Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Ancient Future

Ancient Future in 1990

The music of Ancient Future is a fusion of rhythms and exotic sounds featuring virtuoso musicians from around the globe. Their music combines contemporary jazz and rock with the rhythms of Africa, Bali, India, the Middle East and South America, the rich harmonies of European classical music, and the melodic knowledge of the whole world.

Formed in 1978, Ancient Future is one of the first and longest running musical organization dedicated exclusively to the mission of creating world fusion music.

Two of the founding members, Matthew Montfort and Benjy Wertheimer, were childhood friends in Boulder, Colorado, who dreamed of forming a band together.

In the summer of 1977, Wertheimer and Montfort arrived to Northern California to study North Indian classical music at the Ali Akbar College of Music. There they met the members of the Diga Rhythm Band (an offshoot of the Grateful Dead featuring tabla master Zakir Hussain, Mickey Hart, and Jerry Garcia), moved into the house that the group rehearsed in, and formed a new band including Diga Rhythm Band members Tor Dietrichson, Jim Loveless, Ray Spiegel, and Arshad Syed.

The new band rehearsed at the Grateful Dead studio and performed a number of concerts before splitting up into two groups: a Latin band, and the world fusion music group Ancient Future. Ancient Future can therefore be thought of as having formed as an offshoot of an offshoot of an offshoot of the Grateful Dead.

The original members of Ancient Future studied with the master musicians of many world music traditions, from Balinese gamelan director Mad? Gerindem to North Indian sarod master Ali Akbar Khan. They used their knowledge of world music to create something new and uniquely their own that is respected by pundits from the cultures whose traditions are a part of the mix.

Over the years, Ancient Future has expanded its musical vision through collaborations with master musicians from more than two dozen countries, cultures, and musical traditions who are now an integral part of what is today more than just a band.

Ancient Future has grown to become a large multinational music ensemble with many smaller ensembles within it, enabling Ancient Future to realize its core mission of creating world fusion music.

Ancient Future has released seven full length studio CDs selling over 150,000 units: Visions of a Peaceful Planet, Natural Rhythms, Quiet Fire, Dreamchaser, World Without Walls, Asian Fusion, and Planet Passion. Over one million legal mp3 files from three of these releases on Ancient-Future.Com Records have been distributed commercially. This of course does not count files distributed illegally (Ancient Future’s leader, Matthew Montfort, was selected as the proposed Class Representative for Independent Musicians Against Napster due to the large number of Ancient Future files being traded illegally). Ancient Future has also recorded two live CDs and a video (for release on DVD) of a live concert featuring four different versions of the band.

Ancient Future has performed over a thousand shows worldwide, headlining such venues as Carnegie Recital Hall (New York City), Great American Music Hall (San Francisco), Hult Center for the Performing Arts (Eugene), Yoshi’s (Oakland), Sangeetha Indian Music Concert Series (St. Louis), and even a night club called Atlantis in Beirut, Lebanon, with a Piranha tank in the middle of the dance floor and a bar that doubles as an aquarium.

They have appeared at every type of festival imaginable including the Festival Internacional de la Guitarra (near Barcelona, Spain), Asian/Pacific Festival of Fortune, Northwest Regional Folklife Festival, Oregon Country Fair, Sand Harbor Jazz Festival, California WorldFest, Monterey World One, Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, and the Summer of Love 30th Anniversary in Golden Gate Park.

Dance versions of the band have pumped up dance crowds at techno/DJ events such as the Groove Garden and Harmony Festival’s Techno Tribal Dance with their 100% organic loop-free grooves.

Ancient Future in 2016


* Visions of a Peaceful Planet (1979, Ancient-Future.Com 2004)

* Natural Rhythms (Philo/Rounder 9006, 1984)

* Quiet Fire (Narada Lotus 1012, 1986)

* World Without Walls (Narada/Sona Gaia 163, 1990)

* Dreamchaser (Narada/Sona Gaia 154, 1998)

* Asian Fusion (Narada Equinox 63023, 1993)

* Music From the Tea Lands -Various Artists (Putumayo World Music Collection PUT180-2, 2000)

* Planet Passion (Ancient-Future.Com AF 2001, 2002)

* Putumayo Presents: Asian Lounge – Various Artists (Putumayo World Music Collection PUT 244-2, 2005)

* Yearning for the Wind (2014)

Web Site:


Artist Profiles: Annbjørg Lien

Annbjørg Lien – Photo by Angel Romero, 2010

Annbjørg Lien (born 1971) is one of Norway’s most famous Hardanger fiddle players. She has courageously presented Hardanger fiddle folk music in new musical contexts, in combination with guitar, flute, percussion and electronic instruments.

She comes from a musical family, and studied Hardanger fiddle with her father in addition to classical violin at Ålesund Music School. Annbjørg later studied privately with other fiddlers, including Hauk Buen of Telemark.

Several symphony orchestras have engaged Annbjørg as a guest soloist to perform compositions written for the Hardanger fiddle, such as Geirr Tveitt’s “Tri fjordar”. She has made many television and radio appearances, including a TV special in memory of King Olav V.

In addition to pursuing her solo career, she is a member of the popular group Bukkene Bruse. She is strongly devoted to traditional music. Using music from her home district, Sunnmøre, as a basis, she plays music arranged for unusual combinations of instruments and writes her own material.

Lien has a way of infusing new hues and new life into folk music, and has gained an international reputation. She creates modern folk music with broad appeal, has toured all over the world, and has collaborated with folk musicians from many countries. In 1998 she was the first folk musician to receive a government-sponsored grant to establish her career abroad.

In 2007 she participated in the CD and DVD from String Sisters titled Live. The String Sisters is a collaboration of the Celtic music world’s top female fiddlers; Annbjørg Lien, Catriona Macdonald from Shetland, Liz Carroll and Liz Knowles from the United States of America, Mairead ni Mhaonaigh (Altan) from Ireland and Emma Härdelin from Sweden.
On March 10 of 2008 she released Waltz with me. The album features Bruce Molsky, Mikael Marin, Christine Hanson and Kirsten Bråten Berg.

In 2010, Annbjørg made a duo recording titled Alle Vegne with folk singer Sondre Bratland.

“Khoom Loy”, released in 2012 has a world music focus. It’s a tribute to a ritual in Asia: releasing lanterns in remembrance of the dead, or as a prayer for a good life. “Khoom Loy” is the Thai name for these lanterns that are made of rice paper and bamboo. Annbjørg is joined by six musicians from Nepal as well as her band.

The 2015 album “Drifting like a bird” is a CD version of a commissioned work she composed for the North Sea Festival in Farsund in 2013, about life at sea and on land around the North Sea Basin. The album features Annbjørg Lien on vocals, chorus, Hardanger fiddle, nyckelharpa; Roger Tallroth on 12-string guitar, bowed guitar, choir, irish bouzouki, tenor guitar, terz guitar, ukulele; Anders Løfberg on cello, bass, backing vocals; Tori Wrånes on vocals, accordion, backing vocals, ship`s bell; Cathy Jordan on bodhran, bones, vocals; Bjørn Ole Rasch on backing vocals, Hammond B3, harmonium, kalimba, mellotron; and Rune Arnesen on backing vocals, drums, percussion.


* Eg er liten eg, men eg vågar meg (Grappa Musikkforlag (MC) PNK 8215, 1983)
* Annbjørg (Kirkelig Kulturverksted FXCD 88, 1989)
* Bukkene Bruse, with Bukkene Bruse (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4053, 1993)
* Felefeber (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4081, 1994)
* Åre, with Bukkene Bruse (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4100, 1995)
* Prisme (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4113, 1996)
* Steinstolen, with Bukkene Bruse (Grappa Musikkforlag HCD 7145, 1998)
* Baba Yaga (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4158, 1999)
* Aliens alive (Northside NSD 6068, 2002)
* | Waltz With Me (Compass Records, 2008)
* Come Home (Grappa, 2009)
* Alle Vegne (Kirkelig Kulturverksted FXCD 358, 2010)
* Khoom Loy (Grappa Musikkforlag HCD 7250, 2012)
* Drifting like a bird (Grappa Musikkforlag HCD7292, 2015)

Web site:


Artist Profiles: Anibal Velasquez

Anibal Velasquez and his band

Anibal Velasquez, known by his fans as “El Mago” (the Magician), has been one of the most prolific musicians of Colombia’s Musica Tropical movement. Anibal was born into a musical family in Barranquilla in 1936. His father was an accomplished musician but his biggest influence was his older brother Juan who first introduced him to the secrets of the accordion.

One of the turning points was a chance encounter with Robertico Roman, a musician from Cartagena. “It was with Roberlico Roman that I formed my first band called Los Vallenatos de Magdalena. I made my first recording with that band in 1952. Four songs were recorded including a track called ‘La Gallina,’ which became a huge hit and really spread the coastal sound toward the interior of the country.”

Unfortunately soon after, in 1955, band-mate Robertico died and Los Vallenatos de Magdalena had to disband. Without a band, Anibal was forced to take a job as a session musician for Barranquilla-based label Disco Eva working for a group called El Conjunto Colomboy. He remained with Disco Eva until the end of the 1950s, working closely with the great costeño master Lucho Campilo.

Then, in 1960, Anibal formed a new group together with his elder brother Juan, a gifted musician in his own right, and his younger brother Jose who would soon become his right hand man, enabling Anibal to add a new dimension to his playing style.

Jose himself began experimenting by incorporating new instruments and re-inventing old rhythms, He would break the rules and replaced the traditional bongos used in Cuban guaracha and rumba with a traditional Colombian drum called “La Caja” that he modified by adding “radiografias médicas” (x-ray films) over the drum. This, combined with Anibal’s powerful accordion – was to become a sensation, generating a much harder and drier sound than the traditional leather skin drums.

Anibal’s new guaracha style was infectious, fast and furious, often leading his crowds into a state of frenzy. The interest for Anibal’s new innovative sound started growing and numerous recording offers came in.

Anibal began to have an impressive amount of followers, drawing huge crowds wherever he went. By the mid-1960s, music in La Costa began to change drastically. With the onset of the hippie movement in the United States came a craving for marijuana, and Colombia’s Caribbean Coast had become a main trafficking hub. A new economy of drugs had emerged and with it a musical style called Vallenato rose to prominence.

Vallenato’s distinct accordion sound and bluesy appeal made it a favorite among drug lords and mafiosos alike, becoming the soundtrack for their feverish life-styles. By the 1970s the level of violence in the coast had grown to unprecedented heights and Vallenato was everywhere. Fed up with this, Anibal decided to move to Caracas, Venezuela, where he remained for 18 years until finally returning bock to his beloved Barranquilla in the late 1980s.

Anibal’s contribution to Colombia’s Musica Tropical Movement is very significant. It is said that Anibal Velasquez recorded 300 LPs throughout his remarkable career.

Selected Discography

* Ritmo y el Sabor (2005)
* Mambo Loco (Analog Africa, 2010)


Artist Profiles: Cepillo


Percussionist Ángel Sánchez González, a.k.a. Cepillo, has become one of the essential accompanists of today’s best flamenco musicians and shows. He was born in Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cadiz province, Spain). Since his early years, he played his rhythms with flamenco, rock, jazz fusion and Brazilian musicians and groups.

Cepillo is a regular on the concerts of renowned artists such as Gerardo Núñez, Manolo Sanlúcar, Tomatito, Duquende, Carmen Cortés, Carmen Linares, Rafael Riqueni, Esperanza Fernández, Vicente Amigo, Isidro Muñoz, José Miguel Évora, José Antonio Galicia, Javier Barón, La Tobala, Pedro Sierra, Tino di Geraldo, Perico Sambeat, Michael Brecker, Renaud García Fons and Zakir Hussain, among others.

Cepillo has had a long career, performing throughout Spain and appearing in some of the best venues and festivals in Spain and abroad.

He has appeared in numerous recordings, including ‘Un ramito de locura’ by Carmen Linares, Jazzpaña, ‘Gerardo Núñez presenta. La Nueva Escuela de la Guitarra Flamenca’ and more.


Artist Profiles: André Brunet

André Brunet

André Brunet was born in Lacolle, in Quebec’s Montérégie region. Growing up, it was his parents who first noticed his keen interest in music and encouraged him to follow his passion. André’s first love was for the violin and, at the age of nine, he began taking lessons. Along with brother Réjean, he created Les Frères Brunet and went on to record several albums and perform at various concerts around the world.

In 1997, André’s unwavering energy and refined style earned him a spot with La Bottine Souriante, with whom he toured more than 15 countries over the course of 10 years.

Although his journey with La Bottine Souriante came to an end in 2006, André remained immersed in traditional music. At the Grand Masters Fiddling Competition in August 2008—an event showcasing more than twenty violinists from across Canada— André took home top honors as “Grand Master of Canada”.

It was the first time a Quebecer had won the prestigious award since the competition’s inception in 1990. Whether he’s accompanying his wife Martine Billette for a piano duet, or playing alongside fiddle stylists Kevin Burke (Ireland), Christian Lemaître (Brittany) and Ged Foley of Celtic Fiddle Festival, André feels right at home on any stage.

Today, his passion for traditional Quebec music continues to pave the way for dance and swing enthusiasts the world over—a true journey of musical discovery.

He is a member of De Temps Antan.


Ce Monde Ici Bas
Habits De Papier



Artist Profiles: Altan

Altan in 2010 – Photo by Angel Romero

Irish traditional band Altan has had a tremendous effect on audiences and music lovers throughout the world. With their beautifully crafted award-winning recordings, ranging dynamically from the most tender old Irish songs all the way to vibrant reels and jigs, Altan have taken Irish music to some of the best concert halls and festivals throughout the world.

During all this time, there has been the resolute commitment of the band to delivering the beauty of traditional music, particularly that of the Donegal fiddlers and singers, to a wide-range of audiences.

Altan have always believed that Irish traditional music is modern-day music. “Ireland isn’t known for its opera or classical music. What we are known for is our traditional music, our language, our culture. That’s what we can give the world,” says acclaimed fiddler and lead vocalist Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh.


Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh in 2010 – Photo by Angel Romero


The History

The roots of the band begin with the music and fun of gatherings and sessions in kitchens and pubs in Donegal where masterful music was heard in an environment of appreciation and intimacy; this is the foundation of the band.

The real essence of the band was the music and personality of band founders, Belfast flute-player, Frankie Kennedy, and Gweedore singer and fiddler, Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh.

As soon as anyone met them and heard their unique music in the early 1980s, whether in a large noisy festival session, or in the small traditional clubs of Dublin and Belfast, it was immediately clear there was synergy at work.

Mairead and Frankie played a mix of old Donegal fiddle music and rare Northern flute tunes. Steadily, the duo grew organically into a band in the mid-1980s. They chose the name Altan, which is a deep and mysterious lake behind Errigal Mountain in Donegal.

Altan was committed to musical excellence and good-natured fun. The band members were some of the best players in the contemporary folk music scene. Altan has always been a band featuring virtuoso musicians. One of the first was bouzouki-player, Ciaran Curran from Co. Fermanagh, a well-respected session and festival musician, nephew of fiddler, Ned Curran. Like all accompanists of the time, Ciaran had created his own style on the bouzouki, and his playing is an essential part of the Altan sound.


Ciaran Curran – Photo by Angel Romero


With the inclusion of guitarist Mark Kelly in the mid-1980s Altan truly became a band. Mark had played other musical styles, and from the very beginning he showed a talent for stylishly incorporating fresh rhythms and chordings to the band’s arrangements. Mark and Ciaran appeared on the 1987 album “Altan”, which, even though not officially a band album, unveiled the Altan’s studio sound.


Mark Kelly – Photo by Angel Romero


The increasing amount of live performances in 1984 and 1985 led Frankie and Mairead to quit their teaching jobs and go professional. Especially influential were short trips to the United States in those years when Altan played concerts in New York, Minnesota, Madison, Portland and Seattle with Derry guitarist, Daithi Sproule, a Minnesota resident, and like Ciaran and Mark, an old friend.

Daithi was one of the first musicians to adapt the guitar to old Gaelic songs (many of which he learned in the Gaeltacht of Rannafast, just a few miles from Mairead’s home in Gweedore). These US concerts, played in clubs and sometimes in noisy Irish pubs, where people were expecting a very different sort of music, convinced Frankie and Mairead that no-compromise traditional music played with passion and vitality could win over any audience anywhere.

In subsequent years, Altan recorded albums for American independent record label Green Linnet, all of which won praises and awards and appeared in the Billboard charts. Alytan’s collaborators on these albums were first-rate: Donal Lunny, Brian Masterson and Steve Cooney in particular made oustanding contributions over the years.

Another friend played with Altan for several years, fiddle maestro Paul O’Shaughnessey, a stunning player with a deep knowledge of Donegal music. The two-fiddle sound became popular, so as Altan toured more and more widely, Paul had to leave due to pressure of work. His place was taken by another great young Donegal fiddler, Ciaran Tourish, a musician with a special love for the weaving of spontaneous harmony and counterpoint around the melodies of the other lead players.


Ciaran Tourish – Photo by Angel Romero


A final element was added to Altan’s sound in the early 1990s. It was another old friend, accordion-player Dermot Byrne, another Donegal musician, who grew up listening to an older generation of Donegal fiddlers, the Doherty’s, the Byrne’s and the Cassidy’s.


Dermot Byrne – Photo by Angel Romero


Sadly, in the early 1990s Altan suffered a devastating blow, when band leader and manager, Frankie Kennedy, at the height of his career as a brilliant and innovative flute-player and just when his and Mairead’s musical dreams were being realized, was diagnosed with cancer.

Through a long illness, Altan, at Frankie’s insistence, continued to tour and perform with Frankie’s participation whenever possible. Frankie died on September 19, 1994. He continues to be a presence and inspiration in Altan’s life and music.

In 1996 Altan was signed to Virgin Records, the first Irish band of their kind to be signed by a major label. Altan achieved gold and platinum albums in Ireland and toured larger venues, throughout the globe, with tours in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Europe as well as regular successful U.S. tours.

In recent years Altan has experimented with traditional music, using orchestral arrangements of its most popular pieces. The arrangements have been scored by the highly respected arranger Fiachra Trench and performed with the Ulster Orchestra, The RTÉ Concert Orchestra, and the Royal Scottish Opera Orchestra.

In March of 2010 Altan released Altan: 25th Anniversary Celebration album with the RTE Concert Orchestra, and embarked on an international tour.

In 2012, Altan released Gleann Nimhe – The Poison Glen inspired by a region around Dún Lúiche, in County Donegal, made of deep glens and lakes. The album featured Martin Tourish who would later replace Dermot Byrne.

The Widening Gyre, released in 2015, was recorded in Nashville and explored the influence of Appalachian music on Irish music.


The Band in 2013-2016

Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh – lead vocals, fiddle
Ciaran Tourish – fiddle, tin whistle, backing vocals
Mark Kelly – guitars, bouzouki, backing vocals
Ciaran Curran – bouzouki, mandolin
Dáithí Sproule – guitar, vocals
Martin Tourish – accordion

In 2018, Altan released The Gap of Dreams. The album was recorded at Attica Studios in the townland of Termon in northern County Donegal, produced by Michael Kenney and Tommy McLaughlin. The album title, The Gap of Dreams, is borrowed from a poem by Francis Carlin, “The Ballad of Douglas Bridge,” in which he writes: “The Gap of Dreams is never shut,” referring to the gap between this world and the Otherworld. The Otherworld has always wielded a large influence on the fiddling tradition of County Donegal and has served as inspiration for song, music, and folklore.



* Altan (Green Linnet, 1987)
* Horse with a Heart (Green Linnet 1095, 1992)
* The Red Crow (Green Linnet 1109, 1992)
* Harvest Storm (Green Linnet 1117, 1992)
* Island Angel (Green Linnet 1137, 1993)
* The First Ten Years, 1986-1895 (Green Linnet 1153, 1995)
* Blackwater (Virgin 41381, 1996)
* The Best of Altan (Green Linnet 1177, 1997)
* Another Sky (Narada 48838, 2000)
* The Blue Idol (Narada 11955, 2002)
* The Best of Altan – The Songs (Virgin, 2003)
* Local Ground (Narada, 2005)
* Altan: 25th Anniversary Celebration (Compass Records, 2010)
* Gleann Nimhe – The Poison Glen (Compass Records, 2012)
* The Widening Gyre (Compass Records, 2015)
* The Gap of Dreams (Compass Records, 2018)



Artist Profiles: Ana Alcaide

Ana Alcaide

Ana Alcaide is a Spanish multi-instrumentalist, composer and music producer who carries out research on ancient traditions and cultures.
At the age of seven she took up classical violin and began her lifelong journey in music. She studied at the Getafe Conservatory of Music (Madrid province) and later at Lund University (Sweden).

She has received formal scientific and musical training in several countries (Spain, Sweden and Mexico) and holds a biology degree with a specialization in botany from the Complutense University in Madrid.

Her investigative spirit has led her to carry out a wide range of projects, including the study of mushrooms found in the Baja California Desert and the filming of bird nests in Scandinavian forests. It is this same determination that fuels her desire to research ancient musical instruments and repertoires.

After being awarded a biology scholarship in 2000, Ana traveled to Sweden where she first laid hands on the nyckelharpa, a traditional Swedish instrument that dates from medieval times. Attracted by the complexity and depth of its sound, Ana taught herself how to play the nyckelharpa on the streets of Toledo (Spain), far from its traditional setting.

In 2005 she returned to Sweden to further pursue her music studies and to specialize in this Swedish folk instrument. During this time she was also influenced by other musical traditions and began studying other instruments and vocal techniques.

She graduated from Malmö Academy of Music (Bachelor in Performing Arts) after successfully completing an individualized program (Individual Project) in which she focused on world music, combining her interest in traditional music with the study of more modern techniques. This has allowed her to construct her own path as both a performer and a composer.

As a result of her profound connection and experimentation with the nyckelharpa, Ana published her debut album Viola de Teclas in 2006. She has played a pioneering role in introducing and popularizing the nyckelharpa in Spain.

Her second album, Como la luna y el sol, was the result of the final degree project she completed while at the Malmö Academy of Music. This album offers listeners Ana’s unique vision of traditional Sephardic music.

In late 2009 she compiled her first three years of work on the DVD Ana Alcaide en concierto, which was filmed in a historic Jewish temple (Synagogue of ‘El Tránsito’ – Toledo, Spain) alongside her usual collaborators.

In 2012, after taking time off to have her first child, Ana released her third album, La cantiga del fuego. Composed during her pregnancy, this album marks a major turning point in her professional and personal life. La cantiga del fuego is inspired by the ancient Sephardic traditions with stories about impossible love between Jews and Christians, ancient Toledo legends and the exile voyages of the Sephardim.

Ana has been able to balance her studies and music projects with her life in Toledo, where she decided to settle in 2001 to resume her music studies. This city where Christians, Jews and Muslims used to live in harmony is a daily source of inspiration for Ana and greatly influences her music, which is commonly described as the ‘Toledo Soundtrack’.

La cantiga del fuego reached the top of the World Music Charts Europe in 2012. Originally a self-release, the album was picked up by British label ARC Music for international release.


Viola de Teclas
Como La Luna y El Sol
La Cantiga del Fuego (ARC Music, 2012)
Tales of Pangea, with Gotrasawala Ensemble (ARC Music EUCD 2601, 2015)
Leyenda (ARC Music EUCD2647, 2016)



Artist Profiles: Amal Murkus

Amal Murkus

Amal Murkus is a Palestinian singer and actress. A citizen of Israel, she was born and raised in the village of Kufer Yasef in the Galilee, and has devoted her career to promoting Palestinian music and culture in Israel and abroad.

Amal’s music is pioneering, creating a post-modern music style in which different Mediterranean influences meet. Her first album “Amal” was released in 1998, and her second, “Shauq” in 2004. Her songs, which take inspiration from Palestinian folklore and traditional Arabic heritage, mingled with pop music elements, express her struggle against the marginalization and exclusion that Arab Palestinian culture faces.

Her first album, self-entitled “Amal” was written and composed by a diverse group of artists and musicians. It was released internationally in 2000 by EMI Hemisphere. Her second album “Shauq” (“Longing”) was recorded live in April 2004, at the Crown Hall in Jerusalem, with the Jerusalem symphonic orchestra.

Amal’s latest album, “Na’ na’ ya Na’ na'” is a bouquet of traditional Palestinian folk songs gathered from the Galilee, the mid-land triangle and the negev, from the distant past and the present, that have survived wars, catastrophes, and major social upheavals. These are songs of struggle and harvest, marriage and birth, songs of joyful women, wanderers and parting couples, that remain forever young.

Amal is a member of the counseling board of FreeMuse, an organization against censorship of art and music. She took an active part in its congress in Denmark in 2003. Amal is currently studying art as a tool for social change in Musrara College in Jerusalem.

Amal has been performing since the age of 5. In 1979 she won first prize in the national Arab children’s song festival, and went on to graduate from the Institute for Stage Art in Tel-Aviv in 1990. An accomplished actress, Amal appears regularly on TV in various educational and cultural programs. Amal has also appeared in feature films and was nominated for the Israeli Oscar for her performance in Ali Nasar’s movie “The Milky Way”. In 2003 Amal won Best Actress in the Haifa Theatre Festival.

Amal also regularly appears on radio, and her cultural program can currently be heard every Friday on Radio ASHAMS 98.1-101FM, from 11.00 – 1.00 (Jerusalem time).

Amal’s extensive vocal range and abilities enable her to sing in a wide variety of genres, ranging from traditional Arab roots to modern popular western styles. As a result, she has created some remarkable collaborations with other artists and international musicians, including Joan Baez in an anti-war concert that took place in Tel-aviv 1988; Marcedes Sosa; Oliver Shante, Germany; Stadio, Italy; the Greek singer Glykeria; Noa; Anwar Ebrahem from Tunisia, Enzo Avetable of Italy; Nani Cayemi in Brazil; Robert White in the UK and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Liverpool (UK) in 2005, and many others. Amal has also completed projects with the Palestinian poets Mahmod Darwesh Nazarth in 2000, Kufer Yasef in 1999, and Sameh Alkasem in 2006.

Amal has received many commendations for her unique art and music and for her work with local communities. In 2001 Amal was chosen by Austrian TV as one of the most beautiful voices of the 20th century, after taking part in a music film produced by the ARTE TV “Premadonas Fest”, by the director-musician Andrew Heller, with Jesse Norman and Harris Alexiou, D.D. Bridgewater and others.


Amal (EMI Hemisphere, 1998)
Shauq (2004)
Na’na’ ya Na’ na’ (2007)
Baghani [I Sing] (2011)


Artist Profiles: Altangerel Khishigtogtokh

Altangerel Khishigtogtokh’s artistic name is Altay. He is a young Mongolian musician who grew up in a musical family in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. A morin huur player and a pianist, Altangerel studied musical theory in Ulaanbaatar and when his college training was complete in the late 1990s, he moved to Moscow for advanced study of composition.

In Moscow, his instrumental skills became known to the Embassy of Mongolia in Russia, and he took part in many events organized by the Embassy in Russia, an also traveled to Finland to participate in a Mongolian exhibition there.

Altay is a member of Namgar


Hatar (Sketis Music, 2003)
Nomad (2008)


Artist Profiles: Allie Mombourquette

Allie Mombourquette

Allison Mombourquette began step dancing at the age of 5. This influenced her decision to begin taking fiddle lessons, which she started at age 8. She joined the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association in 2001, in the hopes of learning more about the music she heard her grandfather play. Through the Association, she has had the opportunity to perform across Canada and in the United Kingdom.

She has been a part of Feis Mhabu since the winter of 2006, which gives young Celtic musicians the opportunity to learn from some of Cape Breton’s finest musicians. Allison has also studied fiddle, piano, and step-dancing at the Gaelic College and been a guest fiddler at he Baddeck Gathering, Normaway Inn and, Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique.

Allison has played together with Natalie MacMaster, Glenn Graham, Andrea Beaton, Ashley MacIsaac, Jerry Holland, J.P. Cormier, and Dave MacIsaac and performed at such events as the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, Edinburgh Castle, Saturday night square dances at the West Mabou Hall, Celtic Colours International Festival, and Friday night ceilidhs in Sloan’s Pub in Glasgow, Scotland.

Allison’s influences include Ciffy Carter, a local musician; Dwayne Cote, JP Cormier, Nickel Creek and Union Station.


Allie Mombourquette