Hearing Histories-Traditions: Music of African and African Diasporas in Performance and Dialogue
This panel, moderated by Gwyneth Bravo (NYU Abu Dhabi), features presentations by award-winning Liberian-Norwegian pianist and scholar Kamilla Arku (Yale University, Royal Northern College of Music; NYU) and Grammy-nominated composer and educator Jimmy Kachulis (Berklee College of Music). Engaging with the richness of African musical traditions, as well as responding to histories of dislocation and rupture that have shaped the cultural engagement of African diasporas, these scholar-performers draw on a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary framework to address how music education, composition, and performance become sites for the transformation and transmission of cultural traditions and music in diverse past and present contexts. The panel features a 35-minute presentation and performance by each presenter, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with the audience.
Kamilla Arku, Liberian-Norwegian pianist, draws on her diverse background as inspiration for her work as a performer and educator. 2021 saw her perform for the Royal Opera House and the Florence Price International Festival, as well as collaborate with choreographer Claudia Schreier for Works & Process at the Guggenheim. In the upcoming season, she looks forward to performances in Africa and Europe, as well as working with a collective of Black female musicians and filmmakers for the First Step project. Kamilla is also the founder and Director of charity Music for Liberia, a charity supporting young people in Liberia through music-based fundraising. Kamilla is a graduate of Yale University and the Royal Northern College of Music, and is currently a PhD student in Musicology at New York University.
Jimmy Kachulis is an award winning composer, songwriter, educator, scholar, and performer. His concert music blending world music and European forms has won numerous international awards. His performing, writing, and conducting experience includes work with legendary jazz, world music, R&B, and early music artists including John Lewis, Jon Hendricks, Martha Reeves, George Coleman, Stuff, Eric Gale, Richard Taruskin, Paul Maynard, and Russell Oberlin. Professor Kachulis has pioneered the programs in songwriting and world music at the world renowned Berklee College of Music, creating the first World Music courses at that institution. He has also created songwriting courses at Berklee Online, books for Berklee Press, and taught at Tufts University, The Boston Conservatory, and Emerson College. His freelance career included Broadway shows, as well as gigs with Greek, Brazilian, Irish, Salsa, and Italian bands in the NYC area. His ethnomusicological research resulted in previously unknown polyphonic, harmonic, melodic, rhythmic and structural aspects of traditional African music. In addition, he has studied Indian music and Balkan music in depth.