To understand the full story that inspired the beginnings of Cultures in Harmony, please read A Message from Our Founder.
In 2010, Cultures in Harmony sent pianist and oboist Allegra Boggess to Kabul, Afghanistan, for a two-week residency atAfghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM), founded by Dr. Ahmad Sarmast. While in Afghanistan, Allegra made observations about music practice at ANIM, helped students improve their practice habits, and wrote a detailed report containing recommendations to practice monitors about how to improve the effectiveness of their supervision of student practice. Also an accomplished oboist, Allegra performed as a guest artist with the Afghan Youth Orchestra for His Excellency Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; members of the Afghan Cabinet; and His Excellency Karl Eikenberry, Ambassador of the United States. She blogged about her time in Afghanistan here.
In 2009, we partnered with the Cameroon Nigeria Youth Movement (CNYM) to conduct a project, called “A Forward-Looking Spirit,” that helped youth from Cameroon and Nigeria come together in celebration of their musical heritage, thereby demonstrating to both countries the potential inherent in peaceful cooperation. Over the course of two weeks in Cameroon, CiH Musicians learned and performed Cameroonian and Nigerian music alongside local musicians and presented outreach concerts at schools and orphanages. The project culminated in a gala cultural exchange concert, broadcast on national TV, and held at Orlu Palace in the Nkomkana neighborhood of Yaoundé.
Juntos con Vecinos, our project in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, also conducted activities in the Dominican Republic, which served to further connect the Dominican and non-Dominican communities back in Washington Heights. Rosanna Morillo, sister of Juntos con Vecinos co-founder Dr. Jorge Piña, coordinated the 2009 activities of William Harvey. He gave an outreach concert at Villa Bendicion and was a guest on Freddy y Punto, the most-watched TV program in the country. A big article about Juntos con Vecinos and Cultures in Harmony appeared in Clave, the leading weekly news magazine there. Dr. Piña arranged for William to meet with Juan Freddy Armando, a renowned poet. In August 2009, Juntos con Vecinos piano teacher Irene Wong attended a poetry retreat in the Dominican Republic with Dr. Piña. In January 2010, William returned to the Dominican Republic for the third time.
In 2009, we partnered with the US Embassy to bring CiH to Cairo and Alexandria. The project began with a concert for and reception with Ambassador Margaret Scobey and invited guests at her residence. We gave a workshop at El Sawy Culture Wheel for students from the Valuable Girl Project. A concert at El Sawy conclude the first of our two stays in Cairo.
In Alexandria, we went to the Egyptian Family Planning Association (EFPA) for daily, three-hour composition creation workshops with about thirty low-income girls ages 10 to 14. In addition to these workshops, we gave master classes for young musicians and rehearsed with local musicians at the Alexandria Opera House. We also gave an outreach concert at the Village of Hope, which assists youth with special needs. Our stay in Alexandra culminated in a a gala concert at the American Center, in which we performed together with the young girls from EFPA and with local players of oud, kanun, and other Arabic instruments. Back in Cairo before departing, we gave a composition creation workshop at Alwan wa Awtar, a non-governmental organization that works with children of families displaced by the 1992 earthquake
CiH first traveled to Mexico in 2007 at the recommendation of Juilliard professor Dr. Samuel Zyman, and have since developed good partnerships with the Youth Philharmonic of Mexico City, the Mexican Center for Music and Sonic Arts in Morelia (CMMAS), and the Center for Youth and Adult Education in Pátzcuaro (CREFAL).
Since 2007, CiH has returned in 2008 and 2009. With the Youth Philharmonic of Mexico City, we conduct workshops, rehearsals, and master classes. Our collaboration culminates in performances of orchestra and chamber music at venues such as the Cultural Center Ollin Yoliztli. In Morelia, we have performed frequently at CMMAS, and one of our musicians, Karl Pestka, worked there to create an electronic composition reflecting the indigenous P’urhepecha heritage.
In Pátzcuaro, we live at CREFAL, which also generously acts as our main logistical partner. They have connected us to senior citizens from the club Nuestros Años Felices, and young boys from the Casa Hogar, a home where families can leave children for whom they cannot afford to provide. With both groups, we conduct composition workshops and hold forums to discuss topics of mutual interest. The senior citizens teach us about the P’urhepecha culture. Both sets of workshops culminate in a concert at CREFAL.
In 2009, we began a new partnership in Comachuen, where we met with local musicians, taught clarinet and trumpet lessons at the new conservatory, learned traditional music from a P’urhepecha ensemble, and marched in the procession of the Ascension of Mary.
Cultures in Harmony began on June 14, 2005, when William Harvey landed in Moldova for a solo violin concert tour. He worked with UNICEF to promote their Early Childhood Development program with a benefit concert in Chisinau that collected 7,000 books, which were then distributed at community concerts in villages and youth camps.
In 2009, CiH traveled to Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi for outreach performances in schools run by The Citizens Foundation (TCF), performances of Pakistani music with Pakistani musicians, informal private concerts and cultural exchange events, meetings with public figures such as Ahmed Rashid and the Bhutto family, and media engagements. We collaborated with some of the brightest lights of the Pakistani musical scene, such as Zeb and Haniya, Arieb Azhar, Aaishah Akram, and Natasha Ejaz. Our version of the Pakistani National Anthem became a nationwide hit and even was used as a popular ringtone.
In 2010, William Harvey traveled to Islamabad and Karachi. In Islamabad, William collaborated with rapper Adil Omar and sarangi player Taimur Khan to perform in a benefit concert atKuch Khaas for the sponsorship program at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM). This sponsorship program identifies orphans and street-working kids in Kabul. The children’s families are paid a small amount of money per month in order to make up for the income the children lose by going to school instead of working on the streets.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
In 2008, Steve Solook, Tiffany DuMouchelle, and William Harvey traveled to Papua New Guinea in a project underwritten by the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation. In partnership with the Labasia Cultural Theater Group, they traveled to the village of Yoro in the middle of the jungle to assist young members of the tribe in the creation of compositions designed to raise awareness about the environment, HIV/AIDS, and cultural preservation. They presented these compositions in a concert at Divine Word University in Madang on August 20, before proceeding to Port Moresby, where CiH held a press conference at the U.S. Embassy and presented a cultural exchange concert with a drum ensemble at the University of Papua New Guinea. The concert received national media attention and was attended by H.E. Leslie Rowe, the U.S. Ambassador.
Cultures in Harmony enjoys a longer history in the Philippines than in almost any other country, having conducted successful projects there in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. With St. Scholastica’s College, we present workshops, master classes, and rehearse in preparation for a final concert at St. Cecilia’s Hall. The Casa San Miguel offers children from low-income families the opportunity to study music in their picturesque brick home by the South China Sea. In 2008, we traveled together to do an outreach concert for the Aeta tribe, one of the oldest indigenous groups in the Philippines.
After working with The Cartwheel Foundation on an outreach concert tour of Mindanao in 2006, we embarked on an extraordinary and unique series of residencies in indigenous communities. In 2007, we worked with the Tala-Andig tribe in Miarayon, Mindanao; in 2008, we worked with the Umajam tribe in Cabanglasan, Mindanao; and in 2009, we worked with the Ichananaw tribe from Kalinga province, Luzon. Each year, we helped the youth from the indigenous community create musical compositions about their heritage.
Throughout our four years of work in the Philippines, we have developed many other wonderful partnerships. Each year, Bert Obledo of 98.7 FM, the Philippines’ only classical music station, interview us. In 2007 and 2008, one of our musicians performed solo with the Manila Symphony Orchestra: in 2007, William gave the Filipino premiere of the Elgar Violin Concerto, and in 2008, Danielle Kuhlmann performed Mozart’s Horn Concerto.
In 2008, CiH traveled to Qatar in a project made possible by a grant from ConocoPhillips and facilitated with logistical assistance by the U.S. Embassy and the Doha Community Orchestra.. The project involved numerous interactive concerts at schools in Doha and Al Wakra, two public concerts, and media appearances, meetings, and dinners. Highlights included a concert for visually impaired students at the Al Noor Institute and a cultural exchange concert alongside Egyptian, Iraqi, and Syrian musicians at the Youth General Authority Music Arts Center, attended by Sheikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al-Thani. The musicians also performed some American music, including a commissioned work by Chris Burton.
Cultures in Harmony enjoys a longer and deeper relationship with Tunisia than with any other country, first visiting in 2005, and returning each year. Particularly given the January 2011 revolution, we are profoundly committed to our work in Tunisia. The joyous and respectful friendships between individual Tunisians and Americans, facilitated by the universal language of music, offer the best guide towards how our governments and societies should interact going forward.
With the ASCM, CiH leads an extremely popular series of workshops for young violinists, cellists, and pianists. These workshops typically take place at a hotel near Tunis, and also involve young oudists, kanun players, and guitar players, taught by internationally renowned faculty contracted by the ASCM, such as Necati Celik and Daniel Figueras. Fifty to sixty students attend these workshops annually.
In 2008, we began working with the English Language Village, an intensive program where Tunisian students can learn English. Concerts and dialogue there were a highlight of our 2008 and 2009 projects. In 2009, our musicians recorded with oud and kanun virtuosi Amine and Hamza M’raihi. Nikola Kołodziejczyk was the engineer; read his account of the sessions. CiH Musicians also gave a memorable open-air performance for over a thousand people at the ancient Roman coliseum in El Jem.
Other venues at which we have performed during our five projects in Tunisia include the Tunis Cultural Centre, the Institut Superieur de Musique, Hammamet Cultural Center, and the Palais Ennejma Ezzahra. In 2005, we collaborated with the Tunisian Ministry of Health to give an anti-smoking concert.
This project, generously underwritten by the Turkish Cultural Center (which also coordinated the project) and the McGraw-Hill Companies, sent CiH to Turkey in 2007. In Istanbul, they performed outreach concerts at various psychiatric hospitals and collaborated with the Dünya Renkleri Korosu to present a highly successful benefit concert for the renowned humanitarian organization Kimse Yok Mu. They also traveled to Konya, where the whirling dervish ceremony originated as a result of the teachings of Mevlana Celaluddin Rumi over 700 years ago. During the ceremony, the dervishes turn around and around as a symbol of their unity with creation, while the musicians play ecstatic Sufi music on oud, ney, kanun, and drums. While in Konya, CiH musicians shattered an ancient historical barrier by becoming the first women ever to join male musicians in accompanying the ceremony in Konya.
Our work in the United States has encompassed efforts to unite different ethnic communities within the US as well as projects bringing musicians from abroad to connect with Americans.
From 2009 to 2010, Juntos con Vecinos (JCV) bridged cultures through music in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, USA. JCV involved a year-long series of cultural exchange concerts and music classes at Culturarte, the Dominican cultural center founded by the pioneer of metapoetry, Dr. Jorge Piña, and Karina Rieke. Classes met each Saturday and were free. Graduates of The Juilliard School taught piano, violin, and dance. Every month, we organized monthly cultural exchange concerts at Culturarte’s performance space. Each concert included classical music, Latin music, and crossover. Each event concluded with a reception catered by Culturarte volunteers and featuring Dominican cuisine.
In 2011, we helped bring Tunisian musicians Senda Zayati and Amani Jebali to learn and perform at New York Summer Music Festival and in New York City. This exciting project enabled hundreds of Americans to meet two talented young Tunisian musicians who are also wonderful people. CiH contributed major funding to this effort, as did the Williamson Foundation for Music.
Our project, “Sound of Water, Sound of Hope,” offered interactive music composition workshops for AIDS orphans. In the workshops, the children wrote music inspired by water in order to raise awareness about and funds to address the lack of access to water at Epworth Primary School in Epworth, Harare. We held a benefit concert to raise the funds necessary to install a borehole pump at the school. The project was a joint endeavor with Jayne During of the Kuaba Humanitarian Foundation.