AZIZ EL ACHAB
Aziz el Achhab is the Artistic Director of the World Sacred Music Festival in Fes, Morocco. The Fes Festival was designated in 2001 by the United Nations as one of the major events in the world contributing to the dialogue between civilizations. The message of the Fes Festival is that of interfaith dialogue through music, respect for ethical and spiritual values, and the creation of a culture of peace. Aziz el Achhab is the leader of his own orchestra and plays with many other musicians in both traditional and modern compositions. He is also the representative of other musicians and a major promoter of Moroccan music.
Wendell Brooks (who unfortunately passed away in 2012 soon after recording his segments on slave songs and spirituals for this TWM series) was a consummate bass-baritone vocalist who performed throughout Europe and USA, specializing in African American slave songs and spirituals. He served in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, taught sociology, religion and African American studies at three universities, and shared with us his stories of the spirituals and their impact on the development of the Blues.
Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri began studying tabla at the age of five. Pandit Chaudhuri’s remarkable style is based on the long training he received from his Guru, Santosh Krishna Biswas of Calcutta. Swapan has performed throughout Europe, North America, and Asia as a solo musician and as an accompanist, with such masters as Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Pandit Ravi Shankar.
A famed composer, violinist, and oud player, Yair Dalal is an Israeli musician who plays Jewish music from many styles and cultures but especially that of his parents’ native country, Iraq. He was nominated “best musician from the Middle East” in the 2002 BBC World Music Awards. Ever since Dalal gave up his previous career as a desert guide to become a full-time musician, his talent and energies have been focused on sharing the music of the Near East’s desert regions, especially that of the Bedouin of the Negev. He is also dedicated to exploring the music of his Iraqi and Babylonian roots.
Aziz Faye is the Artistic Director and featured performer of Khaleye Nguewel. He comes from a long line of master Sabar drummers and dancers from a highly renowned and respected gewel/griot family that has served generations of kings in Senegal. Aziz now passes on his family traditions, and performs worldwide drumming, singing, and/or dancing) with other famous Senegalese artists such as Yousou N’Dour and Baba Mal.
ABDELGHANI GHATBA (GHNINOU)
The Arabic musician Ghninou plays the darbouga with the Orcestra Rgragi, an orchestra that is nationally recognized. They perform weekly on national television in Morocco.
Yehuda Glantz is a talented multi-instrumentalist who received a scholarship to the Music Conservatory in Buenos Aires as a teenager. There he learned to play the guitar, flute, tarbuka, violin, and charango. Glantz now lives in, and draws his inspiration from, Israel. He tours worldwide, composing and performing music that combines many of his instruments and cultural traditions.
Wei Hou began his music education at the age of thirteen and worked diligently to develop his talent. Both in 1993 and 1995, he was awarded first prize in the Youth Solo Instrument Competition in Beijing. He has performed all over China and on many of China’s most popular TV stations, and with many important Chinese touring music ensembles. He now lives in San Francisco, California.
Lalo Izquierdo is an extremely talented percussionist, dancer, choreographer, and instructor from Lima, Peru. He has dedicated his life’s work to recording and preserving the rhythms and dances of Afro-Peruvian culture. Izquierdo has traveled globally to teach and perform. He currently plays the cajón with the ensemble Karumanta, and shares his culture of music and dance by teaching at numerous universities and schools worldwide.
DANONGAN “DANNY” KALANDUYAN
Danongan “Danny” Kalanduyan (1947 – 2016) was known worldwide as a master musician and “culture bearer” for all aspects of the Maguindanao tribal style of kulintang music. He had been studying and playing music since he was seven years old. As a young man, he won island-wide competitions on the gandingan and became widely recognized as a master musician, ethno-musicologist, and highly respected teacher of pre-Colonial Philippine arts and culture. He was a featured artist in performances at all major venues and cultural centers worldwide, and we appreciated his generosity with his time and talents towards the making of this TWM series.
Alam Khan, the son of legendary Indian music master Swara Samrat Ali Akbar Khan (1922-2009), began studying the sarode with his father at the age of seven. He later accompanied his father to perform in India at the Jodhpur Palace for the King and Royal family, and also to sold-out audiences all over Europe and India. Alam Khan continues to perform worldwide and now teaches as well, carrying on the family generations of sarode masters at the famed Ali Akbar College of Music in California.
SUKHAWAT ALI KHAN
Sukhawat Ali Khan is the son of the legendary Indian-Pakistani vocalist Ustad Salamat Ali Khan. Sukhawat Ali Khan started his training at the age of seven and started performing on stage with his famous father, touring England, France, Holland, India, Sri Lanka and America. He has now performed at major venues and cultural institutions around the globe.
Moroccan musician Lahlou is a raita player who performs under several mkadems masters of the aissawa (brotherhood). The leading mkadem (and one of the most known and respected ones) whom Lahlou currently plays with, is known as El Btahi.
Elias Lammam began studying the accordion at the age of nine with a famous master accordion player in his native Beirut. Elias became a celebrated vocalist, arranger, conductor and composer, creating works for dancers and singers in Beirut, as well as for major television commercials. He appeared on TV and radio and was the head of a very popular musical group in Dubai for 10 years. Elias Lammam sadly passed away in 2019 so we are grateful to have had the time with him to film and record this special interview content.
The popular violinist and vocalist Georges Lammam (brother of the late Elias Lammam) studied music in Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. He began performing at the age of 15 and eventually started his own ensemble, performing in well-known nightclubs in Sharjah, Abu Dabai, and Dubai. Today his internationally renowned group, the Georges Lammam Ensemble, plays a wide range of Arabic music, blending Turkish, Iranian, Israeli, and Pakistani styles of music.
Rafael Manriquez (who very sadly passed away in 2013 shortly after these interviews) was an internationally renowned journalist, singer, guitarist, composer and producer from Santiago, Chile. His music was inspired by great Chilean folk singers such as Violeta Parra and Victor Jara, and like them, his lyrics reflected the struggles of his people in their desire for peace. Rafael was one of three founders of Grupo Raiz, encouraging other “activitist musicians” as they were called.
Midiyanto is a renowned Indonesian musician, singer, and shadow master (dhalang) specializing in Javanese gamelan. He was raised in a family of performing artists. He started to drum for shadow play performances at the age of eight and studied at the High School of the Arts (SMKI) and the Academy of Indonesian Arts (STSI) in Surakarta. He continues to teach and perform in Indonesia as well as the U.S.A., Canada, New Zealand, and Singapore.
BABA KEN OKULOLO
Baba Ken Okulolo has roots that extend deep into Nigerian musical history. He leads three different performing groups: the modern Afro-beat band KOTOJA, the all-star WEST AFRICAN HIGHLIFE BAND, and the acoustic, traditional NIGERIAN BROTHERS. He says that each group brings forth the “universal healing magic” of African music.
JACQUELINE CASTRO RAVELO
Jacqueline Castro Ravelo is a talented Chilean folk-singer, composer, and instrumentalist now based in the Netherlands. She grew up listening to folk music and has been singing and playing the guitar since she was nine years old. Ravelo sings the songs of Chilean payadores (or poets) and uses her music as a means to preserve her native Chilean culture.
Val Serrant is a very active steel pan/traditional drummer from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. A great friend of the late Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olatunji and culture worker Constance Williams, Serrant believes in being a positive force for change in the community. Serrant frequently performs and teaches about Caribbean music in schools and is also a member of Afrika Heartbeat, founded by Sikiru Adepoju. Serrant is also the External Relations Officer for the Parry’s Pan School in Tacarigua, Trinidad.
Rumen Shopov is a concertmaster and tambura soloist of the famous Nevrokopski Ensemble for National Songs and Dances, the oldest Bulgarian professional folk ensemble. He has made many recordings and toured the world. He has extensive experience in playing Romani, Bulgarian, Turkish, and Greek music. Mr. Shopov is also a master musician on the davul and darbuka.
Carol Silverman is an associate professor of Cultural Anthropology and Folklore at the Univ. of Oregon. She has a PH.D in Folklore with a focus on Roma culture. She has had the honor of singing with Yuri Yunakov’s Rom/Bulgarian music groups for a number of years, and served as translator/interpreter for Yuri on his TWM interviews.
Ronnie Stewart, a guitarist turned historian, has been dedicated to promoting the Blues for over 25 years. Stewart is the founder, executive director and music historian of the Bay Area Blues Society located in Oakland, California.
RIFFAT SALAMAT SULTANA
Riffat Sultana comes from a family of musicians. She is the daughter of the late Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, who is known as the finest Pakistani Classical singer of his time. Riffat’s mother, Razia, is also a gifted vocalist from India, descending from a line of highly respected Punjabi classical musicians. Riffat Salamat Sultana is the first woman from her family allowed to publicly perform in the west. She has collaborated with musicians from all over the world.
Hong Wang plays many Chinese traditional instruments. A dedicated researcher in his specialized field, Mr. Wang has made numerous recordings of Chinese folk music, often traveling to remote villages to document his country’s rich heritage of ancient regional music. He has performed and lectured in the Netherlands, Singapore, Hong Kong, U.S.A., Japan, and Germany.
Winnie Wong began playing the gu-zheng in 1983 at the age of four and started performing by the age of five. She has performed both in China and the USA, and has lectured at many universities and colleges in both countries. She began teaching the gu-zheng in 1992 and continues to perform internationally, also composing and arranging many new pieces that combine the diverse tone colors of the gu-zheng with other instruments of all cultures and styles.
Yuri Yunakov is a Turkish-Bulgarian Rom and is one of the founders of Bulgaria’s wildly popular “wedding music” style. A saxophone player of incredible skill, his command of the style’s fast-paced, complicated, and shifting time signatures has been known to make whole rooms full of people get up and dance “as one” in joyous frenzy.