The University of Iowa’s Hancher will present the Nile Project at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 11, at the Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City. The ensemble is breaking down cultural barriers through their cross-country collaboration, sharing harmonious music with audiences around the world.
The Nile Project is a collective of musicians from the 11 countries through which the Nile River flows. Led by Egyptian ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis and Ethiopian-American singer Meklit Hadero, the group has collaboratively composed a new body of songs drawn from the Nile Basin’s diverse musical traditions and instruments. The collective’s vocalists sing in 11 different languages, exploring themes of identity, regional solidarity, and intercultural relationships both between and within their respective homelands.
The collective’s musicians regularly meet for multi-week residencies to share their musical traditions and learn from one another. Their instruments include Ethiopian masenko and saxophone, Egyptian ney, oud, violin, simsimiya, and tanbura, Ugandan adungu, bass guitar, and a pan-Nile percussion section. The first gathering took place in 2013, and the group’s album, Aswan, was recorded live at the debut performance.
The Nile Project was conceived as a model for cross-cultural dialogue and exchange, beginning with a gathering of musicians as a way to bring people together from a diverse geographic area. The project has grown beyond the musical programs to include extensive workshops that connect to universities and communities around the world, all with the focus of creating a deeper understanding of the Nile region.
The Nile Project will have a four-day residency in Iowa City, connecting with areas like the Division of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, and the School of Music, both in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the African Studies Program in UI International Programs, and the College of Engineering, in addition to working with students at West High School. They will also have an exchange with local Sudanese musicians at the Pheasant Ridge Community Center. There will also be a show for Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) students at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 12.
There will be a pre-performance discussion in the Douglas and Linda Paul Gallery on the second floor of the Englert Theatre at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 11. Limited seating is available.
The public is also invited to a free public talk titled “The Politics of Water in the Nile River Basin.” The conversation will take place at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, March 12, in Room 427 of the English-Philosophy Building on the UI campus.
The residency and performance is supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from Iowa Arts Council and General Mills Foundation. Additional funds provided by the F. Wendell Miller Fund.
Tickets are $30/25 (college student $27/10; senior citizen $27/22; youth $15/10) from the Hancher Box Office, located on the first floor of the south end of Old Capitol Town Center near the parking ramp. It is open for phone (319-335-1160 or 800-HANCHER) or walk-up business from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays. Tickets also may be ordered online. Any remaining tickets will be available for sale one hour before show time at the Englert Theatre.
Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, contact the Hancher Box Office in advance at 319-335-1158.