The Nile Project’s musical collaboration programme brings together artists from the 11 Nile countries (Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda) to make new music that combines the region’s diverse instruments, languages and traditions. Artists from the various Nile countries are encouraged to apply now to take part in the project’s 4th Nile Gathering, which takes place in Aswan, Egypt from 1 to 20 October 2015.
The Nile Project was founded in 2011 by Egyptian ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis and Ethiopian-American singer Meklit Hadero to address the Nile Basin’s cultural and environmental challenges at the core of conflicts in the region. Using music to spark cultural curiosity, the Nile Project engages musicians, students and audiences, encouraging them to feel connected to the world’s longest river and to explore new, sustainable approaches to the region’s problems.
Andrew Reissiger, the project’s Music Program Manager, told Music In Africa more about the project: “A healthy collaborative musical process shares many of the traits that other collaborative processes require: listening, working towards a shared goal, leadership, support and expressing group as well as individual identities... Concerts expose audiences across the Nile Basin to the different cultures of their river neighbours and illustrate how such rich diversity can harmoniously co-exist under a shared Nile identity, thereby exemplifying the potential for peaceful cross-cultural dialogue and participatory leadership.
“Through the music, people begin to grasp the depth of their shared cultural connections, appreciate their Nile cultural identities and value their Nile citizenship, fostering cross-cultural empathy,” he explained. “Musicians demonstrate what collective cultural expression would sound like, illustrating the possibilities resulting from different people, languages, traditions and instruments not usually combined sharing the same space.”
The project’s collective has performed all over Africa and the US, including on a boat in Jinja, Uganda after their second Nile Gathering in early 2014. They went on to play at Sauti za Busara in Zanzibar. In Nairobi, Kenya they played at the Safaricom Jazz Festival and celebrated Nile Day at the Kuona Arts Center. They then we went to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, where we played a few shows including one at Mulatu Astatke's African Jazz Village. In Egypt, they played in Cairo, Aswan and Alexandria. After a break, they reunited in Minya, Egypt for another Nile Gathering, before embarking on a four-month tour throughout the USA, where besides numerous performances they began recording their latest album, titled Jinja, which is due for release in the next year or so.
Reissiger elaborates on their work during the US tour: “We engaged over 30 000 people, working with a diverse array of partners including student and community leaders, entrepreneurs, professors, representatives, university deans, scientists, lawyers, as well as everyday people: the change-makers of tomorrow. We led over 120 workshops, lecture-demonstrations and panel discussions about topics such as civic engagement, resource management, gender and African identity in the region, the role of musicians in social movements, and leadership solutions. Through music workshops, master-classes and over 60 concerts, we demonstrated that our musical process can be a sort of blueprint for a new way to organize the Nile.”
Looking ahead, the Nile Project will be visiting New York University at their Abu Dhabi campus for their UAE debut on 29 October. Similar to the US tour, this will be a week-long residency with educational dialogue and musical components. They are also planning an African tour for early 2016 and a second US tour for 2017. Some of the new musicians who impress at the 4th Nile Gathering could end up touring or recording with the Nile Project in the future, so apply now!
How to apply
The Nile Project is inviting a new class of musicians to join its Collective. Applications are now open. Selected candidates will be invited to the 4th Nile Gathering that will take place in Aswan, Egypt from 1 to 20 October 2015.
The project seeks accomplished traditional and contemporary musicians interested and able to collaborate with peers of different cultures, languages and musical styles. Applicants must be from one of the following countries (irrespective of country of residence): Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Applicants cannot be current members of the Nile Project Collective. Special consideration will be given to musicians who double as community leaders and those with a desire to learn more about sustainability and environmental issues. Educators, storytellers, dancers, and multi-instrumentalists are highly encouraged to apply. Proficiency in English is important but not required. Computer proficiency and dependable access to internet is required.