ELKINS – Davis & Elkins College will host Mosaic Interactive, an international music collaboration, for a series of cultural and artistic events March 10 through 16. Presented by the Morrison-Novakovic Center for Faith and Public Policy and D&E Appalachian Ensemble, the free public activities include a panel discussion and musical performance.
Participating artists are Ben Townsend of Hampshire County, West Virginia; Ali Tekbas of Istanbul, Turkey; Eva Salina of Brooklyn, New York; Mehdi Nassouli of Morocco, Africa; Peni Candra Rini of Surakarta, Indonesia; Zafer Tawil of Palestine; Alexia Webster of Johannesburg, South Africa; Kyla Rose Smith of Johannesburg, South Africa; Chris Marianetti of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Jeremy Thal of Madison, Wisconsin; Elena Moon Park of Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Gideon Crevoshay of Vermont. The project is supported by a production team that includes Ezra Tenenbaum, Chris Botta, Ashley Tata and Eamonn Farrell. Together they celebrate the power of cross-cultural collaboration.
“Mosaic artists come from a constellation of religious and cultural backgrounds,” according to a statement from hosting organization Found Sound Nation. “Together, they explore stories of what we as humans hold sacred, and how we pass this along to future generations. They have collaborated to create a suite of interdisciplinary pieces that explore our collective dreams, memories and rituals through song and storytelling from around the globe.”
Their upcoming tour of West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and eastern Tennessee will feature a premier performance that tells stories that connect us all as human beings. Artists will spend one week in each location, performing and participating in community-led public events, dances, musical jams and potlucks.
A panel discussion titled “Mosaic Jam: Art, Music, Imagination and Identity” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 13 at Graceland Inn on the D&E campus. The topic will focus on music, rituals, dreams and memories with Townsend, Nassouli, Rini, Tekbas and Salina.
A musical performance is set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14 in Robbins Memorial Chapel. Themes will focus on dreams, memory and ritual.
Mosaic artists will participate in a music and dance share for the Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College monthly square dance on Friday, March 15 in the Creative Commons of Myles Center for the Arts. A beginners workshop is slated for 7:45 p.m. and the dance starts at 8 p.m.
Mosaic Interactive is made possible through the organizational and visionary efforts of Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation, an organization dedicated to building community across cultural divides through the co-creation of original music. Found Sound Nation partners with local youth, social organizations, music festivals and artists across all disciplines.
“Our aim is to enliven a global conversation about how creative collaboration in music can address issues we face locally and collectively, while making the world a funkier and more harmonious place,” a statement from FSN reads.
In addition to the public activities, Mosaic artists will visit Davis & Elkins College classes, and work with Appalachian Ensemble students to conduct music, dance and food shares. While in Elkins, the artists will develop work inspired by the Monongahela National Forest.
“It is very exciting to welcome these artists to West Virginia, and share the rich culture of our region,” said Augusta Heritage Center Events Coordinator Becky Hill. “I had the honor of working with Found Sound Nation on their Onebeat project this past fall, and I can’t speak highly enough of the musical collaborations and the level of artistic ability. I encourage everyone to try and catch one of the public events. It will truly open your mind to the world and give you hope for the future.”
Mosaic Interactive is supported by the Building Bridges program of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. Additional residency support is provided by the Pocantico Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Local support is provided by the Morrison-Novakovic Center for Faith and Public Policy at Davis & Elkins College, Davis & Elkins College Appalachian Ensemble and Saranam Retreat Center, Inc.
Born and raised in West Virginia, multi-instrumentalist Ben Townsend has studied and performed traditional Appalachian music extensively. With banjo mentors such as Riley Baugus and Ron Mullennex, and fiddle mentors such as Dave Bing, Joe Herrmann and Earl White, Townsend has studied a variety of old-time traditions ranging from the archaic. He also serves as Augusta Heritage Center’s October Old-Time Week Coordinator.
Mehdi Nassouli is a Moroccan guembri player whose passion for preserving Moroccan music is matched by his energetic and engaging stage presence. Growing up in Taroudant, Nassouli was immersed in traditional Gnawa culture, a spiritual music of ancient and rich African heritage. Nassouli devoted himself to studying deqqa, a traditional form of art from Taroudant, and spent nearly a decade learning traditional musical styles across Morocco.
Peni Candra Rini
Peni Candra Rini is an accomplished composer, educator and one of few female contemporary vocalists performing sindhen, a female soloist style of singing found in Indonesia. Strongly committed to preserving and sharing the gamelan musical traditions of her country, Rini has collaborated with acclaimed artists from within and outside Indonesia.
Ali Tekbas is a vocalist and composer based in Istanbul, Turkey. Born in Iraq, Tekbas was forced to migrate to Turkey. He investigated the roots of traditional Hakkari music and began to compose and perform original music inspired by the Hakkari traditions, leading to the formation of his band LaWje.
Brooklyn-based Eva Salina is a groundbreaking interpreter of Balkan Romani songs. Salina’s mentors are some of the greatest living Balkan musicians. A passionate activist for dialogue and mutual understanding, and an advocate for women in traditional music, Salina is committed to a life of collaboration and evolving musical traditions.
An accomplished Palestinian musician based in New York City, Zafer Tawil is a virtuoso on oud, violin and qanoun, and is a master of Arabic percussion. He has performed with numerous musicians, ranging from Sting to avant-garde composer/performer Elliot Sharpe to masters of Arabic music. He also has composed music for a number of film soundtracks.
Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.