2016 Convention Performers
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Mistress of Ceremonies
Renée Blanche, after serving on active duty in the military, began her part-time career in radio as a volunteer announcer at community radio station KXCR FM in El Paso, Texas. What started out as a hobby eventually became a passion. Encouraged to seek a paying position in commercial radio, she was hired as a weekend announcer and produced a show called El Paso After Dark that combined New Age and light contemporary music for K-LITE. B-94 FM followed after K-LITE went out of business.
Renée moved to Kansas City in 1993 and was hired as the midday announcer for KCUR. Since September 1994, she has been the host and producer of Night Tides, a contemplative New Age music show that airs on Sunday night from 8:00 p.m. to midnight CST. Local magazine The Pitch, in the “Best of Kansas City” edition, awarded Night Tides as “The Best Sunday Night Ritual” in 2002. In 2012, Renée was awarded “Best Radio Voice” by the same magazine.
Renée Blanche serves as a volunteer for public television KCPT, as well as in the community as a moderator/facilitator. She is a T’ai Chi practitioner, loves to dance, walk, and spend time in the Colorado mountains.
Evening Concert Performers
Flutist, composer, writer, photographer, and bandleader, Rhonda’s diversity, combined with her musical and technical wizardry, has begun a new generation for the flute as a leading voice in the music world. Composing much of her own repertoire, Larson continues to be recognized as a visionary force creating a refreshing hybrid music for the flute, including her versatility on an array of ethnic flutes from around the world. Rhonda is also well-known as a "flutriloquist," her technique of singing and playing flute at the same time. In addition, she runs her own music publishing company, Wood Nymph Music.
*Rhonda Larson is a Grammy® Award winning flutist.
World Music That Takes You Places!
As one of South Africa’s foremost musicians and a multi-award winner, Wouter Kellerman is a true crossover artist. He thrives on experimenting with the shades, textures, and colors that his magic flute is capable of painting, creatively blending them with other instrumentation and vocal sounds. Using his classical training as a foundation, Kellerman focuses his attention on world music, exploring the versatility of the flute and fusing classical and contemporary sounds, resulting in a potent and thrilling musical encounter. Wouter’s strikingly original flute-playing enthralls audiences around the globe. Most recently, Wouter Kellerman played Carnegie Hall in New York City with pianist Vincent Lyn.
*Wouter Kellerman received a 2015 Grammy® Award in the New Age category at the 57th Annual Grammy® Awards for his album Winds of Samsara, a collaboration with Indian composer and producer Ricky Kej. This year, Wouter received a Grammy® Award nomination for the 58th Annual Grammy® Awards in the Best Contemporary Instrumental Album category for his CD, Love Language.
Ron Korb is an award-winning flutist famous for playing a wide variety of indigenous woodwinds from around the world. He is a much sought-after master of the flute and a true musical ambassador whose evocative blend of Asian, Celtic, Middle Eastern, Latin, Classical, and Jazz influences embody the diverse cultures, traditions, and experiences of his travels and mixed heritage.
His latest album, Asia Beauty, showcases the traditional flutes of China. It has already won several awards including “Best of Show” at The Global Music Awards, 2015.
*Ron Korb is included on the list of the "Ten Best Flute Players in the World." This year, Ron received a Grammy® Award nomination for the 58th Annual Grammy® Awards in the Best New Age Album category for his CD, Asia Beauty.
The Traditional Flute Voice of Indigenous America
Kevin Locke is Lakota (Hunkpapa Band) and Anishinabe. Tokeya Inajin is his Lakota name, meaning "The First to Arise.” Kevin is known throughout the world as a visionary hoop dancer, the preeminent player of the indigenous Northern Plains flute, a gifted traditional storyteller, cultural ambassador, recording artist, and educator. Kevin Locke is acknowledged to be the pivotal force in the now powerful revival of the North American indigenous flute tradition that teetered on the brink of extinction just 30 years ago. Kevin was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), which recognized him as a "Master Traditional Artist who has contributed to the shaping of our artistic traditions and to preserving the cultural diversity of the United States."
*Kevin Locke is a two-time Native American Music Award winner, and he was the recipient of the prestigious Bush Foundation Award.
Raman Kalyan, also known as Flute Raman, is one of the world’s leading flutists in the Carnatic style of music. His charismatic showmanship has enabled him to perform globally, captivating audiences at many of the world’s major venues. In addition to Carnatic music concerts, Raman also performs Jugalbandhi with North Indian classical musicians and East-West fusion concerts. Raman has taken roles as an accompanist, composer, and conductor for more than 400 commercial soundtracks. In addition, he founded the Sri Krishna Academy of Music to teach and propagate Indian Classical music.
Known for his authenticity and soulful musicianship, Eliyahu Sills has been performing music for more than 20 years on multiple instruments, including bansuri, Turkish and Arabic ney, the upright bass, and electric bass. He performs throughout the country with his critically-acclaimed band, The Qadim Ensemble, whose CD reached #7 on Billboard's World Music charts, as well as collaborating with many highly acclaimed musicians.
Performing with Eliyahu will be Jason Ranjit Parmar, a multi-percussionist whose passionate study of rhythm began in his early childhood. He has since gone on to study world rhythmic traditions hailing from West Africa, Nigeria, Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, and India. Jason has been training in Indian tabla continuously for the past seven years with master Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri.
Patrick Olwell and Matthew Olwell
Patrick Olwell has been making conical-bore wooden flutes since the 1970s, and has developed a unique original design based on historical instruments and extensive study of antique flutes. Primarily used for playing traditional Irish music, Olwell flutes are renowned worldwide for meticulous craftsmanship and quality, and are played by the likes of Matt Molloy of The Chieftains, Seamus Egan of Solas, and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull.
Matthew Olwell has been playing flute and percussion since childhood. From the family's background in traditional Irish music, he expanded his study to include the percussive dance styles of Ireland, Great Britain, and North America, eventually focusing on Appalachian flatfooting and tap. He danced for nine years with Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, and has performed as a guest artist in Riverdance, as well as with Eileen Ivers, John Skelton, and other beloved Irish music groups. Matthew now plays in the band Maivish, and is producing CyberTrad, his first solo recording project in 2016.
Peter Phippen and Rahbi Crawford
Crystal and Tibetan singing bowls; gongs; antique Japanese shakuhachi and bamboo flutes; contemporary fusion bansuri; and Anasazi/ Mojave flute replicas set in a lavish, improvised, and contemplative musical experience.
*Peter Phippen is a Grammy®-nominated world flutist.
Born in Argentina, Rodrigo Rodriguez is both a traditional and innovative shakuhachi player who resides in Spain and travels often to Tokyo, Japan. A versatile musician, his music can be described as Japanese traditional, contemporary, classical, New Age, world, and avant-garde. To date, Rodrigo has released seven CDs of shakuhachi music.
Xavier Quijas Yxayotl
Performer and Maker of Pre-Columbian Flutes
Xavier Quijas Yxayotl is a world flutist, composer, and instrument maker known for his Aztec and Mayan music recreations from the ancient Americas. He is one of a few Mexican artists who construct instruments identical to those used by the pre-Hispanic peoples. Based upon ancient manuscripts, Xavier’s instruments are replicas of the instruments used by the Aztecs, Mayans, and other indigenous peoples from Mexico. The magic of Xavier’s instruments is a faithful reproduction of the autochthonous musical instruments, and the music is authentic and natural.
*Xavier Quijas Yxayotl is a mulitple Native American Music Award nominee.
Michael Graham Allen (Coyote Oldman)
Recording artist, flute maker, scholar, and musician, Michael Graham Allen has been researching and reintroducing New World flutes since the 1970s. He is a profound music pioneer, recording contemporary flute music well before the Native American flute took hold in the mainstream commercial recording industry. His recordings, Night Forest, Tear of the Moon, Landscape, and Thunder Chord, received much acclaim, marking them as pivotal recordings in the contemporary genre labeled by some as New Age and/or New Age Electronica, respectively. Michael lit a firestorm of innovative musical awareness. He introduced the Native American flute to numerous music markets all over the world, starting a revolution of interest in the instrument and in the culture from whence it originated. Michael is celebrated as an innovator, gifted musician, and a master craftsman, as he is credited with the reintroduction of the Anasazi, Mojave, and Hopi flutes, ancient rim-blown flutes of the New World.
Known for creating heartfelt and healing music and labeled as a “brilliant flutist” by The Los Angeles Times, Suzanne Teng is a world flutist, recording artist, composer, and teacher originally from Berkeley, California. She is currently based in Los Angeles where she performs with her band Suzanne Teng & Mystic Journey, records for soundtracks and sound recordings, and presents music workshops. In performance and on recordings, Suzanne plays C flute, alto, bass and contrabass flutes, piccolo, dizi (China), Turkish ney and zurna, Indian bansuri, Indonesian suling, panpipes, recorders, penny whistles, the Native American flute, ocarinas, flutes from Africa and Eastern Europe, and double reed instruments from Egypt. In addition, she also plays percussion instruments and sings. Also appearing with Suzanne Teng will be Gilbert Levy.
*Suzanne Teng has won an International Acoustic Music Award and two Independent Music Awards.
Carolyn Koebel is a multi-faceted percussionist interested in traditional and indigenous musical styles from around the globe. Her studies range from Western classical traditions to Japanese taiko, West African and diasporic styles, world frame drumming traditions, Brazilian samba, Arabic drum and dance traditions, contemporary jazz improvisation, and much more. She works as a music therapist in a broad range of settings, with more than ten years in Hospice and special education. She specializes in community music therapy programming focusing on multi-cultural, interactive, inter-generational collaborations. She has a host of performing ensembles and solo and collaborative recordings.
*Carolyn Koebel will perform on en evening concert with Rhonda Larson.
Afternoon Concert Series Performers
Foremost an ocarina soloist, an ocarina designer, educator, and popularist, Cris Gale works with both international and domestic cultural interchange organizations to not only advance the ocarina, but also increase cultural understanding through music. In 2013, she founded the United States Ocarina Association. With a a collection of more than 300 ocarinas, Cris is currently working toward the creation of the first United States ocarina museum.
Jonny Lipford is an award-winning instrumentalist who specializes in music produced with the Native American-style flute, as well as various wooden and bamboo world flutes. His movements and melodies are created with such grace and agility that one cannot help but be engaged in his music. Jonny will share flute songs, stories, and inspirations with his audience.
Winne Clement is a flute maker and performer from Belgium, specializing in the fujara, overtone flutes, single and double shepherd flutes and whistles, Moldavian kavals, Native American-style flutes, and various experimental flutes. For his performance, Winne will play the fujara, kaval, and other world flutes including the Alghosazi, his own contemporary version of the ancient Anasazi flute.
Of Mi'kmaq/Cree descent, seventeen-year-old Gareth Laffely is a self-taught performer of the Native American-style flute. He began his recording career at the age of 12. A song from his debut CD, The Journey, placed third in the popular vote in a GRAMMY recording contest. His follow up CD, Sky Before a Storm, was featured on NPR's Hearts of Space national radio show. Gareth received the 2014 Rising Star Award from the Native American Music Awards (Nammys), two Nammy nominations, and four Indian Summer Music Awards nominations.
Timothy J.P. Gomez
Timothy J.P. Gomez’s love of the Native American flute began in the early 1990s and it is an instrument that has remained in his life for the past two decades. An El Paso native, he is a self-taught artist who, at the young age of 11, learned to play by ear while listening to artists like R. Carlos Nakai and Douglas Spotted Eagle. Timothy gains inspiration from his frequent journeys on the road and travels through the southwestern areas of the United States. In 2012, Timothy won first place in the Native Rhythms Flute Playing Competition, which has encouraged him to continue on his journey to perform for those who share his passion for the Native American flute.
With its unique, enchanting sound, the contemporary Native American flute has become increasingly popular, not only as a purely musical instrument, but as an ideal tool to enhance relaxation, meditation, and healing. John Sarantos is both an exceptional performer of the Native American flute and one of the world's preeminent Native American flute instructors. As a former member of the band, Sun Shadows, John Sarantos performed on five songs on the recording, Journey to the Sun, which was nominated for Best Instrumental Recording for the 2014 Native American Music Awards. As a founding member of the New York-based flute duo, NightDancers, with Gera Clark, their 2007 debut release, Montana Crossings, was nominated for a 2008 Indian Summer Music Award in the Best Native Spirit Recording category.
Al Jewer is a respected record producer, engineer, artist, composer, and accomplished flute player. As a studio musician for the last 20 years, his work in all genres of music reads like a quilt of musical styles. He has played early music, classical, folk, jazz, Celtic, reggae, rock, poetry fusion, and experimental music. However, in 1986, Al discovered the beauty of the Native American-style flute and its simple, yet profound music. Through this experience, he has found his true musical voice.
A traditional Chinese musician, Kerry Leung is a multi-instrumentalist. His self-taught musical studies began in Guangzhou, China, where he began playing the bamboo flute at the age of twelve. After he moved to Chicago in 1981, he continued to expand his craft and continues following his journey "in the music." Kerry has been performing Chinese music for more than forty years. He plays traditional Chinese works on the following instruments: dizi (bamboo flute), xiao (vertical flute), pipa (grand lute), ruan (moon guitar), liu qin (mandolin), er-hu (Chinese two-stringed fiddle), gao-hu and ban-hu (high- range fiddles), and hulusi (free-reed gourd aerophone). Kerry is a member of the Chinese Music Society of North America, the Chinese Fine Arts Society in Chicago, and he is the music director of the Moon Festival.
Victoria Shoemaker received a bachelor’s degree in music education from The VanderCook College of Music (Chicago, Illinois), where she studied classical flute and piccolo performance with Kaye Clements and Mary Christine-Stingley. Her other flute instructors include Laurie Lau and Dr. Tim Lane, Professor of Flute at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Victoria also studied bamboo flute performance/flute making with Billy Miller of Windwood Flutes. Presently, she is studying antique and contemporary world flutes and improvisation with Grammy-nominated flutist, Peter Phippen.
Recent performances include the Indigenous Music Awards (Winnipeg, Canada), where Victoria played flute with award-winning singer/songwriter Kelly Jackson for her 2015 CD release, Renditions of the Soul. Victoria is currently presenting improvisational performances throughout Wisconsin with world flutist Peter Phippen and percussionist, Tiit Raid. Victoria Shoemaker is a Promotion Music Records recording artist.