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Blake Zidell and Associates

For Immediate Release                                                                                                     June 13, 2011


Building Upon Distinguished Ethnomusicology Program,
The Graduate Center Engages Curator Isabel Soffer, Co-Founder of globalFEST and Former Director of Programming at World Music Institute

In an effort to spotlight the subject matter of its ethnomusicology doctoral program, The Graduate Center is collaborating with Isabel Soffer, one of New York City’s foremost curators of international music. Together, they are launching Live@365, a series of world music concerts in the Baisley Powell Elebash Recital Hall, a remarkably intimate, 180-seat concert theater at 365 Fifth Avenue. The venue is part of The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

The inaugural season of Live@365 comprises six concerts, all of which take place on a Tuesday at 7:00 P.M. Soffer has selected standout artists and exclusive projects that best suit Elebash Hall’s unique size, ambience and acoustics. In just six evenings, the series will present a wide range of music, both traditional and contemporary, from Europe, Africa, Australasia and the Middle East. For most of the artists in the lineup, Live@365 represents either a U.S. debut or the premiere of a new project.

Live@365 is the first new series Soffer has curated since she left the World Music Institute (WMI) in February after 25 years with the organization. Through WMI, where she most recently served as Director of Programming, and globalFEST, which she co-founded, she has helped audiences to discover new artists and to experience, in some of the city’s most prestigious performance venues, established and emerging artists from around the world.

The series begins September 27, 2011 with the Malian/French Chamber Music, featuring Ballake Sissoko on kora and Vincent Segal on cello on September 27, 2011. Portuguese fado’s rising star, Antonio Zambujo, will perform on October 18. The Iranian singer Azam Ali will perform music from her album of Persian/Kurdish/Lebanese/Azeri lullabies, From Night to the Edge of Day, on November 22. Australian Aboriginal Pitjantjatjara artist Frank Yamma will make his U.S. debut on March 13, 2012 . Simon Shaheen will lead a celebration of Arab Spring on April 10, 2012, and Flamenco Gitano legend Manuel Agujetas will perform his first New York show in over 35 years, on May 22, 2012.

Tickets for the Live@365 concerts will be available by July 11. They are $25 ($20 for Graduate Center Members and Students (contact 212-817-8215 for discount information)) and can be purchased by visiting or calling 212.868.4444.

Live@365 Concerts, September 2011—May 2012

September 27, 2011
Ballake Sissoko / Vincent Segal

One of the top kora (21-stringed lute-harp) players of the new generation, Malian artist Ballake Sissoko has worked with artists ranging from African icons (Toumani Diabate) to blues masters (Taj Mahal) and Italian minimalist composers (Ludovico Einaudi). Vincent Segal has taken the cello into new realms with the French trip-hop group Bumcello and in collaborations with Sting and Elvis Costello. Sissoko and Segal struck up a friendship that has blossomed into an elegant, rich acoustic collaboration they call Chamber Music. The unexpected intertwining of their instruments creates an intimate space for subtle, yet striking, sounds from both African traditions and European classical roots.

Artist Information:

October 18, 2011
Antonio Zambujo

Antonio Zambujo, whom Le Monde has described as “the angelic voice of fado,” makes his U.S. debut. The past few years have been very productive for Zambujo, an exceptional Portuguese artist who created a quiet revolution in the fado world when he won the coveted Amália Rodrigues Foundation’s prize for Best Male Fado Singer.

Portuguese fado is likened to American blues and Greek rembetika for its ability to capture life's hardships with songs of bittersweet nostalgia and longing or saudade. Over the past two centuries, the genre has evolved from a folk tradition into an internationally recognized art form, undergoing several changes along the way. Zambujo’s style, characterized by a sense of tradition and a keen desire for rejuvenation, brilliantly demonstrates how music can be both faithful to the past and eminently contemporary, and has greatly contributed to the rising prominence of male voices in fado today. Deeply rooted in the luscious chants of Cante Alentejano, the region from which he hails, Zambujo sings with great soul.

In his Live@265 concert, Zambujo will be accompanied by Ricardo Crus on bass, Bernardo Couto on Portuguese guitar, Jose Conde on bass clarinet and Jon Luz on cavaquinho, a small guitar-like instrument mostly used in Brazilian music.  

Artist information:

November 22, 2011
Azam Ali
From Night to the Edge of Day

Azam Ali has one of today’s most seductive and effortlessly disciplined voices. As The Huffington Post puts it, “Ali makes music seem so effortless, so much so that it’s becoming harder and harder to distinguish between her person and the music that she creates...”

The Iranian-born, Indian-raised vocalist imbues traditional and newly composed songs with dreamy longing, the grief of exile in a conflict-ridden world, and a keen edge of hope—all sublimely interpreted through ultra-modern beats and ambient drones. At Elebash, she will perform music from her new album on Six Degrees, From Night to the Edge of Day, a sophisticated exploration of Iranian, Turkish, Lebanese, and Kurdish lullabies. The material shines when mediated by Ali’s unique vocals and aesthetic, which she has honed on three solo albums and in a career that has included collaborations with Mickey Hart, System of a Down, Nine Inch Nails and King Crimson, as well as her own project Niyaz.

For this concert she is accompanied by Ramin Loga Torkian, on lafta (Turkish lute) and kamaan (bowed lute); Nasser Musa Janinion on oud (plucked lute); and Sheila Hanigin on cello.

Artist Information:

Frank Yamma
The Pitjantjatjara Man: Songs from Aboriginal Australia

Acclaimed indigenous singer/songwriter Frank Yamma, who is recognized across Australia for music of extraordinary intensity, makes his U.S. debut in this concert. Yamma lives in Alice Springs and is considered a legend in Central Australia. He is a traditional Pitjantjatjara man from the central desert who speaks five languages, and is an exceptional guitarist, songwriter and vocalist.

Perhaps Yamma’s greatest talent is his ability to bring listeners into his narratives: When he sings about standing on a sand dune looking out over the landscape, it is if you are standing with him. When he sings about the plight of Aboriginal children born into a world of chaos and alcohol, you feel connected to their struggle. He has stunned audiences and critics alike with these emotionally charged songs of imprisonment, love and romance, and the contradictions between Yamma’s life as a respected, initiated man and a disrespected outsider in cities where jail, poverty and discrimination are a part of everyday life.

Artist Information:

April 10, 2012  
Simon Shaheen
Songs of Freedom, Dignity and Pride

This singular concert reflects on the first anniversary of Arab Spring with new works performed, curated and directed by Simon Shaheen, who will be joined by his ensemble and special guests.

Shaheen, the Palestinian-American oud and violin maestro, composer and bandleader, holds a special place in the U.S. as an ambassador, advocate and educator of Arabic music. The New York Times has said, “[Shaheen] has coaxed the oud’s elastic, syncopated sound across musical borders, from classical Arabic compositions to contemporary jazz fusion. He has stretched social boundaries, too, establishing himself as an important interpreter of Arab culture for Western audiences.” Shaheen is known for his stunning improvisations and groundbreaking collaborations, and his technique, ingenuity and artistry reflect a legacy of Arabic music while exploring new directions.

Artist Information:

May 22, 2012
Flamenco Gitano: The Legendary Manuel Agujetas

In 1976, The Village Voice reviewed a performance by the Gypsy flamenco legend Manuel Agujetas, and attributed to him “a well-modulated primal scream—an exquisitely controlled shriek of anguish and despair.” The reviewer added, “I have heard it described as inhuman, and it does have a sheer animal quality to it.”

This Live@365 concert is his first New York concert since. Born Manuel de los Santos Pastor in Cadiz in 1939, Agujetas has long been an outstanding, controversial singer, anarchic and unpredictable. He is also one of the most important figures in the history of flamenco. From a renowned musical family, Agujetas worked as a blacksmith with his father until 1970, when he made his first recording. He has achieved international recognition for singing the stunningly intense form of flamenco, cante jondo (deep song), which includes flamenco’s purest, ancient styles martinetes and siguiriyas. Heappears in Carlos Saura’s film Flamenco and in Dominique Abel’s documentary Agujetas, Cantaor.

In this long-awaited New York show, Agujetas will be joined by the celebrated young Gypsy guitarist Manuel Valencia of Jerez de la Frontera, a student of maestro Manuel Morao and the nephew of Terremoto, from whom he learned to accompany the cante.

Artist videos:

About The Graduate Center of the City University of New York

The Graduate Center is devoted primarily to doctoral studies and awards most of the City University of New York’s Ph.D.s. An internationally recognized center for advanced studies and a national model for public doctoral education, the school offers more than thirty doctoral programs as well as a number of master’s programs. Many of its faculty members are among the world’s leading scholars in their respective fields, and its alumni hold major positions in industry and government, as well as in academia. The Graduate Center is also home to more than thirty interdisciplinary research centers and institutes focused on areas of compelling social, civic, cultural, and scientific concerns.  Located in a landmark Fifth Avenue building, the Graduate Center has become a vital part of New York City’s intellectual and cultural life with its extensive array of public lectures, exhibitions, concerts, and theatrical events.  Further information on the Graduate Center and its programs can be found at

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