The Nile Project

Date & Time: 
Friday, April 21, 2017 - 7:00pm - 10:00pm

Nile Project photoIntroduced by local Hudson River water warriors, including Maureen Cuningham from Hudson River Watershed Alliance.

An ensemble of 13 musicians arel touring the United States from January to April of 2017, including this stop at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy.

"The Nile Project is more than a band," exclaims Kenyan percussionist/vocalist and Nile Project musician Kasiva Mutua.  “This is something completely new. The way we combine collaboration and education is revolutionary—not only here at home in the Nile River but everywhere we’ve been."

One of the tightest cross­-cultural collaborations in musical history, the Nile Project brings together artists from the 11 Nile countries, representing over 450 million people, to compose new songs that combine the rich diversity of one of the oldest places on Earth. Kindred harps and resonant lyres from the river’s sources in East Africa and Ethiopia to its deltas in Sudan and Egypt have reunited to learn new musical modes while buzzing timbres and ingenious polyrhythms support vocals in more than ten languages.

On the surface, the Nile Project blends traditional musical idioms into one seamless Nile sound. But look a little further and you’ll begin to see an ensemble of musicians modeling contemporary organizational concepts such as systems thinking, network theory, and participatory leadership. The Nile Project is pioneering a new approach to transform transboundary water conflicts by using music to ignite cross­-cultural empathy and spark environmental curiosity. And its collaborative model offers a blueprint for new ways in which Nile citizens can organize themselves to strengthen the sustainability of their river.

To craft this music, Egyptian and Ethiopian artists have mastered each other's’ modal systems. A Burundian bassist has become the foundation within head-spinning Ugandan rhythms. Instruments that parted ways millennia before are reunited and pushed into new tunings. Old love songs and lullabies have crossed geographical and linguistic barriers to forge unexpected tunes and improbable friendships.

Creating together, with the role of lead and soloist rotating among the ensemble members, the Nile Project Collective has crafted emotionally stirring, musically complex pieces that weave together over the course of a concert into one long and shifting composition. This work serves as a rallying point to draw more and more people from more and more places into a meaningful conversation, where love and art intertwine with politics, history, ecology, and commerce.

Yet it all starts with sound, and with listening. “I feel like I am just beginning to be aware of what we are facing in the Nile Basin. It is difficult. We need to listen to each other,” explains Egyptian vocalist Saleeb Fawzy. “Listening is the basis for understanding.”