ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Born in 1965 in the village of Lwanika in Uganda, Haruna Walusimbi grew up surrounded by rural traditional music performed at funerals, marriage ceremonies, and other social gatherings. Haruna excelled in the many diverse music traditions that thrived in his Busoga village and as result was selected as the Global Youth Earth Day Ambassador for Africa, later winning the Global Youth Earth Day Ambassadors Competition in the Philippines. After completing university, Haruna founded Nile Beat Artists, widely considered to be one of Uganda’s foremost performing arts troupes. He also created the Senator National Cultural Festival, which has grown to become the largest annual cultural event in Uganda. In addition to his many accomplishments in Uganda, Haruna Walusimbi has achieved international renown as an educator, musician, and actor. He performed a leading role in the film Throw Down Your Heart, produced by American banjo legend Bela Fleck. Haruna subsequently worked with Mr. Fleck on the audio recording Throw Down Your Heart: Tales from the Acoustic Planet Vol. 3: Africa Sessions, which won a Grammy Award in 2010 for Best Contemporary World Music Album and Best Pop Instrumental Performance. He also acted in the Academy Award Winning film The Last King of Scotland, starring Forest Whitaker. Haruna Walusimbi has extensive experience in Uganda’s music, dance, and theatrical traditions and stands out as one of his countries greatest living cultural treasures.
Mark Stone, Director – Oakland University Embaire Project
Mark Stone is a musician-educator from Michigan with a passion for using music to bring diverse communities together. As an Associate Professor of Music at Oakland University, Prof. Stone coordinates the school’s world music and percussion programs. He is recognized internationally for his work in global percussion performance and education. He has performed with the foremost musicians of Uganda, Ghana, South Africa, India, Trinidad, Ecuador, and the United States. An accomplished composer and improviser, Mark writes regularly for his many projects. His highly original musical style results from innovative performance practice rooted in a deep knowledge of multiple world traditions. Mark was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar at Makerere University, where he researched traditional Ugandan music and performed with the Nakibembe Xylophone Group. As a member of the Bernard Woma Ensemble, he has performed at festivals in Ghana and gyil concerti with the world’s leading orchestras. In 2012 and 2014, Mark was a featured artist in India at the Bharat Sangeet Utsav Pan-Indian Music Festivals in the cities of Chennai, Coimbatore, Bangalore, and New Delhi.
Roger Braun, Director – Ohio University Embaire Project
Roger Braun is Professor of Percussion at Ohio University, where he was recognized as the institutions’ Presidential Teacher in 2016. He has performed throughout the United States and in Europe, Japan, and Korea. He can be heard on more than a dozen CD recordings, including Sticks and Stones: Music for Percussion and Strings (Equilibrium) which he produced. The wide range of his performance work includes symphony orchestras, world percussion with the Biakuye Percussion Group, latin jazz with Los Viejos Blanquitos, completely improvised music with Unprepared Music for Pianos and Percussion, and contemporary music with Galaxy Percussion. Braun’s compositions and arrangements have been performed around the world and include works for percussion ensemble, jazz percussion ensemble, solo marimba, string quartet, saxophone quartet, prepared vibraphone, and solos and etudes for snare drum.
Alison Shaw, Director – Univeristy of Wisconisn Oshkosh Embaire Project
Alison Shaw is Professor of Percussion and Chair of the Department of Music at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Throughout her career she has embraced chamber music, orchestral performance and solo artistry, and has distinguished herself as an award-winning soloist and an acclaimed interpreter of new music. Her interest and study in other traditions includes Bodhran, Frame Drumming, Arabic Drumming, West African Music and Ugandan traditions. She has developed a unique set of workshops entitled Rhythm and Movement and she has premiered a combination of over 30 solo and chamber works throughout the United States and Europe. Her solo CD Signs of Intelligent Life is released on the Eroica Classics label, and she has recently resumed a solo vibraphone and marimba recording project Cadenza, Fugue and Boogie, which includes 4 world-premiere recordings. Her recordings can be heard on the Eroica Classics, Dorian, Albany, Equilibrium, Mark, BBC and FIM labels. She has served on the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) Board of Directors and has also served as the Chairperson of PAS College Pedagogy Committee. Prior to her appointment to the PAS board of directors, she served as an associate editor for Percussive Notes, the official journal of the Percussive Arts Society.
ABOUT THE SHOWCASE CONCERT: The Embaire Xylophone of Uganda
This proposal is to present a showcase concert featuring the Ugandan Embaire Xylophone, performing music for embaire from the Nakibembe Xylophone Group of Busoga, Uganda. The performers will be students and faculty from three Universities: Oakland University, Ohio University, and the University of Wisconsin-Okshkosh. Additionally, the performance will feature grammy award winning Ugandan artist Haruna Walusimbi as a soloist and performing with the university ensembles.