WCC hosts World Arts and Education Forum series through April

The Washtenaw Community College (WCC) Division of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences and Student Activities Department will sponsor a World Arts & Education Forum series of free music/art performances throughout the Winter 2023 semester.

The series also features live discussions with artists from around the world.

The series kicks off on Thursday, January 26, with a virtual presentation of “Building Global Learning Communities: World Arts, Altruism and Problem Solving” by WCC Performing Arts faculty member Dr. Michael Naylor. Eight on-campus performances follow through April 21, each with an opportunity to view a virtual live stream.

Non-profit organizations World Center for Creative Education, International Friendship for the Performing Arts and Amplify Fellowship are co-sponsoring the series.

The theme of the Winter ’23 series is “Artistic Courage Over Marginalization & Division,” which was inspired by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote regarding disciplined non-conformity and transformative education: “An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. And this is one of the big problems of life, that so many people never quite get to the point of rising above self.”

The World Arts & Education Series lineup:

Building Global Learning Communities: World Arts, Altruism and Problem Solving

WHEN: Noon-1 p.m. on Thursday, January 26

WHERE: Zoom (https://wccnet-edu.zoom.us/j/84177530310)

WHAT: WCC Performing Arts faculty member Dr. Michael Naylor is part of the Learning Planet Festival, a global learning society. In this presentation to the society — which is free and open to the public — participants will be asked to “consider building creative learning communities around mutual passions and to employ ‘artistic activism’ to imagine alternatives, fueled by the diversity of our world's cultural assets.”

Art Music: The History of Creativity, Artistry and the Human Search for Purpose

WHEN: Noon-1:30 p.m., Friday, January 27

WHERE: Towsley Auditorium, Morris Lawrence Building (live stream available)

WHAT: Student ensembles and performers from Concordia University Ann Arbor, will perform diverse works that were born from the integration of Judeo/Christian church music and religious devotion, but that became mainstream to what we now refer to as European ‘classical’ or art music. This musical tradition has magnified the importance of an awareness of the history and value of human religion, spirituality and the human search for purpose or connection to our world's music and cultures without pressing beliefs or values upon each other.

Capoeira Angola: A Fascinating Martial Art of Encoding and Resistance

WHEN: Noon-1:30 p.m., Friday, February 10

WHERE: Room 140, Crane Liberal Arts & Sciences Building (live stream available)

WHAT: Special guest Mestre Silvio dos Reis (a.k.a. Mestre Silvinho), who started Capoeira Angola in 1986, now lives in Seattle and teaches the ancient African martial art in colleges and public and private schools. Capoeira dates back to the 1500s in Brazil. Fueled by the colonial race for economic dominance, the Portuguese enslaved Africans from all over the West Coast of Africa to work the sugar cane fields in Brazil. Living in this oppressed society, they used their knowledge of music and dance rituals from their homelands to develop an innovative and profound manner of using their body and soul to fight for freedom. From this resistance, Capoeira was born.

Jewish & Romani Contributions to our World’s Cultures & Arts

WHEN: Noon-1:30 p.m., Friday, February 24

WHERE: Towsley Auditorium, Morris Lawrence Building (live stream available)

WHAT: World-renowned Klezmorim/Jewish and Roma-collaborative musician, scholar and documentary producer Yale Strom is the special guest. The session focuses on the history of cultural exceptionalism used to control, abuse or favor one group over another and how it has created the fertile ground through which democide or genocide in political, religious, or cultural forms was made possible. Among cultures with the longest tenure of being dehumanized are the Jewish & Romani (Roma) communities. Strom is a pioneer among klezmer (musical tradition of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe) revivalists in conducting extensive field research in among the Jewish and Romani communities since 1981.

‘Talking Drums,’ the Spirit of West African Music & Community Building

WHEN: Noon-1:30 p.m., Friday, March 3

WHERE: Towsley Auditorium, Morris Lawrence Building (live stream available)

WHAT: Ghanaian master drummer and educator Sowah Mensah will discuss how West African cultures have contributed among the most prolific, yet under-recognized, influences on the cultures and music of the Americas. This exchange — born most regrettably from the Atlantic slave trade to the Americas — transferred the multi-century evolution of sophisticated African communication, community and music/dance traditions with a blend of enormously important qualities, to the African American music traditions now part of every music genre across the Americas.

Special Evening Annual Event Honoring Black Women: Reflections of Wisdom Through Poetry and Song

WHEN: 7-8:30 p.m., Friday, March 24

WHERE: Towsley Auditorium, Morris Lawrence Building (live stream available)

WHAT: This program will focus on issues of concern augmented by inspirational and empowering poetry, song and dialogue, featuring Harlem artist, author and activist Karen Taborn, specialists in the African-American culture, and young black women poets and songwriters, selected by Amplify, a non-profit promoting anti-racist empowerment through the arts. WCC Sociology instructor Harriette Moore-Kovac and Cherisa Allen of the Resiliency Center will moderate.

The Kora & the Pipa: Creative Cross-Cultural Exchange of West African and Chinese Traditions

WHEN: Noon-1:30 p.m., Friday, April 14

WHERE: Towsley Auditorium, Morris Lawrence Building

WHAT: Musical, cultural and educational exchanges are occurring around the world at the speed of our technology, but the exchanges have ancient roots. Kora master Kadialy Kouyate, from Senegal, was recommended to Chinese pipa master Gao Hong as a possible partner to create an album together, despite neither musician knowing how the pipa and kora might sound together. “To our surprise, even though we were from different continents and had just met, our music mixed together so well and was so harmonious.” The duo shows that music has no boundaries and can connect people’s hearts regardless of where they are from.

Chinese & Japanese Calligraphy: Where Philosophy, Movement and Art Converge

WHEN: Noon-1:30 p.m., Friday, April 21

WHERE: Room 140, Crane Liberal Arts & Sciences Building (live stream available)

WHAT: Special guest Luowei Liao grew up in different parts of the Pearl River Delta region of Southern China with a passion for traditional Chinese calligraphy and world languages. To understand the long history of calligraphy and character painting in China, Japan or Korea, we must understand numerous overlapping disciplines, not the least of which include philosophy, linguistics, religion, movement/dance and art. This session will be moderated by Elisabeth Thoburn, chair of the WCC Humanities, Languages & the Arts Department, has traveled both to China and Japan and is delighted to moderate this session.

About Washtenaw Community College

Washtenaw Community College (WCC), Ann Arbor, Michigan, educates students through a wide range of associate and certificate programs in areas such as health care, business, STEM and advanced transportation and mobility. WCC offers accelerated and online programs and is ranked the number one community college in Michigan by Intelligent.com and Schools.com. The college also works through community, business and union partnerships to develop highly specialized training programs to meet the region’s workforce talent needs.

For more information about Washtenaw Community College, visit www.wccnet.edu.

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