workshops

Wust el Balad in Detroit Lakes

Classroom with kids and ensemble in a workshop

By Amy Stoller Stearns

We are loving having Wust el Balad here! What great, great guys! I know this update will be full of exclamation points because it’s all so good!!

Wust el Balad's First Week in the Midwest

Wust el Balad on stage

By Shigeyo Henriquez

September 13th. Ken and I waited for Wust el Balad’s arrival at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. They were scheduled to arrive at 6:30 p.m. We waited and waited… It was almost 9 p.m. Where were they?

Final week in Valley City, ND

Three people dressed nicely post together at the dinner table

By Shigeyo Henriquez

The week began with a reception held at the house of the president of Valley City State University. We were treated to a home cooked early Easter dinner, served on fine porcelain dishes with real silverware.

The last concert was at the Health Activity Center of Valley City High school. After the concert, Wes Anderson from the Bridges Arts Council received this email from one of the audience members.

“Thank you and the Bridges Arts Council for the exquisite music last evening. They were amazing.

Knoxville, Iowa

Donation jar on the shop's front counter

By Shigeyo Henriquez

The day we arrived in Knoxville it was 70˚—warm and sunny. We received a warm welcome by the people gathered at Peace Tree Brewery. I recognized the same friendly faces from my first visit to Knoxville last fall with Beauty & Melody.

At Peace Tree Brewery they had a donation box for the Japan earthquake and tsunami relief. Contribution boxes are found everywhere in town. We are so touched to see people’s concern and participation to help & support. 3M Corporation is even offering one-to-one match to all US employees up to $500,000.

Sefi’s slogan: ‘Let’s party’

Sefi displays his oud, a stringed instrument with a round back.

By Lindajoy Fenley

“Would you like a Greek party? … a Balkan party? … a Middle Eastern party?”

Midwestern children at the Israeli Ethnic Ensemble’s workshops shout “yes” as Sefi Asfuri Hirsh picks up his bouzouki with intricate mother of pearl inlay for Greek sounding music and Talya Solan sings Hebrew lyrics.

Fun at final workshops

Smiling musicians give a thumbs up.

By Lindajoy Fenley

When I heard a Jefferson school third grader listening to the ensemble’s sound check say their music sounded both Egyptian and Indian, I knew the last workshop of the tour was going to be good. The kids were primed for it and so was the Israeli Ethnic Ensemble. The only thing left on the ensemble’s itinerary were two classroom conversations at Valley City State University, a short musical presentation at the Sheyenne Care Center on Friday, and their final concert on Saturday, Nov. 13.

Saluting 3M in Alexandria

Posing outside by a 3M sign, wearing winter coats.

By Lindajoy Fenley

The Israeli Ethnic Ensemble’s last day of Minnesota workshops began at 8:45 a.m. Thursday with a trip to Miltona Elementary School and ended 12 hours later when the group finished loading out instruments and equipment at Alexandria Technical College, site of afternoon and evening workshops for seniors and families. In between, they found time for a quick visit to the Wimmer’s lake cabin, a meal at an Alexandria restaurant, and a photo opportunity in front of the 3M factory.

Microcosm-Macrocosm

Musicians on stage

By Lindajoy Fenley

We left Marquette, MI, this weekend with many memories—big and small. They were born at small schools like Republic (total school population 144) to discussions of major issues at Northern Michigan University, where professors are planning a new curriculum focusing on the Middle East.

Parents, teachers and students at Republic wanted to know how their little school located in rural Upper Peninsula was selected for one of the Israeli Ethnic Ensembles workshops.

Agatsuma in Bloomington, Illinois

Retirement home residents work musicians to play the instruments

By Shigeyo Henriquez

We arrived in Bloomington, IL Sunday April 25, our third week of Arts Midwest World Fest. With a population of 150,000, Bloomington, IL is the largest community so far in this tour. Two major universities, a large insurance company, and financial businesses are located here in Bloomington.

A week in Hartford, WI

Taiko workshop in a middle school gymnasium

By Shigeyo Henriquez

First 3 days in Hartford we had very early start 7 a.m., 7:30 a.m. Monday morning, April 19th, we drove 40 minutes to Silverbrook Middle school in West Bend. Rubbing our eyes, we set up the instruments in the gym. The bell rang, 400 students walked into the gym very excited and curious to hear Japanese music.

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