About the Author
Chelsea Green is an associate professor of music at The American University in Cairo. She teaches music history, introductory ethnomusicology, music theory, music entrepreneurship and guitar performance. Drawing on her experience as a professional guitar soloist and ensemble player, Chelsea also directs the Cairo Guitar Collective (CGC) and the AUC Guitar Ensemble, both of which perform regularly throughout Egypt.
In 2018, CGC completed a US/Egyptian tour and full-length recording of the Egyptian Composers Project. For this project, four Egyptian composers created new works for the group. Chelsea also transcribes music for guitar. Her transcriptions of French art songs for guitar and voice are published and distributed by California Guitar Archives (CGA). CGA also distributes her full-length album, The Mélodies of Eric Satie and Reynaldo Hahn, performed by duo Les Copines (Risa Larson, soprano & Chelsea Green, guitars). In 2011, she published a philosophical article entitled Permission to Play: Obstacles and Open Spaces in Music-Making. The article describes how the phenomenon of play, as articulated by the philosopher Hans George Gadamer, relates to the performing arts.
In 2010, Chelsea was selected to participate in the month-long Asian Pacific Performance Exchange (APPEX) in Bali, Indonesia. During the exchange, artists from East Asia and the United States studied traditional Balinese performing arts and created collaborative performance pieces. Chelsea is also a co-founder of the Los Angeles Electric 8, an electric guitar octet. The octet’s repertoire spans the late Renaissance to today. During her six-year membership in the octet, the Los Angeles Electric 8 recorded three full-length albums and performed in a variety of US national festivals including the Strathmore Guitar Festival, Sundays Live at LACMA, REDCAT’s Summer Studio, World Festival of Sacred Music and MicroFest.
Chelsea holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts, with a specialization in guitar performance, from the University of California, Los Angeles.
About the Composers of The Obelisks
John Baboukis is a professor of music at the American Uni. in Cairo. He teaches courses in music theory, musicianship, and music literature, teaches private lessons, directs the AUC Chamber Singers, and coaches chamber music ensembles.
Baboukis is the conductor of the Cairo Choral Society, a community chorus affiliated with the University in which students may also participate (either for course credit, or on a voluntary basis). Over the past twelve years, he has conducted them in performances of major works in the western choral repertory, including Charpentier’s Messe de minuit and Te Deum, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Creation and Nelson Mass, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Brahms’s German Requiem and Schicksalslied, Beethoven’s Mass in C and Choral Fantasy, Mozart’s Requiem, Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, and Vivaldi’s Gloria. He is also the conductor of the Cairo Festival Orchestra, a professional ensemble which frequently accompanies the Cairo Choral Society, and which is being developed as an ensemble in residence at AUC.
He is the founder and co-director of the Lions of Cairo, an early music group composed primarily of AUC faculty, with whom he is a singer, qanoon player and harpsichordist. The Lions present regular performances of medieval, renaissance and baroque Western music, Byzantine chant and classical Arab music. He is a specialist in the performance of medieval and renaissance music, and was the founder and director of the Saint Paul Early Music Ensemble and Les voix médiévales de Montréal. He has also been trained in the performance of Byzantine Chant, and has served for many years as a chanter in the Orthodox Church. He has taught conducting and directed numerous choral and early music groups at the College of Saint Catherine (in Saint Paul, Minnesota), McGill University, the University of Georgia, Young Harris College and Illinois State University.
Baboukis holds a Doctor of Music degree from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, where he was the first doctoral student ever permitted to submit an original composition (his Requiem Mass, for chorus, orchestra, and soloists) as a dissertation for a degree in choral conducting. He has written a substantial body of vocal music, as well as chamber works and music for piano, harpsichord, clavichord and organ. His concerto for bassoon and string orchestra, Three Walks in Zamalek, was premiered by the Cairo Symphony Orchestra in March of 2013, in a performance in which the composer was also the harpsichord soloist, and his Symphony for Cairo had its premiere performance, also by the Cairo Symphony, in June 2016. He has since conducted both works in a performance in Ewart Hall with the Cairo Festival Orchestra in March of 2017. He has been awarded a McKnight Composition Fellowship, and, in addition to receiving numerous private commissions, has twice won composer commissioning grants from the Jerome Foundation, through the American Composers Forum.
Bahaa El-Ansary is a composer and improvisor from Egypt, born in Cairo, 1991. He studied composition at The Academy of Arts in Cairo, Conservatoire de Bordeaux, Conservatoire de Boulogne-Billancourt, and is currently studying for a Master of Arts in Opera Making & Writing at the world-renowned Guildhall School of Music & Drama in collaboration with Royal Opera House. He also participated at The 46th International Summer Course for New Music in Darmstadt. In 2017, he co-founded Cairo Impro, a group that is dedicated to free improvisation via workshops and concerts.
Bahaa’s music is rooted in Arabic music and is also influenced by a list of master composers such as: György Ligeti, Iannis Xenakis, and John Cage, as well as many of Spectral Music and Avant-Garde music techniques. Bahaa composes what he calls “Energetic Music”.
Bahaa had been a Composer in Residence of The Royal Opera House & Shubbak Festival, ROH-Shubbak composers’ residency in London, Summer 2017. At some prestigious festivals and venues, Bahaa’s music has been performed throughout Europe and in the UK, Singapore, Lebanon, Egypt, and the US by some prestigious ensembles such as: Xenia Ensemble, Duo Harpverk, ECCMOP Ensemble, Egyptian Contemporary Music Ensemble, Musicians of LSO London Symphony Orchestra, Fear No Music, Cairo Guitar Collective, Friends of MATA, Ensemble Écoute, and Quatuor Apollinaire. His works have been performed at some of the following festivals: ESTOVEST Festival in Turin, Singapore Saxophone Symposium, American Arts Festival in Beirut, DCaf Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival in Cairo, Gaudeamus Muziekweek in Utrecht, Shubbak Festival in London, MATA Festival in New York, Cairo Contemporary Music Days in Cairo, Fete de la Musique in Paris, and World Saxophone Congress in Zagreb.
Ashraf Fouad is a composer, who teaches composition and theory at The American University in Cairo. He is a graduate of The Academy of Arts in Cairo, Egypt, and The Juilliard School of Music, New York, where he advanced to the level of DMA studies with David Diamond (1988–1991). At the Cairo Conservatory, he studied with Taha Nagy and Said Awad. At Juilliard, Fouad studied composition with Stanley Wolfe, Joseph Schwantner, and Bernard Rands. Among his works, which were premiered at Juilliard are: Sonata Concertante for Violin and Piano (Paul Hall) and String Quartet (Alice Tully Hall).
A working musician all his life, Fouad has been performer, producer, researcher, teacher, lecturer, and composer. In 1994, he joined the faculty at The American University in Cairo as composer-in-residence. Since then, he has written Ithaca (cantata for orchestra, chorus and soloists), a commission celebrating the 75th anniversary of the University. Other works composed, while at AUC include Afterthought, a song for tenor, soprano, violin, and piano; Longing, song for voice and piano; Cairo Tapestry, a work in collaboration with artist Paul Rinaldi in video and music; Tapestry Suite, for nine musicians; Silently I Wait, I admire Your Face, songs for voice and piano; Christmas Song, ensemble song for voice, harp, percussion and piano; In the Basement, tuba solo; New Jersey Girls, three songs for bass tuba, and piano; Love Cycle, four songs for voice and piano; Waheeda, a trio for vion, violoncello and piano; Sonata Piccola, piano sonata; Nature’s Angels, song for voice and piano; Toccata Moderna, for piano. In the Theater, Fouad wrote Octahedron, score for experimental theater and recorded the incidental music for Sophocles’s Antigone and performed live in Brecht’s A Man’s a Man with director Frank Bradley. Recent performances of Fouad’s works have been in Cairo and Alexandria, Egypt; Washington DC; Chicago; New York; Dublin; London; Vienna; Komaron; Slovakia; and Budapest, Hungary. Awards for his works have come from The Kennedy Center, Washington, DC, and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).
I, Joan Greenwald, am a perpetual student, practitioner, and teacher of tai chi, qi gong and classical guitar. For music composition, I am following the brilliant inspiration of Theodore Norman (my 25 year mentor). We miss him dearly. Also a modern artist, I’ve spent a lifetime creating and showing my paintings and drawings. These endeavors combine and move together in the visual, aural and martial art worlds. Really they are all the same —just with slightly different expressions, all flow. Thank you for your attention.
Eric Kiersnowski is a musician and composer known for his unique playing and songwriting in projects including Godzik Pink, Rats, his current projects FeatherWolf, OxOx, Upsilon Acrux, Totally Serious, Los Angeles Electric 8 and others. In 2018, he completed his first album performing his own original works for solo classical guitar
Paweł Kuźma (b. 1985, Piekary Śląskie, Poland) is an adjunct professor at The American University in Cairo where he teaches world music and private applied guitar. In fall 2017, Pawel became co-director of the Cairo Guitar Collective. Along with composer Bahaa El Ansary, Pawel also co-directs Cairo Impro, a group dedicated to the education and performance of avant-garde improvisation. As a performing artist, Pawel has given many concerts in Poland, Finland, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria and, more recently, Egypt.
His passion for classical guitar started in his first year of primary school. At the beginning of his musical education, Pawel won many national music competitions. Later, he won international competitions and grants from the Polish Ministry of Culture and City Council.
Considered by many to be one of the most promising guitarists in Poland, Pawel graduated from high school with honors. Pawel continued his education at the Szymanowski Music Academy in Katowice, Poland. There, he studied under the renowned professor, Alina Gruszka. During this time, Pawel was awarded a grant by Young Poland, an organization founded by Ministry of Culture.
After graduating from the Szymanowski Academy, Pawel moved to Finland to continue his education at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, which is widely considered to be one of the best music programs in the world. Pawel studied under Dr. Jukka Savijoki.
Walter Marsh pursued a life in music as a classical guitarist from 1988 to 1995 (and sporadically in years following) studying with Theodore Norman at UCLA, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in guitar performance in 1995. His work as a soloist and as a founding member of the Modern Arts Guitar Quartet transitioned to work as a teacher and then into the world of nonprofit arts management where he works today. As a guitarist, Walter has had a particular focus on modern music, inspired by his mentor, Theodore Norman, who was the subject of his MFA thesis. In it, he explored the performance practice of Norman’s music for solo guitar and his unique place in the instrument’s history. Since 2012, Walter has been a member of ensembleFRET, a Los Angeles based group whose core instruments are mandolin, guitar and arpeggione.
Brandon Mayer is originally from Florida. He attended UCLA and University of Barcelona earning, degrees in music and anthropology. At UCLA he studied classical guitar with Peter Yates and Theodore Norman. As an ensemble and solo artist, Mayer has performed and toured extensively, including at LA CountyMuseum of Art, UCLA HammerMuseum, USC, Kennedy Center (DC), Manhattan School of Music, and as artist-in-residence at University of Kansas. A prolific singer-songwriter, he has released multiple recordings and collaborations associating with labels Pelvic, VillageVert, and Range Life. Also a composer, Mayer has contributed music for theater and films that have been produced/screened at festivals throughout the U.S., Europe, andAsia. Currently, he teaches at Bahcesehir University (Istanbul) and UCLA.
Mark Popeney (b. 1982, San Diego, California, USA) is a composer whose music spans many styles and media. His music has been performed by such groups as Ensemble Signal, the USC Thornton Symphony, the Tuscaloosa New Music Collective, and the Harvard University Choral Fellows. His musical, irl (In Real Life) was premiered by Hooligan Theater Company in 2011.
Mark received his Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition from the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music in 2012, where he studied with Stephen Hartke and Donald Crockett. Mark earned his Master’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2007, studying with David Lefkowitz and Ian Krouse, and his Bachelor’s degree in 2004 from the University of California, Berkeley.
Mark teaches music at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, MA, where he also serves as chair of the Performing Arts Department. Mark is an avid singer, guitarist, and producer, and is a founding member of the rock quintet Dream Hydra.
Emile Porée is a jazz musician and vocalist who enjoys performing to a broad music-loving audience. Either solo, or with his trio, he fuses many musical genres. To this end, Emile considers himself a musical activist. Today, Emile is recording his own music and performing on the local music scene in Los Angeles, with bands and other various artists. It’s no wonder that bands and producers are big supporters and advocates of Emile. One of Emile’s passion projects has been the documentation of jazz in Los Angeles, exploring and recording the soundscapes and images of the city’s musicians.
Felix Salazar was born in Los Angeles, California, Felix is a composer, producer, photographer and guitarist. He received an M.F.A. in Composition from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and a B.A. in Commercial Music from California State Polytechnic University Pomona.
Felix is the director and primary arranger of Los Angeles Electric 8, a chamber group of eight electric guitarists. He is also a guitarist and composer of the technical rock band FeatherWolf and improvisation group Doctor9. In an attempt to break certain stereotypes associated with photography, the electric guitar, and chamber music, Felix blends preconceived ideas, all the while experimenting with fields and the depths of space.
He specializes in guitar photography working with Guild Guitars, Guitar Salon International and Cordoba Guitars. Felix also produces and promotes performances in Los Angeles, working with production companies & venues: Red Bull Music Academy, Red Bull Radio, The New York Guitar Festival, Rum & Humble, Spaceland Presents, The Echo & Echoplex, dublab, SASSAS, The Regent Theater, KJAZZ 88.1 FM, Santa Monica Pier Twilight Concert Series, Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Festival, World Festival of Sacred Music and the Hollywood Bowl. .
Felix hopes that his productions, arrangements and compositions will expose people to fresh and inspiring music. In his free time, Felix also maintains microcosms of various tropical plant and aquatic life.
Peter Yates is a guitarist and composer whose interest in things not usually done has led to works for prepared guitar, building and playing an arpeggione (a bowed guitar invented in 1823 and rarely seen since), cycles of “PopArt” songs, a puppet opera about the Watts Towers, and a DVD ghost-town opera in which historic photographs come to life and sing. Recent performance activity has included recording and performing with the trio ensembleFRET and the duo GuitAria. His work with the Elgart/Yates Duo included sixteen tours of Europe, over one hundred premieres, and a book on prepared guitar. His works have been performed on Italian National Radio (RAI), microfest, The Living Arts Festival, NOW Festival, Festival of American Music, in Mexico, Europe and across the United States. His performances and compositions are recorded on Reference Recordings, Innova, Centaur, Bridge and TR Records. He is on the faculties of music at UCLA and at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Examples of his work can be found at California Guitar Archives (calguitar.com) and youtube/peterfyates.
“A particularly lucid fretboard dreamer. An unreconstructed modernist, he is also sensitive to vernacular and popular styles.” – The Los Angeles Times