“We engaged Journey West for a performance at our Endless Mountain Music Festival. It was sold-out because people were curious about what all the fuss was about. The event was spellbinding and the 10 minute standing ovation gave testament to the enthusiasm that this wonderful group generated. ”
Dr. Stephen Gunzenhauser, Artistic Director, Endless Mountain Music Festival
“Journey West presented an extremely engaging and informative performance at SUNY Oneonta, as part of one of our regular concert series. The audience, ranging from townspeople to students with widely divergent musical backgrounds, was uniformly and greatly moved and energized by what they heard. I would give my highest recommendation to any organization interested in presenting a lively, virtuosic and entertaining evening of music.” Ben Aldridge, Lecturer in Music – SUNY Oneonta
Journey West is a musical program chronicling the migration of melody through an interactive multi-media performance.
They track melodies and changing instrumentation beginning in the Middle East, traveling through Eastern and Western Europe, and finally arriving in the United States.
The program illustrates the primary factors involved in carrying melodies to distant land: wars, imperialism, nomadic dispersions, mass emigrations due to political oppression, and musical crazes that sweep the globe.
The musical performance is presented with changing PowerPoint slides to help illustrate the regional and musical differences encountered on the Journey West. The musicians offer demonstrations on their respective instruments and provide basic theoretical explanations to accompany the technical examples.
The Journey West is designed with multiculturalism in mind; to educate those interested in distant ethnicities and to allow members of ethnicities presented in the program to enjoy music of their homeland or ancestors. Two musicians in the group served as director and string coach for the Cornell Middle Eastern Ensemble in the early 2000’s. During this time, students attending Cornell, and members of the Ithaca community from a variety of countries, gathered together to celebrate and perform the music of the Middle East. The group inspired a familial rapport with individuals far from their homeland, both in the ensemble and in audiences. Many of the individuals from this era still keep in touch as close friends.
Journey West’s mission is to celebrate diversity while providing an exciting educational experience. In addition, 5% of their income is donated to the UNHCR and Foundation Baremboim Said to help migrants and the disadvantaged.
The Journey West program expands the Cornell Middle Eastern Music Ensemble’s goal of fostering unity and understanding between different cultures, including Jewish, Roma, European, American, and the Middle East.
Max Buckholtz: Violin
Mark Wienand: Saxophone, Flute
Nikolai Ruskin: Percussion, Oud
Dara Anissi: Guitar, Mandolin
Chad Lieberman: Bass, Accordian