The Nile Project

Date & Time: 
Friday, April 21, 2017 - 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Admission: 
$15

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

An ensemble of 13 musicians are  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.”

The Hudson River Water Warriors:

Scott Kellogg is the Educational Director at the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center, an urban environmental educational center in the South End of Albany, NY (www.radixcenter.org ). Radix is a one-acre farm that demonstrates aquaponics, microlivestock, solar bioshelters, composting, mushroom production, rainwater collection and runs a youth centered CSA and farmer’s market program. He has a Masters in Environmental Science and Policy from Johns Hopkins University and is an appointed member of Albany's Sustainability Advisory Committee and the chair of its urban agriculture subcommittee. He is presently a Ph.D. candidate in Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is in the midst of writing his dissertation.

Chris Bowser coordinates education programs for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Hudson River Estuary Program and National Estuarine Research Reserve, in partnership with Cornell University’s Water Resource Institute. His mission is to get everyone to the river through student-centered fieldwork, public programs, teacher training, and community-science initiatives. http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/5102.html

His experiences include serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Sahara Desert, educating students aboard the Sloop Clearwater, and teaching environmental science at Marist and Bard Colleges.

Maureen Cunningham has served as the Executive Director of the Hudson River Watershed Alliance since 2013, where she works to support a network of grassroots watershed groups and communities protecting water resources in throughout the Hudson Valley. Prior to joining the Alliance, Maureen focused on international conservation and community development. She worked with Rare in Washington, DC, where she managed their social marketing, public use planning and community-based ecotourism programs in various countries, first as Director of their World Heritage Partnership and later as Director of Rare Radio. Maureen’s academic training includes a Master of Environmental Management with a focus on community-based natural resource policy and management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from The American University School of International Service, and she speaks Spanish and French. A native of Upstate New York, Maureen now lives with her husband and two sons in Delmar in Albany County. After so many years working internationally, she is now happy to be involved in local projects both at the Hudson River Watershed Alliance and also as a volunteer on the Board of Directors of the Friends of Five Rivers, the Town of Bethlehem Conservation Easement Review Board as well as with various PTA and youth activities in Delmar.

Manna Jo Greene, Clearwater’s Environmental Action Director since 2000, was formerly the Recycling Coordinator/Educator for the Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency for more than 10 years and a registered Critical Care Nurse for 22 years. She holds an AAS in Nursing, a BA in biology (pre-med) from SUNY/New Paltz, and completed course work toward a Masters in Environmental Sciences at Bard College. A lifelong environmental professional and community activist, Manna avidly supports collaborative land use planning and problem-solving. Working to promote sustainable agriculture and green building and landscaping practices, she teaches communities how to integrate environmental preservation, economic prosperity (based on the quality of life indicators), and social equity using effective communication. Manna also serves as Ulster County Legislator from District 19, Towns of Rosendale and Marbletown.