Cross-Cultural Arts Organization Brings its Passion for International Musical Engagement to St. Louis
For over 25 years, St. Louis-based American Voices has created some of the most intriguing cross-cultural exchange projects around the world. It has run performing arts academies in nine countries, including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Sudan. It is currently putting together a Broadway revue tour in Pakistan, highlighting local performers adding their own South Asian twists to major contemporary musicals – Hamilton meets Bollywood. It has a long and admirable track record as the implementing partner of the U.S. Department of State’s American Music Abroad Program, supporting American musicians as they tour over 140 countries while sharing the best and most beautiful of America’s diverse culture.
Now, the organization is bringing its passion for international music and cross-cultural encounters home to St. Louis, launching a new global music series, Music Across Borders. The series kicks off with a residency, co-presented by KDHX Community Media, with masterful Persian tar and setar player, Sahba Motallebi, famous for her virtuosity-filled expansion of the traditional sounds and forms of these stringed instruments. The residency will include: interactive performances for immigrant groups at the International Institute of St Louis; a workshop at the Folk School of St. Louis; and a solo concert including a collaborative performance with the Ryan Spearman Band, a local ensemble led by St. Louis music scene mainstay Ryan Spearman, at The Stage at KDHX.
“American Voices is excited to bring our focus on global musical exchange to Saint Louis, connecting our mission with the community in which we live while also contributing to the dynamic, multicultural music and arts scene already alive in the city,” says Executive Director John Ferguson. “Through our work, which has brought American performing arts and education to over 140 nations around the world, we have seen the connections and excitement created by exposing audiences to new sounds and ideas, especially through collaborations between international and local artists. Additionally, through working with immigrant and refugee community leaders and institutions such as the International Institute, we hope to use this music as a catalyst for larger community conversation and connection.”
Motallebi is a fitting artist to spark this conversation. After a notable career of high-profile performances around the world with ensembles like the Iranian National Orchestra, Motallebi landed in Los Angeles. There, she pursued a new direction, one that aims to welcome new audiences to a music rarely heard in the US. She has also dedicated herself to sharing her extensive knowledge of her instruments by developing online resources and instructional materials.
“This will be the first of many Music Across Borders events to happen in St. Louis,” Ferguson notes, “and we are very excited to begin with Sahba Motallebi, a talented artist and arts educator, as she shares her musical talents and traditions with the St. Louis community.”
"KDHX is excited to be partnering with American Voices to bring Sahba Motallebi to The Stage and Folk School of KDHX. Our mission is to build community through media, and the kinds of cross-cultural exchanges that American Voices facilitates aligns perfectly with that mission,” says Allison Wilson of KDHX. “Collaborations across American and World music expand and deepen knowledge, provide context, and highlight not only the differences, but the overlaps in influences and inspirations. No matter where we're from, we make and enjoy music for the same reasons. Recognizing that promotes understanding and unity."
Music Across Borders: Volume 1
Featuring Sahba Motallebi (Persian Tar / Setar) (Iran / US)
Educational & Performance Workshop
Saturday, October 21
2pm - 4pm
The Folk School of KDHX
3323 Washington Ave, St. Louis
Free, all ages
Sahba Motallebi and the Ryan Spearman Band
Saturday, October 21
8pm (Doors 7pm)
The Stage at KDHX
3524 Washington Ave, St. Louis
$15, all ages
Tickets and more information available at www.musicacrossborders.us