Art Omi: Music 2022
A polyglot pianist, accordionist and composer who “truly synthesizes traditions rather than simply flirting with them” (JazzTimes). In 2016 Simone Baron founded Arco Belo, a virtuosic genre-fluid chamber ensemble that dances in the spaces between jazz, avant chamber music, and Jewish diasporic music from around the globe. They have been awarded grants from Chamber Music America, South Arts Jazz Road, and the Maryland State Arts Council to tour and record their sophomore album. Committed to building a more inclusive musical community, Simone is a founding member of the Boulanger Initiative, a nonprofit advocacy group that fights gender discrimination in concert programming.
An award-winning ruan instrumentalist, Neil Chua is the first musician to earn a Master’s degree in traditional ruan (traditional Chinese flute) from the Shanghai Conservatory. His fluidity in melding different cultures led to invitations to participate in various acclaimed international music exchange programs to promote ruan to global audiences. His dedication to the traditional arts made him the first artist-in-residency for the inaugural Singapore National Arts Council’s Traditional Arts Residency Program at Stamford Arts Centre. Neil also founded RuanAtWorkz Musical Arts (R.A.W.), a charity that promotes traditional culture, music and other forms of traditional values.
Composer, experimental vocalist, improviser, and performance artist Rachel Epperly strives to achieve new levels of vulnerability with each new work, accessing vulnerability primarily through the voice, an instrument deeply connected with the body and thus prime for expressing embodied themes such gender, queerness, and nature. Rather than providing answers, her music poses complex, personal questions surrounding these issues and prompts audiences to self-reflect with similar vulnerability. Although trained in classical composition, she draws from the vivid storytelling and emotion of experimental pop and pansori, working with movement, text, and narrative.
Also known as “Ogbu-Oja,” Gerald Eze graduated from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka (Nigeria) with an MA in ethnomusicology, and is now a lecturer there, where he demonstrates and theorizes on Igbo traditional music and oja (traditional Nigerian flute) performance. He promotes oja by exploring it in novel textures and styles to break new bounds. He was awarded the Christopher Kolade Prize for Musical Excellence for his rare mastery of various indigenous musical instruments of the Igbo. Gerald is the founder of Ichoku Academy, a school that trains children on the performance of Igbo music.
James Ilgenfritz, Alumni-in-Residence
Composer and bassist James Ilgenfritz is recognized in The New Yorker for his “characteristic magnanimity” and his “invaluable contributions to New York’s new-music community.” In 2021 he released “Aging” with Lucie Vítková, and “Loss And Gain” with Brian Chase and Robbie Lee. James has performed around the US, Europe, and in Asia; has had residencies at John Zorn’s The Stone in 2015 and 2018; and was Artist-In-Residence at ISSUE Project Room in 2011. He is currently pursuing a PhD in music composition at University of California Irvine.
A Korean-born, Seattle-based new media artist focusing on developing new artistic expressions through contemporary technology. Haein Kang received her Ph.D. in Digital Arts and Experimental Media from the University of Washington in Seattle and an Honorary Mention in Sound Art at the Prix Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria. Haein's works have been presented at various international venues, including the SOMA Museum of Art, International Symposium on Electronic Art, International Computer Music Conference, SIGGRAPH-Asia, IEEE-GEM, and CODAME ART+TECH.
A saxophone player, composer, improviser, and multidisciplinary artist from Buenos Aires, Argentina (now based in Germany), Camila Nebbia’s music practice reflects the constant creation of new sounds and visual landscapes, exploring the relationship between different forms of composition, free improvisation and mixed media, incorporating her visual work of combined media, such as super 8 film, archives, expanded film & digital video. Memory, identity, and the connection between both are the main resonances of her work.
A graduate of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Lyon, violist Claire Merlet joined the Banff Center of the Arts (Canada) for a postgraduate cycle and then Hochschule of Essen (Germany). As a soloist with Ensemble 2E2M and Ensemble Alternance, she has appeared in prestigious festivals in France, Europe, Asia and the Americas. Her natural curiosity led her to explore new horizons such as musical theatre and improvisation, giving her the opportunity to collaborate with various choreographers, conductors and stage directors. Passionate about pedagogy, Claire Merlet teaches viola in Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional of Rueil-Malmaison and in Paris.
An accomplished musician, researcher, and educator, Balakrishnan Raghavan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Cross-Cultural-Musicology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, researching Carnatic music, Bhakti-Sufi traditions, translation, poetry, gender, caste, and the politics of spirituality. He’s received a UCSC Regent’s Fellowship, UCSC Arts Dean’s DEI grant, BITSAA Global 30 under 30 Award, and Flow Fund Grant. He trained for over twenty years in traditional music, and shares his music with children from diverse backgrounds, performing in India, the UK, Mexico, and the US.
Breathing musicianship and creativity into everything she touches, Cleo Reed bends genre through the use of guitar, vocal harmonies, and synth soundscapes informed by the origins of electronic music in the black underground. Over her brief career, her current collaborators/mentors in music production and sound designer include Jon Batiste, Nick Hakim, and Duendita.
A Brazilian composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist, Paulo Sartori has worked with a wide range of acclaimed Brazilian artists such as Alceu Valença, Lô Borges, and Orquestra Ouro Preto, whilst always maintaining an active participation in the independent music scene. He is co-founder of Kriol, an ensemble focused on Cape Verdean music, and of Todas las Puertas, a project led in partnership with Colombian percussionist Johanna Amaya, aimed at multidisciplinary artistic collaboration and educational endeavors. Sartori also writes and produces original music for cinema.