32 Broadway, Suite 1314 • New York, NY 10004 • Tel: 212-571-1555 • traditions@ctmd.org

Previous Community Cultural Initiatives

For forty years, the Center for Traditional Music and Dance (previously known as the Balkan Arts Center and the Ethnic Folk Arts Center) has worked in partnership with New York’s immigrant and ethnic communities to maintain the vibrancy of performing arts traditions. We are grateful for the work of thousands of artists, educators, cultural activists, ensembles and organizations who have performed in CTMD’s concerts, taught workshops and classes, participated in lectures and symposia, or assisted in developing programs, ancillary materials and community outreach.
 
A historical look at CTMD’s work in various New York-based ethnic communities follows, including lists of key project partners (due to limits of space and memory, lists are far from exhaustive):

Mexican Community Cultural Initiative
Filipino Community Cultural Initiative
Soviet Jewish Community Cultural Initiative
West African Community Cultural Initiative
Indo-Caribbean Community Cultural Initiative
Asian-Indian Community Cultural Initiative
Dominican Community Cultural Initiative
Arab Community Cultural Initiative
Albanian Community Cultural Initiative
Puerto Rican Community
Irish Community
Italian Community
Jewish Community
Greek Community
 
Mexican Community Cultural Initiative (2000 – 2008)
 
CTMD’s work in New York’s rapidly growing Mexican community resulted in the creation of two new community-led cultural organizations. Both the Mariachi Academy of New York and Mano a Mano: Mexican Culture Without Borders have recently been honored with prestigious Union Square Awards from the Tides Foundation in recognition of innovation in grass-roots community organizing.
 
The Mariachi Academy of New York was founded in 2002 as the first such academy for youth on the East Coast. Based in Spanish Harlem, the Academy teaches Mariachi repertoire, instrumental technique, song, and ensemble performance to a talented group of ninety-five youth. The Marachi Academy’s popular touring ensemble performs at community events around the city, and recently performed a set with Mexican superstar Lila Downs in a concert at Town Hall! The Mariachi Academy received its 501(c)(3) not-for-profit certification in 2008 and is directed by Ramon Ponce, Jr., leader of the ensemble Mariachi Real de Mexico.   
 
Click here to go to the Mariachi Academy’s website.
 
Mano a Mano: Cultura Mexicana Sin Fronteras (Hand in Hand: Mexican Culture Without Borders) was created in 2000 and is dedicated to celebrating Mexican culture in the United States and promoting the understanding of Mexican traditions among immigrants, artists, educators and the general public. Mano a Mano partners with leading international organizations, museums, and local cultural partners to create landmark events and celebrations of Mexican culture. Mano a Mano received its 501(c)(3) not-for-profit certification in 2006 and is directed by folklorist Emily Socolov, Ph.D., a specialist in Mexican cultural traditions.
 
Click here to go to Mano a Mano’s website.
 
Key Artists, Ensembles and Collaborators:
• Ballet Folklórico Mexicano de Nueva York – music and dance ensemble
• Bola Suriana – music ensemble from Michoacán
• Adriana Caballero – cultural activist
• Calpulli Mexican Dance Company
• Juan Castaño – dancer
• Cetizlizti Nahuacampa Quetzalcóatl en Ixachitlan – dance group
• Ita Chavez-Geller – Coordinator of Mariachi Academy
• Concheros Citlaltonac de la Mesa del Santo Niño de Atocha – sacred dance group
• Miguel Cossio – graphic designer, crafts specialist
• B-Girl Anita “Rokafella” Garcia – dancer
• Conjunto Hueyapan – son jarocho ensemble
• DF Crew – visual artists
• Los Diamantes de Puebla – norteña ensemble
• DJ Sloe Poke – DJ
• Estampa y Tradiciones – dance ensemble
• Mayra García – cultural activist
• Yolanda García - singer
• Enrique Gonzalez – photographer
• Antonia Guerrero – cultural activist
• Gabrial Guzmán – cultural activist
• J.R. – hip hop MC
• Mayra Vargas de Kiesling – cultural activist
• Margarita Larios – culinary specialist
• Yolanda Leticia – singer
• Alfredo (El Centuaro) Lima – guitarist, singer
• Estela López – cultural activist
• Humberto López - violinist
• Caridad “la Bruja” De La Luz – hip hop artist
• Mariachi Aguila y Plata
• Mariachi Association of New York
• Mariachi Real de Mexico
• Aurelia Fernández Marure – dancer, craft specialist
• Mexico Beyond Mariachi
• Los Niños del East Harlem – dance company
• Leslie Ogan – program volunteer
• Renzo Ortega – visual artist, musician
• Felipe Ortega-Gómez
• Ramón Ponce, Jr. – guitarrón (large guitar) guitar, vihuela (small guitar), Director of Mariachi Academy
• Ramón Ponce, Sr. – trumpet
• Aldo “BocaFloja” Villegas Pozos – hip hop MC
• Cathy Ragland, Ph.D. – ethnomusicologist, CTMD Project Director
• Alda Reuter – dancer
• Lucia Rojas – cultural activist
• Zafiro Zatzin Romero – graphic designer
• Guadalupe Ross – singer
• Veronica Hernandez Shusman – cultural activist
• Ernesto Villalobo - violinist
• Semilla – son jarocho ensemble
• Robert Smith, Ph.D. - sociologist
• Emily Socolov, Ph.D. – folklorist, CTMD Project Director
• Sones de Mexico – son ensemble
• Suspenso del Norte – norteño ensemble
• Guillermo Velázquez y los Leones de la Sierra de Xichú – son arribeño ensemble
• Youth Ballet Casa Mexico – youth dance ensemble
• Alejandro Zarate – craft specialist
 
 
Filipino Community Cultural Initiative (2000-2003)
 
The New York metropolitan area is home to over 200,000 individuals of Filipino descent. Large numbers have immigrated in search of work in particular industries, notably health care. Filipino community culture is a synthesis of many cultural and political influences, all mitigated by a distinct Filipino sensibility. In New York, one can find performers and ensembles performing Spanish-influenced jota dance and rondalla string music, Islamic-influenced forms, as well as pre-colonial indigenous performance arts.
 
CTMD’s Filipino CCI, Pagbubunyi, which translates as “To Celebrate with Pride, Honor and to Hold in Highest Esteem,” produced three annual festivals of Filipino culture, featuring concerts, workshops, exhibits and vendors representing Philippine regional cultures. 
 
Key Artists, Ensembles and Collaborators:
• Alay Philippine Performing Arts
• Asia Society
• Association of Filipino Teachers of America
• Bibak – Igorot music and dance
• Usoday Hamdag Cadar – kolintang musician
• Julia Camagong – cultural activist
• Cultural Arts Dance Company of the Philippines
• Michael Dadap – composer, guitarist
• Folkorico Filipino – rural folkdance
• Brother Julian Jagudilla – cultural activist
• Danongan Kalanduyan – music of the Southern Philippines
• Kayumanggi Chorale
• Bayani Mendoza De Leon – composer, ethnomusicologist
• Paaralang Pilipino Rondalla – rondalla ensemble
• Performing Arts Philippines
• Potri Ranka Manis - dancer
• Mindanao Kulintang Ensemble – kulintang music and dance ensemble
• Philippine Dance Company of New  York
• Philipine Forum
• Jane Orendain - dancer
• Kinding Sindaw – Maranao music and dance
• Joel Singer – cultural activist
• Benny Sokong – Kalinga music and dance
• Tom Van Buren, Ph.D. – CTMD Project Director and ethnomusicologist
• University of the Philippines Alumni and Friends Rondalla – rondalla ensemble
• Vivian Velasco - dancer

 
Soviet Jewish Community Cultural Initiative (1997-2002)
 
Entitled “Nashi Traditsii” (“Our Traditions”), the Soviet Jewish CCI was directed by the noted klezmer performer/researcher Michael Alpert and was targeted to serving three distinct Jewish communities that had emigrated from the former Soviet Union—the Bukharan (Uzbekistan/Tajikistan) community, centered in Rego Park, Queens; the Mountain Jewish (Azerbaijan and Dagestan) community, centered along Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn; and, the Ashkenazic (East European) community, centered in Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.
 
Annual workshops and concerts were produced through the CCI, with programs taking place at diverse community and general public venues such as the Shorefront YM-YWHA Jewish community center in Brighton Beach, Restaurant Raphael in Rego Park, and culminated with a large-scale public concert at the Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse.
 
Through Nashi Traditsii and related projects, CTMD’s work in these communities has had a number of important legacies. CTMD assisted Ensemble Shashmaqam Ensemble (Bukharan Jewish) to develop as a performing group, gain 501(c)(3) status, and tour nationally. In the Mountain Jewish community, Nashi Traditsii helped spark the work of AZEM, a Mountain Jewish cultural group in Brooklyn, and the Kavkaz youth dance organization. Additionally, Nashi Traditsii brought to prominence clarinetist German Goldenshteyn, who would go on to inspire a generation of young musicians around the world to perform his Bessarabian klezmer repertoire. Goldenshteyn had meticulously transcribed over 800 melodies in notebooks, many of them not known from other sources, before his untimely death in 2006.
 
CTMD has worked with Dartmouth College ethnomusicologist Theodore Levin to produce two recordings presenting Central Asian Jewish performers in New York: Music of the Bukharan Jewish Ensemble Shashmaqam (Smithsonian Folkways, 1991) and At the Bazaar of Love (Shanachie, 1997), featuring Ilyas Malayev.  Additionally, CTMD produced a national tour of the Shashmaqam ensemble during 1993 and 1994.
 
Key Artists, Ensembles and Collaborators:
• Yakov Abramov – Mountain Jewish community activist
• Michael Alpert – Project Director, singer, dancer, multi-instrumentalist
• Tavris Aronova – Bukharan cultural activist
• Toyvye Birnbaum – performer of badkhones (recitations of wedding jester)
• Emily Botein - CTMD Program Associate
• Carol Freeman – singer, ethnographer
• German Goldenstheyn – klezmer clarinetist
• Mina Goldenshteyn – culinary specialist
• Gabrielle Hamilton- CTMD Program Associate and folklorist
• Eve Jochnowitz – culinary ethnographer
• Rita Kagan – music educator, Shorefront YM-YWHA
• David Krakauer - clarinetist
• Fatima Kuinova – Bukharan singer, NEA National Heritage Fellow
• Shumiel Kuyenov – percussionist, leader of Ensemble Shashmaqam
• Theodore Levin, Ph.D. - ethnomusicologist
• James Loeffler, Ph.D. – ethnomusicologist
• Ezra Malakov – singer
• Ilyas Malayev – singer, tar (lute) player
• Avrum Itskhok Moskovitz - cantor
• Hirsh Riklman – accordionist, singer
• Shashmaqam – Bukharan Jewish ensemble
• Shorefront YM-YWHA
• Teresa Yelizarova – Mountain Jewish singer
• Jeffrey Wollock, Ph.D. – violinist, ethnomusicologist
 
West African Community Cultural Initiative (1996-2000)
 
The West African Community Cultural Initiative, Badenya (literally, “Being of One Mother”), documented and presented the music, dance and poetry of Mandeng and Wolof  immigrants from the countries of Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Gambia and Guinea-Bissau.
 
CTMD produced four major concerts of African music at major public venues including John Jay College, City Center, Teatro Heckscher at El Museo del Barrio and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. The Badenya Festivals featured New York-based performers alongside major artists from overseas including the Senegalese sabar drummer/dancer Doudou N’Diaye Rose and the late South African singer Miriam Makeba. An earlier concert at the Brooklyn Museum in 1996 featured the Music and Dance Traditions of Ghana.
 
CTMD produced the CD Badenya: Manden Music in New York City which was released as part of the Global Beat of the Boroughs series on the Smithsonian Folkways label in 2002. The CCI enabled Kewulay Kamara to found the independent non-profit Organization of Badenya in America.
 
Click here to go to Badenya’s website
 
Key Artists, Ensembles and Collaborators:
• African Heartbeat - Yoruba drummers from Western Nigeria
• Les Ballets Bagata – dance company
• M’Bemba Bangoura – drummer
• Marie Basse – sabar dancer from Senegal
• Keba Bobo Cissoko – jali, kora (West African harp) player from Guinea-Bissau
• Adjaratou “Tapani” Cissoko – singer from Mali
• Sidiki Conde – dancer, singer from Guinea
• Jayne Cortez - poet
• Abdoulaye Diabate – jali (praise singer), guitarist from Mali
• Vado Diamonde – dancer, percussionist from Ivory Coast
• Famoro Dioubate – balafon (marimba) player from Guinea
• Mar Gueye – sabar drummer from Senegal
• Kabajo – ensemble performing highlife music of Ghana
• Badou Kasse - percussionist
• Kewulay Kamara – Artistic Director, fina (poet) from Sierra  Leone
• Kotchegna Dance Company – dance of Ivory Coast
• Youssouf Koumbassa – dancer, choreographer, drummer, singer
• Sekouba Kandia Kouyate – jali from Guinea
• Les Merveilles de Guinée – Dance company from Guinea
• Miriam Makeba – South African singer
• Mamadou Niang – filmmaker
• Novisi Cultural Troupe – percussion, dance and song ensemble of Ghana
• Ayo Osinibi – cultural advocate
• Doudou N’Diaye Rose – sabar dancer/drummer from Senegal
• Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
• Mahamadou Suso – kora player and singer from Gambia
• Abou Sylla – balafon (marimba) player from Guinea
• Tom Van Buren, Ph.D. – Ethnomusicologist, CTMD Project Director
 
Indo-Caribbean Community Cultural Initiative (1997-1999)
 
CTMD worked with the Queens-based Rajkumari Center to found and present the annual Kitchrie Festival of Indo-Caribbean Arts and Culture. Kitchrie is the first festival celebrating the culture and arts of the Indo-Caribbean communities from Guyana, Trinidad and Suriname in the tri-state area.
 
Although Guyana and Suriname are South American mainland countries, they are grouped with the island states of the Caribbean region because of a common historical experience of European colonialism, African slavery and Indian indentured labor, transplanted ancestral cultures and modern nationalism. 
 
Rich varieties of culture and arts were brought to these Caribbean countries by indentured plantation laborers in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  The overwhelming majority of them came from the Hindi Bhojpuri region of North India, modern Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, with a much smaller group from South India.  
 
The Kitchrie Festival continues annually, produced independently since 2000 by the Rajkumari Center. In addition to presentations and lectures, dance workshops have had a major impact in revitalizing Indo-Caribbean dance in New York City. 
 
Key Artists, Ensembles and Collaborators:
• Denyse Baboolal – choreographer, dancer
• Baithak Ki Gana – Surinamese musical ensemble
• Errol Balkissoon – singer, musician
• Sampat Dino Boodram - singer, harmonium player
• Ustad Kalush Budhu
• Guru Bharat Dass – singer, musician
• Hindu Women Singers
• Teshrie Kalicharran – dancer, choreographer
• Ramona Kalicharran – dancer, choreographer
• Bonnie Kirk – music educator, singer
• Shrimati Manraji Lachman – Indo-Surinamese singer, musician
• Mahatma Gandhi Satsangh Society Chowtal Group
• Nagara Dance Group
• Raja Naraine
• Prem Sangeet – musical ensemble
• Shrimati Bhagu Ragbir
• Ethel Raim – CTMD Executive and Artistic Director
• Gora Singh - dancer
• Karna Singh – cultural historian
• Prita Singh –Director of Rajkumari Center, dancer, choreographer
• Radha Singh – choreographer, dancer
• Tassa Explosion
• Tom Van Buren – ethnomusicologist, CTMD Project Director
 
Asian-Indian Community Cultural Initiative (1996)
 
The Asian-Indian Community Cultural Initiative was refocused after one year into the Indo-Caribbean Community Cultural Initiative. A year of research and documentation of major New York-based performers and artistic genres culminated in the presentation of the Dance India festival at Hunter College’s Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse as well as a major symposium entitled “Ancient Roots, Contemporary Flowers: A Symposium on the Teaching and Performance of Indian Dance in America.”
 
The Dance India festival represented the first major presentation in the U.S. of contemporary forms of Punjabi bhangra music and dance, which developed in the United Kingdom, and helped propel the career of the U.S.’s leading contemporary Bhangra artist, DJ Rekha. 
 
Key Artists, Ensembles and Collaborators:
• Assam Society of America – Bihu dance
• Bhangra Group – traditional bhangra music dance
• Bina Menon Group – filmi (film) dance
• DJ Joy – bhangra DJ
• DJ Rekha – bhangra DJ
• Barbara Hampton, Ph.D. - ethnomusicologist
• Meriam Lobel – Artistic Director, dance ethnographer, dancer
• Sunita Mukhi – cultural advocate
• punjabi by nature – Canadian contemporary bhangra ensemble
• Janaki Patrik – kathak dancer
• Venantius Pinto – graphic artist
• Rajkumari  Center for Indocaribbean Arts and Culture
• Gora Singh - dancer
• Prita Singh – Director of Rajkumari Center, dancer 
 
Dominican Community Cultural Initiative (1996-1999)
 
Since the late 1960s, there has been a significant ongoing emigration of Dominicans to the US, and particularly to New York City.  Over a half million Dominicans live in the five boroughs, with a large concentration in Washington Heights, often referred to by insiders as “Quisqueya Hights” (“Quisqueya” is the taíno name for the Dominican Republic).
 
CTMD’s research into the practice of Dominican traditional arts was assisted by students at Lehman College, under the direction of ethnomusicologist Professor Martha Ellen Davis. In January 1996, a concert of Salves, Palos and Poetry celebrating Dominican Catholic folk traditions was presented at Hostos Center for Arts and Culture in the Bronx.  In June 1996, CTMD presented the first Quisqueya en el Hudson Festival of Dominican Arts, Music and Dance at Highbridge Park in Manhattan’s Washington Heights. 
 
The Quisqueya en el Hudson Festival continues to this day as the major performing arts festival for New York’s Dominican community. In 2004, CTMD worked with Ivan Dominguez to produce the CD Quisqueya en el Hudson: Dominican Music in New York as part of the Global Beat of the Boroughs series on Smithsonian Folkways.
 
Key Artists, Ensembles and Collaborators:
• Anthony Stevens Acevado – educator, cultural activist
• Nita Adames – cultural activist
• Los Migos Del Ritmo – Afro-Dominican ensemble
• Asadifé- Afro-Dominican ensemble
• Roberto (Berto) Aybar – percussionist, singer
• Alianza Dominicana
• Bachata Mix – merengue and bachata ensemble
• Bachata Pura – Bachata ensemble
• Emily Botein – CTMD Program Associate
• Sage Canela – hip-hop singer
• Sol Canela – hip-hop singer
• Guillermo Cárdenas – drummer
• Rafaela Capellan – visual artist, video producer
• Community Association of Progressive Dominicans
• Conjunto Folklórico de la Alianza Dominicana – youth ensemble
• David-David - percussionist
• Martha Ellen Davis, Ph.D. - Ethnomusicologist
• Luis Dias – guitarist, singer
• Dja Ra Ra – Haitian musical group
• Ivan Dominguez – ethnomusicologist, musician
• Ecocumbe – Afro-Dominican music and dance ensemble
• Rafael Fland - musician
• Claudio Fortunato y Su Guededes – singers of Salves religious songs
• Gustongo Son – son ensemble
• Dagoberto Lopez – writer, poet, cultural activist
• Bienvenido Marti y Su Bachata – Bachata musicians
• Vivian Martinez – cultural activist
• Querube Ortis – accordion
• Genaro Ozuna – dancer
• Coco Merenson – son and merengue ensemble
• Pa’lo Monte – Palos ensemble
• Fidelina Pascual - accordion
• Nina Paulino – cultural activist
• Rafael Peralta – decima (rhymed verse) reciter
• José Pujols y su Conjunto Típico Tradicional – merengue ensemble
• Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
• Sonnice – son ensemble
• Ricardo Ureña – dance teacher, Director of Batey organization
• Juan Valoy – carnival mask maker
• Tom Van Buren, Ph.D.  – CTMD Project Director, ethnomusicologist 
 
Arab Community Cultural Initiative (1994-1998)
 
New York City has long been a major center for Arabic musical activity dating back to the 1920s when Syrian, Lebanese and Palestinian musicians performed their own regional styles. In recent years, Arabic-speakers emigrating from a diversity of locales have put demands on musicians to perform a vast and elaborate repertoire of music from every Arab country.
 
The Arab Community Cultural Initiative worked to document and present the music and dance traditions of the diverse Arabic-speaking communities of the New York metropolitan area.  The annual Maharajan Al-Fan Festival of Arab World Culture, produced at the Brooklyn Museum, presented a wide range of musical styles drawn from Arabic classical, folk and urban popular repertoires.
 
The Maharajan Al-Fan Festivals featured the Near Eastern Music Ensemble, led by ‘ud  (lute) player and violinist Simon Shaheen, a 1994 recipient of the National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts.            
 
Key Artists, Ensembles and Collaborators:
• Al-Watan Palestinian Dance Company
• Anton “Tony” Abdel Ahad – ‘ud player and singer, US born of Syrian-Lebanese heritage
• Mansour Ajami – poet, singer, ‘ud player from Lebanon
• Lamea Abbas Amara – poet from Iraq
• Yitzhak Awami – dancer from Yemen
• Barbara Nimri Aziz – poet
• Inea Bushnaq – poet, story teller from Palestine
• Ibrahim Farrah – dancer
• Fahim Dandan – ‘ud player, singer from Palestine
• Ramiz El-Edlibi – dancer, choreographer from Lebanon
• Hamza El Din – composer, painter, ethnomusicologist from Egypt
• Ghassan Fadlallah – dancer from Lebanon
• Sabah Fakhri – vocalist from Syria
• Ghada Ghanem – singer from Lebanon
• Nimet Habachy – emcee
• Paula Hajar – historian, cultural activist
• Samia Halaby – painter from Palestine
• Hanan – singer from Lebanon
• Radwan al-Hares – singer, percussionist from Morocco
• Samuel Hazo – poet
• Lawrence Joseph – poet, US born of Syrian-Lebanese heritage
• Kahraman – singer from Lebanon
• Youssef Kassab – singer from Syria
• Abdel Wahab Kawkabani – singer, ‘ud player from Yemen
• Habib Nabeeh Khoury – graphic designer
• Eddie Kochak – dumbek (drum) player, cultural activist, US born of Syrian heritage
• Ziad Mansouri – cultural activist
• Matar Dabkeh Group – Lebanese dance group
• Na’im Moussa – Assyrian church singer from Syria
• Farah and Hanan Munayyer
• Near Eastern Music Ensemble
• Naomi Shihab Nye – poet
• Hakki Obadia – violinist, ‘ud player from Iraq
• Ali Jihad Racy, Ph. D. – ethnomusicologist, performer on buzuq (lute), rababah (spike fiddle) and mizwizz (double reed flute) from Lebanon
• Souhad Ameen Rafey – cultural activist
• Stanley Rashid – cultural activist, proprietor of Rashid Music Sales
• Anne Rasmussen, Ph. D. – ethnomusicologist
• Magda Saleh, Ph. D. – dancer, dance ethnographer from Egypt
• Yousseff Abdul Samad – poet from Lebanon
• Erika Sanger – Brooklyn  Museum
• Deborah Schwartz – Brooklyn  Museum
• Simon Shaheen – Artistic Director, ‘ud player, violinist from Palestine
• Yousry Sharif – dancer, choreographer from Egypt
• Philip Schulyer, Ph. D. – ethnomusicologist
• Naji Youssef – Melkite church singer from Lebanon
• Akram Zaatari -  cultural activist
 
Albanian Community Cultural Initiative
 
Albanians began to immigrate to the US shortly after the turn of the 20th century. The first to come were Christian Tosk men from southern Albania who took jobs in factories and restaurants, intending to return to the home country. Following WWI, Tosk families, both Christian and Muslim, from southern Albania and Slavic Macedonia, began to emigrate with the intent of staying in North America. The majority of immigrant Tosks originally settled in Manhattan, and later moved out to Queens, Long Island and Paterson, NJ.
 
Ethnic Gegs from northern Albania and Montenegro began to settle in New York after WWII.  Some were political refugees from Albania, and others were Catholics from the Yugoslav Republic of Montenegro. More recently, in response to political and economic developments at home, Muslim Gegs from Kosova have come in large numbers, creating community hubs in Paterson, Staten Island, Yonkers, the Bronx (along Arthur Avenue) and Westchester County.
 
Beginning in 1991, CTMD worked with a number of community members to found the annual Festival Shqiptar (Albanian Festival) at Lehman Center for the Performing Arts in the Bronx, as well as a number of smaller concerts of music and dance around the metropolitan area. Today produced independently by community members, Festival Shqiptar continues to be the centerpiece of the New York Albanian community’s cultural calendar. 
 
Key Artists, Ensembles and Collaborators:
• Bill Aguado – Bronx Council on the Arts
• Justina Aliaj – singer, actress
• Besniket – musical group from Kosova
• Luan Borova – accordion, director of Orchestra Rozafati
• Mukadese Çanga - singer
• Marjan Cubi – cultural activist
• Cultural Association “28 November” Dance Group
• Riza Daci – singer
• Dance Group of the Albanian Fund of Paterson
• Gjon Dedvukaj – singer, songwriter, çifteli (2 stringed lute)
• Bajrush Doda – singer
• Ferik Duka – dancer
• Tomë Dushaj – çifteli
• Muhamet Elezi – singer
• Burim Fida – çifteli and singer
• Fisniket Orchestra
• Folk Ensemble Rugova
• Eli Gjezo – singer
• Nick Zefi Gjuravçaj – cultural activist
• Enrico Granafaie – Arbëresh singer
• Merita Halili - singer
• Valdet Hasanaj – sharki (plucked lute), çifteli and violin
• Raif Hyseni - accordion
• Xhevedet Januzi – stage designer
• Rakipe Kalaja - singer
• Besnik Kasa – actor, comedienne
• Edip Kaziu – dancer
• Resmije Kida - singer
• Rifat Kida – çifteli, singer
• Lush Koçaj – singer
• Martin Koenig – CTMD co-Director
• Agim Krajka – composer, band leader
• Muhamet “Arben” Krasniqi – singer, çifteli
• Shefqet Krasniqi - singer
• Lehman  Center for the Performing Arts
• Vera Lekoçaj – cultural activist
• Zef Lucaj – singer, lahutë (bowed one-string lute) and fyell (end-blown flute)
• Ruzhdi Lumani – singer
• Vasil Marku – singer
• Haxhi Maqellara – singer, mandolinist
• Edward Mirdita – cultural activist
• Martin Merturi – singer, çifteli
• Miliana Mirakaj – singer
• Tonin Mirakaj – cultural activist
• Father Rrok Mirdita - pastor
• Ismer Mjeku – graphic designer, cultural activist
• Gezim Mjeshtri – dancer
• Ardijana Mrijaj – singer, çifteli
• Father Andrew Nargaj, O.F.M. – Parochial Vicar
• Haxhi Nezaj – çifteli, singer
• Gjovalin Nikçi - cultural activist
• Orchestra Rozafati
• Drita Perezaj - cultural activist
• Alfred Popaj – çifteli, accordion, keyboard
• Hilë Popaj - cultural activist
• Father Peter Popaj - Pastor
• Ethel Raim – CTMD co-Dir
• Nikollë Rexha - çifteli, singer
• Rozafati-Albanian American Cultural Association of Our Lady of Shkodra
• Rozafati – Albanian dance group
• Fran Shala – singer
• Marash Shkreli – Deacon
• Mark Shkreli – cultural activist
• Ded Logu Shala - singer
• Prel Sinishtaj - cultural activist
• Jane Sugarman, Ph.D. – project consultant, ethnomusicologist
• Kastriot Tusha - singer
• Shpresa Uli - choreographer, dancer
• Arif Vladi – singer
• Simon Vukel - cultural activist
• Mark Vulaj – singer
• Violeta Zhuka – dancer 
 
Additionally, CTMD engaged in intensive, longitudinal work in the following communities prior to the formalization of the Community Cultural Initiative program.
 
Puerto Rican Community
 
Puerto Rico became a protectorate of the United States following the Spanish-American War in 1898 and Puerto Ricans gained U.S. citizenship in 1917, which allowed them to travel freely throughout the U.S.  A massive migration to the New York City began following WWII, and reached its peak in the 1950s, when one in six Puerto Ricans left the island. In New York, the newcomers settled in El Barrio in East Harlem, the South Bronx, the Lower East Side and Williamsburg and Bushwick in Brooklyn. 
 
CTMD work to support and promote interest in traditional Puerto Rican music among Puerto Rican and general audiences began in 1987 with a Fiesta Navideña (Christmas Party) presentation. Through a number of concerts around the New York metropolitan area, CTMD helped introduce to wide audiences the ensembles Los Pleneros de la 21 and Conjunto Melodía Tropical. Additionally, CTMD produced the 1990 recording Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico, Mi Tierra Natál on Shanachie Records that featured both ensembles. CTMD presented Los Pleneros at the 1988 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC, a performance which led to the ensemble’s tour of the Soviet Union. A concert video of Los Pleneros was released in 1994.
 
Key Artists, Ensembles and Collaborators:
• Israel Berrios – guitarist and singer
• Pepe Castillo Y Bomplené – jibaro, bomba & plena ensemble
• Conjunto Melodía Tropical – jibaro ensemble
• Jose “Pepe” Flores – cultural activist
• Juan Guiterrez – percussionist, singer, leader of Los Pleneros de la 21
• Neri Orta –cuatro player (small guitar), leader of Conjunto Melodia Tropical
• Los Pleneros de la 21 – bomba and plena ensemble
• Shanachie Records
• El Sexteto Criollo Puertorriqueño – Puerto Rican ensemble 
 
Irish Community
 
Brought to the U.S.’s urban centers by Irish immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries, traditional Irish music has developed a unique character in America, and has exerted a profound effect on the music in Ireland itself.
 
The New York-based Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem helped revive interest in traditional Irish song in America and Ireland during the 1950s.  Over the next decade the influence of recordings and performances of the Chieftains as well as the grass-roots work of the Comhaltas Ceoltiori Eireann organization helped fuel a revival of instrumental music and ceili dances.  The revitalization was further propelled in the 1970s by new ensembles in Ireland that combined vocals with virtuosic instrumental arrangements, most notably Planxty, DeDannan, the Bothy Band and Clannad. 
 
During the 1970s and 1980s, many Irish-American girls and young women started performing Irish instrumental music, a milieu that had been almost exclusively male dominated in previous generations. Ethnomusicologist and musician Mick Moloney theorizes that the opening up of American society through the women’s movement had a large part to play in this trend, as well as Irish music growing in importance as an identity marker amongst first and second generation immigrants. And certainly the music made by the new wave of ensembles had an exciting artistry that inspired young players. At any rate, Moloney notes that adolescent boys would stop playing because of negative peer pressure, while girls were generally encouraged to continue advancing. 
 
CTMD had presented Irish music and dance since the late 1970s, and under Moloney’s guidance, a project was created in 1984 to present leading young women who were blossoming into world-class traditional Irish musicians. 
 
And so Cherish the Ladies was born! The title of CTMD’s program encompassing concerts, recordings and national tours was adopted by the young performers as they crystallized into one of the world’s most famous Irish music ensembles. Over twenty years later, Joanie Madden, Eileen Ivers, Cathy Ryan, Mary Coogan, Rose Conway, Mary Rafferty and a number of other members of the original CTMD project are still recording and touring internationally as ambassadors of Irish and Irish-American culture, and remain dedicated to promoting Irish music to a new generation of performers. 
 
Working with Moloney, CTMD’s Cherish the Ladies program included a number of concerts and workshops around the New York metropolitan area, creation of two albums for Shanachie Records in 1985 (Cherish the Ladies and Fathers and Daughters), and presentation of the ensemble through national tours in 1987 and 1989. A number of programs featured the young women performing alongside their fathers and siblings.
 
Key Artists, Ensembles and Collaborators:
• Patty Bronson – flute
• John Cahill - bodhran
• Kevin Carroll – accordion
• Eileen Clohessy – tin whistle
• Jack Coen – flute
• Lori Cole – piano
• Deirdre Connolly – flute
• Mattie Connolly – uillean pipes
• Patricia Conway – accordion
• Rose Conway – violin
• Mary Coogan – guitar, banjo
• Maureen Doherty – accordion, flute, tin whistle
• Tom Doherty – melodeon
• Felix Dolan – piano
• Rory Ann Egan - accordion
• Seamus Egan – banjo, flute, tin whistle
• Siobhan Egan – violin, tin whistle
• Bridget Fitzgerald – singer
• John Fitzpatrick – accordion
• Maureen Fitzpatrick – violin
• Paulette Gershen – tin whistle
• Eileen Golden – step dancer
• Donny Golden – step dancer
• Kevin Henry – Flute
• Maggie Henry – flute
• Winifred Horan – dancer
• Paul Keating – dance leader
• Eileen Ivers – violin, mandolin
• James Keane – accordion
• Maureen Kennelly – step dancer
• Martin Koenig – CTMD/EFAC Co-Director
• Joanie Madden – flute, tin whistle
• Joe Madden – accordion
• Laura MacKenzie – flute
• Mary McDonoagh – accordion
• Kathy McGinty – violin
• Maureen  Glynn School of Irish Music
• Mick Moloney, Ph. D. – Project Artistic Director, folklorist, multi-instrumentalist/singer
• Laura Mulhaire – piano
• Martin Mulhaire – accordion
• Sheila Mulhaire – flute
• Dawn Mulvihill - violin
• Gail Mulvihill – banjo
• Martin Mulvihill – violin
• Gerry O’Beirne – guitar
• Pauline O’Neill – flute
• Jerry O’Sullivan – uillean pipes
• Mairead Powell – step dancer
• Mary Rafferty – flute
• Mike Rafferty – accordion
• Ethel Raim – CTMD/EFAC Co-Director
• Cathy Ryan Henry – singer, bodhran
• Shanachie Records
• Mark Simos – guitar
• Daithi Sproule – guitar
• Treasa U í Cearúil – singer
• Linnane Wick – step dancer 
 
Italian Community
 
Outside of the culinary arena, Americans are normally only exposed to the haute culture exports of Italy—  in particular, Renaissance art and architecture, opera and chamber music.  These highly cultivated arts largely developed in Northern and Central Italy and were exported to the South by nobles and their followers.
 
CTMD’s work in the Italian community reflected the growing interest during the 1970s and 1980s among Italians and Italian Americans in the unique and important Mediterranean cultures of the peasants and laborers of Southern Italy. Specifically, CTMD presented three national tours (1983 – 1985), a 1981 concert series in New York City, and a number of additional concerts throughout the metropolitan area that showcased a diversity of regional Southern Italian music and dance traditions.  Many of the forms presented are little-known outside of the specific regional community.
 
Key Artists, Ensembles and Collaborators:
• Ilana Abramovitch, Ph. D. – folklorist
• Virginia Aiello – tammurro (tambourine)
• Vincenzo Ancona – poet
• Paulo Apolito, Ph. D. – ethnomusicologist, tammurro, jew’s harp
• Ciro Barra – singer, tammurro, jew’s harp
• Calabria Bella – Calabrian ensemble
• Laura Biagi – singer, percussionist, folklorist
• Dionigi Burranca – launeddas (Sardinian triple clarinet)
• Rocco Carbone – ciaramella (oboe), zampogna (bagpipes)
• Angelo de Caro – organetto (accordion)
• Francesco de Caro – chitarra battente (small guitar)
• Giuseppe de Caro – organetto
• Annunziato Chimento, singer, dancer, naccheri (castanets)
• Giovanni Coffarelli – singer, tammurro,dancer
• De Franco Family with Francesco Cofone – Calabrian ensemble
• Gregory Dormani – Tour Director, guitar, violin, mandolin
• Galletti Sisters – singers
• Antonio Di Giacomo – tambourine, singer
• Carmine Di Lione – ciaramella
• Antonio Esposito – singer, dancer, putipú (friction drum)
• Carmine Ferraro – guitar, singer
• Luigi Fusco - zampogna
• Martin Koenig – CTMD/EFAC Co-Director
• Antonio LaRegina - tambourine
• Giuseppe Liguori – tambourine, singer, dancer
• Anna Lomax Wood (Chairetakis), Ph.D. –  Project Artistic Director, cultural anthropologist
• Angelo Luzzi – singer, dancer
• Assunta Luzzi - singer
• Bambina Luzzi – singer, dancer
• Giovanni Luzzi – singer, dancer
• Giuseppe Luzzi – organetto
• Papa Manteo and the Manteo Sicilian Marionette Theatre
• Santo Mirabile – singer, organetto
• Tindaro Mirabile – singer, organetto
• Angelo Morabito – singer, tambourine
• Nella Papallardi – singer
• Sabatino Papallardi – singer, guitar
• Filippo Pascia – jew’s harp
• Sostene Puglisi - bagpipes
• Ethel Raim – CTMD/EFAC Co-Director
• Danny Ritti – ciaramella
• Salvatore Rizzuto – fischiettu (cane flute)
• Santa Rizzuto – singer
• Vincenzo Romano – tromba degli zingari (gypsy’s trumpet), jew’s harp
• Franco Salierno - tammurro, jew’s harp
• Michele Strollo – zampogna
• Joseph Sciorra - folklorist
• Antonio Tardugno – organetto
• Antonio Torre – tammurro
• Michele Trezza - dancer
• Rocco Trezza - un po’ di tutto 
 
Jewish Community
 
See the above Soviet Jewish Community Cultural Initiative as well as the An-sky Institute for Jewish Culture
 
 
Greek Community
 
Since its inception, CTMD has presented leading musicians and dancers representing the diversity of Greek culture in the New York metropolitan area.  From the Pontic lyra masters like Ilias Kementzides and Christos Tiktapanidis to the Epirot clarinetists Pericles and Petros Halkias to nisiotika singer Amalia Papastefanou, the tri-state area has been rife with master performers representing traditions from the Greek mainland, islands and its ancient colonies.
 
Through dance workshops, CTMD has particularly worked to inspire interest in the preservation of specific regional repertoires, rather than the more widely known pan-Hellenic forms. CTMD produced a national Greek Music Tour in 1982-1983 featuring performers from overseas as well as the U.S.
 
Two recordings were produced in 1984 featuring Pericles Halkias Family Orchestra. The Halkias Family Orchestra: Songs and Dances of Epiros and Fragile Traditions: The Art of Pericles Halkias.
 
Key Artists, Ensembles and Collaborators:
• Adelphotis Olympitn Karpathos – Karapathos ensemble
• Stefanos Amanitides - dancer
• Manolis Belios – lyra (fiddle), singer
• Perry Bialor, Ph.D. – anthropologist
• Sophia Bilides – singer, santouri (hammered dulcimer)
• Lefteris Bournias - clarinet
• Sam Chianis, Ph.D. – ethnomusicologist, cimbalom (hammered dulcimer)
• Beth Bahia Cohen – violin, lyra, yayli tambour (large bowed lute)
• Mary Coros, Ph. D. – dance ethnographer
• Petros Djoumas, singer, laouta (lute)
• Leslie English – translator
• Paul Ginis – dancer, founder of Greek American Folklore Society
• Joe Kaloyanides Graziosi – Artistic Director of Greek Music Tour, dancer, dance ethnographer
• Greek American Folklore Society
• Achileas Halkias – violin, singer
• Bobby Halkias - clarinet
• Pericles Halkias – clarinet
• Petros Halkias – clarinet
• Lazaros Harisiades – laouto, defi (hand drum)
• David Henry – dancer
• Ioannis Ioannou – dancer
• Grigoris Kalivas – laouto, singer
• George Kalogrides – lyra
• Michael Kaloyanides, Ph. D. – ethnomusicologist
• Ilias Kementzides – lyra, singer
• Richard Khuzami – percussionist, proprietor of Dadoo Records
• Stathis Kitmerides – lyra, singer
• The Klephtics – Greek ensemble
• Martin Koenig – CTMD/BAC/EFAC Co-Director
• Simos Konstantinou – dancer
• Emanuel Komakis – laouto
• Mavrothis Kontanis – oud, singer
• Grigoris Maninakis - singer
• Nick Mastras – laouto
• Microcosmos – rebetika ensemble
• Olympos Brotherhood of Karpathos Ensemble
• Georgis Papadopoulos - drums
• Kostas Papadopoulos - accordion
• Lazaros Papadopoulos – clarinet
• Panos Papanicolou - photographer
• Amalia Papastefanou – singer
• Ionnis Papastefanou - singer
• John Pappas – dance ethnographer, dancer
• Vasilis Patrikis - violin
• Ted Petrides – dance ethnographer, dancer
• Ilias Platanias – violin
• Costas Rambos – cultural activist
• George Rambos - defi
• Ethel Raim – CTMD/BAC/EFAC Co-Director
• Gerardo Razumney - defi
• John Roussos – santouri (hammered dulcimer)
• Andy Sapanides – singer, lyra
• Pontiakon Somation – Pontic music and dance ensemble
• Nikos Savvides – dancer
• Alice Singer – anthropologist, dancer
• Demetri “Jim” Tashie – dancer, laouto, zurna (oboe), percussion
• John Themelis - laouto
• Christos Tiktapanidis – lyra, singer
• Tommy Toramanides – dancer, cultural activist
• Anastasia Tsantis – dancer, singer
• Yiannis Tselepidakis – Byzantine cantor
• Petros Tzoumas – guitar
• Thanasis Tzouvelis – radio personality
• Panayiotis Vassiliades - singer
• Mary Vouras – dance ethnographer 
 
Above annotations borrow heavily from CTMD program notes written by cultural specialists Anne Rasmussen (Arab), Mick Moloney (Irish), Jane Sugarman (Albanian), Karna and Prita Singh (Indo-Caribbean), Tom Van Buren (Filipino, West African) and Anna Lomax Wood (Italian)
 
For more information about program books and other CCI-related publications, click here.
 

| contact & directions | credits & copyright | volunteers & internships | membership & donations | links |