Mia Hsieh was born in a port city in Taiwan and now lives in Taipei city. She has been working in the art field and community development for many years. Her movement training includes modern dance, Tai Chi and Indian dance. She has also studied vocal training in traditional Nan-Kwan singing and contemporary vocal performance with Meredith Monk and Lynn Book in New York City, as part of her time there on a Fulbright scholarship.
Mia has developed her own performance style that she calls “singing body” physical theater. She has performed with renowned Taiwanese and international artists in dance, theater, music, visual art and film. She leads several different types of workshops rerlated to creativity and healing through movement and voice.
She is the lead vocalist for Taiwanese world music band A Moving Sound.
The leader of the world fusion group Ancient Future, Matthew Montfort, released his first solo recording, ‘Seven Serenades for Scalloped Fretboard Guitar’ in 2009. He is a pioneer among guitarists who have had their fretboards scalloped in order to play various forms of world music that require intricate note-bending ornaments while still being able to play chords.
Montfort immersed himself in an intensive study with veena master K.S. Subramanian in order to fully apply the South Indian gamaka (note-bending) techniques to the guitar. The December 2009 Les Paul issue of Guitar Player Magazine includes a full page feature on Matthew Montfort with a corresponding GuitarPlayer.Com video and lesson entitled “The Music of Jimi Hendrix Applied to Indian Raga.”
He has performed concerts worldwide, from the Festival Internacional de la Guitarra on the golden coast of Spain to the Festival of India in Mumbai. He has worked with many world music legends, including tabla phenomenon Zakir Hussain and Chinese zither master Zhao Hui.
Montfort wrote the book “Ancient Traditions – Future Possibilities: Rhythmic Training Through the Traditions of Africa, Bali, and India,” which has been used by many musicians to improve their rhythm skills.
Marina Heredia Ríos, the daughter of flamenco singer Jaime El Parrón, was born in Granada on the 10th of April of 1980. She grew up with the art of flamenco in her blood. Marina started singing from her tender infancy and has been working relentlessly ever since. All her efforts and dedication paid off when she was awarded the prize Andalucía Joven a las Artes (Andalusia Youth for the Arts) for being an example of work and talent, and contributing to the dissemination of Andalusian flamenco throughout the world.
Since Marina’s first recording experience at the age of thirteen, making a flamenco CD for children called Malgre la Nuit, her artistic career began to take on a dizzying rhythm, when she participated in a new children’s CD, with a world music focus, representing flamenco to the world.
Her artistic commitments grew year by year. At fifteen, she collaborated as a singer in a group formed by guitarist Miguel Ángel Cortés and performed in various flamenco shows. This was when her international tours began and she performed with the flamenco dancer La China in Switzerland, France, Portugal, Spain and the London presentation of El Legado Andalusí (the Andalusian Legacy). In her search for new ways of understanding the flamenco of her roots, Marina has been experimenting with her musical ideas and shared the stage with gipsy performers from both Hungary and Pakistan in the Festival Madrid Sur.
Just a year later, she received critical acclaim for her performance on the stage of Espárrago 98 festival and began performing with well-established artists such as the dancer Maria Pagés and guitar maestro José María Gallardo. At the 10th Seville Flamenco Biennial, she was applauded triumphantly for her performance with Eva Yerbabuena at the Lope de Vega Theater.
With a growing reputation as one of the important young voices of flamenco, Marina took part in the Flamenco Adventure program, which took place during the late night concerts at the International Festival of Music and Dance in Granada. Also in 1998, Marina Heredia Ríos took part in the tribute concert for the legendary flamenco singer Camarón De La Isla in San Fernando, Cadiz.
Marina’s most flamenco side opened up to other kinds of music when she was involved with the opera De Amore by the composer Mauricio Sotelo and produced by the Munich Biennial and Madrid’s Zarzuela Theatre, premiering in the prestigious Carl Orff auditorium in Munich. Later that year, she performed in the concert Modus Novus again by Mauricio Sotelo for the Injuve 99 program for young composers at the Circulo de Bellas Artes (Academy of Fine Arts), Madrid.
Since the turn of the millennium Marina’s career has gone from strength to strength, appearing on main stages in Spain, France and Portugal. She has graced with her presence all the major Spanish festivals such as Madrid’s Autumn Festival, Seville’s Flamenco Biennial, and the festivals of Jerez, Ronda and of course the well-established International Festival of Music and Dance of Granada. Moreover, Marina has appeared in international festivals such as De Single of Antwerp, Strasbourg and the Nimes Flamenco Week. In 2002, she made her New York debut at the New York Flamenco Festival, where she also illustrated a conference by the critic and flamenco specialist Ángel Álvarez Caballero.
In 2001, she recorded her first solo album Me Duele, Me Duele, produced by Pepe de Lucia. Marina was accompanied by José Maria Cañizares and other great flamenco voices of today. That same year, she contributed to recording collaborations with Hougui B along with José Mercé creating a particular form of flamenco. Her interest in other artistic disciplines has led her to work with the dancer and choreographer Blanca Li in France and played a co-starring role alongside her father El Parrón in a documentary directed by Dominique Bel about the transmission of flamenco within the family.
This same restlessness brought her to poetry, which is especially present in her record La voz del agua (The voice of water), and clearly demonstrated in her performances both at the 7th Women Poets meeting in 2002 and at the International Solidarity Poetry Festival of Granada in 2005. Her poetic inclinations also brought her onto the stage in a UNESCO gala in Seville in solidarity with Afghan women.
In 2006, she opened the Seville Flamenco Biennial at the famous Lope de Vega Theater, but the most important work of that year was the recording of La voz del agua (The voice of water), her second solo album, under her own label.
In 2010 she performing together with Chekara Arab-Andalusian Orchestra of Tetuan that has collaborated with many of flamenco’s leading singers.
Renowned throughout the Arab world, Le Trio Joubran is led by Palestinian ud virtuoso Samir Joubran. Samir performs in duo or trio lineups with his younger brothers: Wissam Joubran and Adnan Joubran.
Samir and his brothers are the sons of a master luthier, who is the son of a master luthier; a family steeped in the ancient history of the ud, the Arabic lute.
Their mother sang in a Muashahat (a classical Arabic poetry/music form) ensemble and their father is an ud crafter known throughout the Arab world. The brothers were born in the Galilean city of Nazareth in a family with a strong musical tradition.
The three sons perform on uds built by Wissam, who was the first Arabic luthier to graduate from the Stradivarius Institute in Cremona, Italy, where he mastered the construction of violins and uds.
Le Trio Joubran was born when elder brother Samir listened to the jazz/rock/flamenco guitar trio of Al Di Meola (USA), Paco de Lucia (Spain), and John McLaughlin (UK).
The trio’s first CD together, Randana, was the first meeting of an ud trio. “We wanted to experiment composing for three uds,” says Samir. “It was a challenge and the music was experimental. Through our touring we gained confidence which makes the music on Majaz different. It’s more accessible to a wider public; it’s more clear, transparent, and joyful but with sadness in the background, and yet proud. We introduce percussion in a very subtle way, sensitive and present. Three uds are there with three different personalities, but together.”
République Amazone (Amazon Republic) brings together some of West Africa’s best female singers with highly percussive electronic music.
While the women provide the lead and background vocals, Irish producer Liam Farrell, also known as Doctor L, contributes most of the instruments in the form of electronic bass and beats. The focus is on powerful, deep bass sounds, developing a hybrid sound that combines traditional world music vocals and club-style dance beats.
Les Amazones d’Afrique (the African amazons) include Angélique Kidjo, Kandia Kouyaté, Mamani Keita, Mariam Doumbia, Mariam Koné, Massan Coulibaly, Mouneissa Tandina, Nneka, Pamela Badjogo and Rokia Koné.
Additional instrumentalists on some of the songs include Mouneissa Tandina on drums, Mamadou Diakité on guitar, Harouna Samaké on kamele ngoni, Vincent Courtois on cello, Patrick Ruffino on bass.
Loreena McKennitt was born and raised in Morden, Manitoba, a town of Irish, Scottish, German, and Icelandic inhabitants in the middle of the Canadian prairies. The most vigorous Highland dancer in her rural community, she was raised by her mother, a nurse, and her livestock-trader father. “It was a very modest community. People came from immigrant stock. Survival was the order of the day and in some ways broad cultural exposure was limited. Although my family’s ancestors on the most part came from Ireland, there was very little overt ‘Celticness’ to my upbringing in the sense of music or storytelling.”
After an adolescence spent in Morden, McKennitt was eager to move into a wider world. She was first exposed to the Celtic folk boom in a Winnipeg folk club. “The first step for me was Celtic music. The whole sound drew me in an almost instinctive way and it became this vehicle to pursue history in a way I could never have imagined,” she recalls.
In more cosmopolitan Winnipeg, she briefly studied to be a veterinarian, before moving on to finally settle in Stratford, Ontario, where her composing and performing skills were soon appreciated in the lively scene around the city’s internationally renowned Shakespearean Festival. McKennitt still makes her home there, living in a rural farmhouse.
Already in love with Yeats and the music of Breton harpist Alan Stivell, Planxty and the Bothy Band, McKennitt could sense the lyricism of Irish folk music. When she made her first journey to Ireland in 1982 she was to find a similar lyricism in the contours of the land and the spirit of the people.
Back home, she put her newly stirred Celtic fervor into an interpretation of Yeats’s “The Stolen Child.” Inspired by a D.I.Y book called How to Make and Sell Your Own Recording, by Diane Sward Rappaport, she set up her own record company, Quinlan Road, in 1985, and recorded Elemental, a nine-song cassette. She ran off copies and began selling them from her car while meeting the public on the most immediate level, as a busker.
As McKennitt’s mailing list grew, word of mouth in cafés and bookshops built her a significant audience. Her growing audience empathized while McKennitt explored the traditional canon, always seeking the reverberation that would make an ancient voice harmonize with her own. She’s particularly proud of tracking down “Bonny Portmore,” included on The Visit. An obscure ballad mourning the loss of ancient British stands of oak, once worshipped by pre-Christian tribes, it has a contemporary relevance to today’s fight to save old-growth forests.
McKennitt followed Elemental by cutting a seasonal perennial in the Christmas carols of To Drive the Cold Winter Away (1987), and made her first steps towards cross-cultural fertilization in the subsequent Parallel Dreams(1989). It was at this time she was commissioned to score music for the National Film Board of Canada’s acclaimed film series “Women and Spirituality.”
A pivotal moment for McKennitt’s evolution occurred in 1991 in Venice, Italy, at the largest ever exhibition and collection of international Celtic artifacts. “Until I went to that exhibition, I thought that Celts were people who came from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany,” recalls McKennitt.
Seeing the unimagined riches and variety in the centuries of Celtic art gathered from as far afield as Hungary, Ukraine, Spain and Asia Minor, she recalls, “I felt exhilarated. It was like thinking that all there is to your family are your parents, brothers and sisters, and then you realize there’s a whole stretch of history that is an extension of who you are.” That epiphany transformed McKennitt’s music.
The primeval sounding tambura drone that introduced her next album, The Visit (1992), announced a new direction with its bold, cinematic interpretations of Shakespeare and Tennyson, and an unusually edgy take on the Henry VIII-penned ballad, “Greensleeves.” This process reached a dramatic flowering on 1994’s The Mask and Mirror. McKennitt’s new staging post on the voyage was in Galicia, the Celtic corner of Spain, and then on into 15th-century Spain itself when the cultures of Islam, Christianity and Judaism merged to produce what is still remembered as the Golden Age, a time of profound cultural influence on the evolution of Western civilization.
The distinctiveness of McKennitt’s musical vision is matched by the independence with which she has approached the music business. “I think coming from a farming and rural background gave me the insight into being self-sufficient. You become familiar with creative problem solving. If you want something badly enough, you will roll up your sleeves and start chipping away.”
When McKennitt decided the time was ripe to move toward the industry establishment, she signed a unique deal with the Warner Group for the world. It is a deal which has been very fruitful indeed as her recordings have gone on to sell in the millions in over 40 countries. Beginning with The Visit, Warner distributed her work, while she controlled every aspect of creation and promotion.
Her album The Book of Secrets was conceived over several journeys, including one taken via the legendary Trans Siberian Express, in which the self-managed singer and record company head found the quiet she needed to reflect and prepare the album.. Finally, she had the time to read Dante’s The Divine Comedy, echoes of which appear in the album’s closing track, Dante’s Prayer. “As with the last three recordings, this one is also a document of my own path of exploration through the vehicle of music and history. There are a lot of mechanisms within our contemporary society that seem to dilute and diminish our sense of identity. As a result, I think there is a heightened need to understand who you are, what your roots are, and where they are connected.”
Her seventh full-length studio album, An Ancient Muse, was released on Quinlan Road in November 2006. An Ancient Muse was produced by Loreena McKennitt and co-produced by Brian Hughes, and was recorded at Real World Studios in England. Its nine tracks continue her exploration of Celtic themes on a journey that sweeps across time and musical genres, from the British Isles to ancient Greece and Byzantine- and Ottoman-era Turkey.
Musical collaborators include Brian Hughes, Donald Quan, Hugh Marsh, Caroline Lavelle, Stefen Hannigan, Rick Lazar, Hossam Ramzy, Annbjorg Lien, Nigel Eaton, Manu Katche, Charlie Jones, Ben Grossman, Jason Hann, Tal Bergman, Tim Landers, Clive Deamer, Ed Henley, Haig Yazdjian, Panos Dimitrakopoulos, Sokratis Sinopoulos and Georgios Kontogiannis and percussion ensemble Krotala.
In celebration of the 2008 holiday season, Quinlan Road released Loreena McKennitt’s A Midwinter Night’s Dream. The holiday themed album features eight new songs alongside five tracks from McKennitt’s 1995 EP, A Winter Garden: Five Songs For The Season, that were completely re-mastered for the new release. This holiday collection features an array of influences ranging from Celtic to classical to Middle Eastern. McKennitt’s eclecticism shines through in the mysticism of “The Holly and the Ivy,” the exotic Eastern arrangements of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” the Latin-sung “Emmanuel” and “Noël Nouvelet!” sung in Old French.
McKennitt recorded A Midwinter Night’s Dream at Peter Gabriel’s Real World recording studio near Bath, England following a highly successful European tour. With McKennitt providing vocals as well as accompaniment on the piano, accordion and harp, the record features a diverse instrumentation that includes oud, fiddle, cello, viola, percussion, hurdy gurdy, Greek lyra and Greek lute.
“Not only did I want to recapture some of the frankincense and myrrh in this music,” McKennitt explains, “but the process was a fresh reminder of the diversity of so many traditions when it comes to music of the winter season. The songs are rich with abundant references to the natural world and connections to our spiritual and religious bearings; it is clear that people have used winter as a time of reflection.”
In 2009 she released A Mediterranean Odyssey, a two-disc collection that commemorated Loreena’s 2009 Mediterranean tour and combined newly recorded live performances of audience favorites with previously released studio recordings, all inspired by the tones, textures and rich cultural heritage of the Mediterranean.
The first disc, From Istanbul to Athens, features 56 minutes of concert highlights from the tour, including several songs that have never before been recorded live. It also includes a 24-page booklet with lavish illustrations and photos from the tour.
The second CD, The Olive and the Cedar, consists of 11 conceptualized studio versions of songs personally selected by Loreena from her catalog. The disc focuses on her musical travel writing approach to the studio recording process and her inspiration in relation to the history of the Celts around the Aegean, the Mediterranean, North Africa and the near East.
As a composer, McKennitt has written music for productions at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario and the National Film Board of Canada. She has three feature length film scores to her credit and has contributed to several soundtracks for both film and television, the most recent being Disney’s fall 2008 DVD release Tinker Bell.
In 2007, McKennitt was nominated for a Grammy Award and was the recipient of a North American Folk Alliance Award. She has also won two Junos, Canada’s premier music award, in addition to a Billboard International Achievement Award.
As founder of The Cook-Rees Memorial Fund for Water Search and Safety, she has been recognized for her civic and community service, raising nearly four million dollars through the sale of Live in Paris and Toronto to advance water safety education and research. McKennitt has also established The Three Oaks Foundation, a fund which supports cultural, environmental, historical and family groups.
Lo’Jo is a an eclectic French band that creates hybrid music based on sounds from Africa, Europe and the Middle East. When Lo’Jo first formed there were only three members: Denis Pean, Richard Zenou, and Richard Bourreau. Since 1982, more than 300 musicians and dancers have contributed to Lo’Jo’s sound.
As a fledgling band, Lo’Jo joined the Jo Bithume Company, a street theatre ensemble. They absorbed multiple influences while touring Europe for four years. As musicians, we needed to open our ears to the music of the world. That was the idea when I began Lo’Jo,’ Pean said.
Although the band started with traditional Western instruments (piano, bassoon, double bass, and violin), West African instruments were introduced in the mid-90s.
The band’s members have performed live to Murnau’s silent film Nosferatu, published books, produced documentaries, performed twice at the Lincoln Center with 20 performers, and spent countless nights chatting around campfires, drinking wine and smoking cigarettes.
For a few years, they produced Le Festival au Desert with English guitarist Justin Adams and the Tuareg desert blues band Tinariwen, struggling against heat, political tensions, and sand-covered roads in search of new experiences and adventures.
Combined with performances in politically charged landscapes and collaborations with Malian group Tinariwen, Lo’Jo’s lyrics continue the poetic traditions of the French chanson.
Knut Reiersrud was born in 1961 in Oslo. He has been a much sought-after guitarist since he was teenager. He started out as a scholar of blues and folk music, and acquired a vast amount of knowledge about older forms of folk music. He became a professional musician in the late 1970s.
At 18, Knut Reiersrud made a sensation locally in Scandinavia when he tried to upstage blues guitarists Buddy Guy and Otis Rush in concert jams when they played Northern Europe. Later he has shared stage with among others Dr. John, Rick Danko (of The Band), Joe Cocker, Jan Garbarek and countless Norwegian jazz and rock settings, such as Silje and Bendik Hofseth (of Steps Ahead). He has also played with Morten Harket (of A-HA).
Reiersrud’s knowledge of Norwegian and international folk music has made him a renowned guitarist and composer. He has toured throughout the world, and has collaborated with musicians from all corners of the globe. His powerful presence and playful exuberance on stage make him a popular performer for all audiences.
Knut Reiersrud is also a renowned record producer, who has worked with numerous blues, folk and world music acts.
* Blå Koral with Iver Kleive (Kirkelig Kulturverksted FXCD 106, 1991)
* Himmelskip, with Iver Kleive (Kirkelig Kulturverksted FXCD 163, 1994)
* The sweet sunny north vol 1, with Kaiser/Lindley (Shanachie SH 64057, 1994)
* The sweet sunny north vol 2, with Kaiser/Lindley (Shanachie SH 64061, 1996)
* IX, with Bendik Hofseth ( Sony/Columbia 468 400 2, 1991)
* Amuse yourself, with Bendik Hofseth (Sony/Columbia 472 988 2, 1993)
* Tramp (Kirkelig Kulturverksted FXCD 129, 1993)
* Klapp (Kirkelig Kulturverksted FXCD 151, 1995)
* Soul of a man (Kirkelig Kulturverksted FXCD 194, 1998)
* Sub (Kirkelig Kulturverksted FXCD 215, 1999)
* Den signede dag, with Iver Kleive (Kirkelig Kulturverksted, 2000)
* Sweet Showers of Rain (Kirkelig Kulturverksted, 2001)
* Pretty Ugly (Kirkelig Kulturverksted, 2004)
* Gitar (Big Dipper Records, 2009)
* One Drop Is Plenty, with Mighty Sam McClain (2011)
* Aftonblues (Bluestown Records, 2013)
* Tears Of The World, with Mighty Sam McClain (ACT Music, 2015)
Kamancheh virtuoso and composer Kayhan Kalhor was born in Tehran (Iran). He began his musical studies at the age of seven. Kayhan Kalhor performed with the prestigious National Orchestra of Radio and Television of Iran and the Shayda Ensemble of the Chavosh Cultural Center while still a teenager.
Deeply devoted to the Iranian classical repertoire (radif), Kayhan Kalhor was further inspired to study regional folkloric traditions, which added additional dimensions to his improvisations and acted as springboards for cross-cultural explorations.
Since then, Kalhor has performed and recorded with Iran’s greatest instrumentalists and singers, including Mohammad Reza Shajarian and Shahram Nazeri, and toured the world as a soloist.
He co-founded the Dastan, Ghazal: Persian & Indian Improvisations, and Masters of Persian Music ensembles and has appeared with the New York Philharmonic and the Orchestre National de Lyon.
He was the featured soloist on the soundtrack of Francis Ford Coppola’s Youth Without Youth, a score on which he collaborated with Osvaldo Golijov.
Kayhan Kalhor is an original member of Yo-Yo Ma’s acclaimed Silk Road Ensemble and his works are heard on all of the ensemble’s albums.
WOMAD UK has announced some of the artists scheduled to perform at the 35th edition of the acclaimed world music festival. The event will take place at Charlton Park near Malmesbury in Wiltshire during July 27-30, 2017.
The first set of artists announced include South African vocal ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Benjamin Zephaniah, the modern Balkan sounds of Serbian artist Emir Kusturica, Tuareg desert blues act Bombino, and Squarepusher side project Shobaleader One.
Other artists include Nubian pop band Alsarah & the Nubatones (Sudan/USA); Creole jazz, soul and rock music by Bokanté (USA/Guadeloupe); Chilean cumbia party masters Chico Trujillo; the Pacific Coast Afro-Colombian sounds of Grupo Canalón de Timbiquí; Welsh Celtic music maestro Jamie Smith’s Mabon (UK); Khmer Rouge Survivors (Cambodia); experimental folk artist Maarja Nuut (Estonia), The Nile Project (Egypt/Ethiopia and more); Nomade Orquestra (Brazil); Rajab Suleiman & Kithara (Zanzibar); Savina Yannatou (Greece); Spooky Men’s Chorale (Australia); Tom Middleton (UK); and Zhou Family Band (China).