhibition at the Museum of the History of the Polish Jews in Warsaw, which just opened to the public with much international fanfare. 

In the media:  NY Times article on audiophile Christopher King's hunt for Greek Epirotika music (the music of Epirus in Northwestern Greece). A disturbing incident involving a subway musicians being arrested by the NYPD. Cellphones are helping to revitalize traditional music in India.
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