CMS Improvisers Orchestra Receives Project Support Grant For Second Straight Year

For the second straight year, the Creative Music Studio™  has received a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.  The $10,000 NYSCA grant will support 2018 repertoire development and performances by the CMS™ Improvisers Orchestra (CIO) conducted by Karl Berger.

 This grant supports the years-long collaboration between CMS and El Taller, the East Harlem Latino community center where the CIO regularly performs. CMS and El Taller will collaborate on performances that highlight Hispanic performers and poets from the community that El Taller serves.

“We’re humbled to receive NYSCA’s support for the second year in a row,” says CMS Executive Director Rob Saffer. “Financial support is crucial for large ensembles such as the CMS Improvisers Orchestra; it provides working New York musicians with both creative and financial opportunities and audiences in this underserved community with access to music not typically heard there.”

The CMS™ Improvisers Orchestra is comprised of 20 – 30 string, horn, reed and percussionists.  It has performed 100 times and has featured special guests from John Zorn and Min Xiao Fen to David Soldier and Valerie Naranjo. Berger’s deft conducting, developed over decades at CMS, blends and harmonizes improvised sounds and rhythms in constantly shifting instrumentations and dynamics.

Min-Xiao-Fen

CMS™ Improvisers Orchestra takes the principles of CMS™ Workshops to a professional level with extraordinary results. Through an open rehearsal that precedes each performance, Berger transmits the “Music Mind” concepts he developed at CMS so audiences can see how they shape the sound and feel of the CIO and how musicians harmonize and blend orchestral sounds in an improvisational setting.

The CMS™ Improvisers Orchestra has received widespread critical praise. The Wall Street Journal said the orchestra’s sound “draws on lush harmonies and a well-defined relationship between foreground soloists and background.”  Lucid Culture has remarked that “the camaraderie and warmth of the repartee between the orchestra and conductor – and among the orchestra itself – was visceral,” and noted jazz critic Howard Mandel wrote that the orchestra “can expand on simple themes paying utmost attention to dynamics and each other through ‘intuited communication.’”

The Creative Music Studio engages musicians and listeners from all backgrounds to deepen and broaden their musical sensitivity, expression and understanding through workshops, recordings and concerts worldwide.  The Creative Music Studio™ and CMS ™ are trademarks of the Creative Music Foundation, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation founded in 1971 that receives funding from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), among others.  

 

 

 

 

New Blood Revitalizes Creative Music Studio

It hardly seems possible but Woodstock’s own Creative Music Studio, that ethereal prodigy of a golden era, has been sent to the gym and returned rippling with muscle. Like the town’s original experiment in freedom (known since 1905 simply as “The Maverick”) CMS remains, first and foremost, a forever tolerant state of mind. So how do “forever tolerant” and “rippling with muscle” coexist? This is how: with a kick-ass new board, a supercharged trio of artistic directors, and the original god-parents of World Music, Karl Berger & Ingrid Sertso, imperturbably at its heart.’ Read journalist Tad Wise’s full story in  the Woodstock Times.

And, if you didn’t see it last week, New York Times‘ music critic Giovanni Russonello wrote an extensive feature article on CMS and its expanded artistic team. Read the full story.

 

Creative Music Studio Changes Hands at a Critical Moment in Jazz

CMS Spring 2017 Workshop. Photo by Karin Wolfe

New York Times music critic Giovanni Russonello profiles CMS in a feature article,  ‘Creative Music Studio Changes Hands at a Critical Moment in Jazz‘, which was published today. The article was based on months of research, including several days at the CMS Summer Workshop two weeks ago.  Read the full story.

 

 

 

Dear Friends,

Thanks to the Creative Music Foundation and our generous donors, we have raised a little over $4500 to provide the children of Tyabala consistent financial support throughout 2016. This will make a significant difference in their lives. The children, their teachers, and I thank for your gracious moral and material support.

My wife Magali and I have just returned from a very concentrated two-week trip to Guinea where I worked with our students and all had an incredible time.

We received a warm welcome complete with a private performance. I was able to verify that, indeed, our students’ playing abilities had significantly improved under the tutelage of Master Mamady Mansare. So much so that within a few days of my arrival word came that they were invited to perform at the upcoming

Sylvain Leroux and Mamady Mansaré

investiture of recently re-elected Guinean President, Alpha Condé. Six of our students were selected to represent the Compagnie Centre Tyabala de Guinée (the organization that is hosting our Ecole Fula Flute program) and be accompanied by their director Mr. Momo Sylla.

On Monday morning December 14, the kids being away at the investiture ceremonies, I had the day off from teaching and still somewhat jet-lagged I slept late. I was awakened by a call from Veronique, Mr. Sylla’s assistant, who gave me the wonderful news that our students were live on television. A little while later, Magali arrived from the market were she happened on the proceedings on television and had the presence of mind to record the screen with her iphone, resulting in a fantastic document.

Then came praise… Universal praise!

A few days later I was invited to the offices of the Ministry of Arts and Culture to meet the Minister, His Excellency, Mr. Mohamed Amirou Conté, who graciously spent a moment learning about our activities and objectives and was very interested in the idea of a permanent music school in Conakry.

Mohamed "Momo" Sylla

I was also invited to meet a living legend of Guinean music, Mr. Jean-Baptiste Williams, the National Director of the Arts and we spent a significant amount of time together. In my presence he listened intently to the almost entire Ecole Fula Flute CD, which he thoroughly enjoyed. He recognized me as co-author of the Fula Flute CD(released in 2002) and told me that he was responsible for having it play extensively on Guinean airwaves though all these years (it has faded now but it was ubiquitous for many years). He asked many questions and invited me to return to record a radio show for his weekly program which I did the following day.

Then, Mr. Momo, myself and two of our students: our eldest boy, Naby, and girl, Fatoumata, were invited to a morning television show on the RTG network (Radio Television Guinéene) called Kolomatin hosted by the wonderful Aya Diawara (who reminds me of Oprah). She professionally interviewed me and then in the middle of an exchange with Fatoumata she broke down in tears touched as she was by the girl’s story and had to take a break off the air to compose herself. We had been scheduled for a 15-minute intervention but Aya was so interested in us that we stayed almost forty.

It is really heartwarming to see our ideas and hard work vindicated in such a spectacular way. Our students are music crazy, the more you give them, the more they want. There is a healthy competition among them: if one learns a new piece, everyone else wants to learn it too. Mamady tells me that if he gives a new song one day, the next time he comes back, they all know it.

Mr. Williams expressed to me what some others have as well, that his generation is worried about the future of traditional music in general and of the flute specifically in Guinea and that our project and students has rekindled their hopes.

L’Ecole Fula Flute and La Compagnie Tyabala are alive and well and thanks to you things will continue to improve for the foreseeable future.

Allahamdulillah!!! Thank God!!!

Sincerely,
Sylvain Leroux

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