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The Art of Improvisation and Building a Vocal Community with Ysaye M. Barnwell and Silvia Nakkach

September  21 - 22, 2013
10:00 am - 5:30 pm


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Richie Unterberger
Ysaye BarnwellSilvia Nakkach

The Art of Improvisation and Building a Vocal Community with Ysaye M. Barnwell and Silvia Nakkach

There is an awesome power in the human voice, and when uncommon voices are blended for the common good, they become a vocal community at its best. Masterfully led by Ysaye M. Barnwell and Silvia Nakkach, singers and non-singers alike will share the common experience of learning in the oral tradition. We sing rhythms; chants; traditional songs from Africa and the diaspora; and a variety of songs from African American culture including spirituals, ring shouts, hymns, gospels, and songs from the civil rights movement. As part of the musical journey, Nakkach will bring together sacred chants from the Afro-Brazilian orixá tradition, indigenous songs, and the contemplative and ecstatic experience of the Indian ragas. The historical, social, and political context will be provided as an introduction to the songs. Throughout this experience, the group will explore the values imbedded in the music, the nature of cultural responses to, and influences on, political and social struggle, and finally the significance of a shared communal experience in our personal lives.

Through improvisational group techniques and the direct experience of the music of the East and the West, we discover how distant worlds of music complement and complete each other. This all-levels workshop is designed to help develop confidence through creating a positive musical experience. All that is required is a willingness to sing.


Ysaye M. Barnwell, PhD, has performed with the internationally renowned African American female quintet Sweet Honey In The Rock® for more than 20 years. She has spent much of her time offstage working as a master teacher and choral clinician in African American cultural performance. Barnwell has conducted her workshop Building a Vocal Community®: Singing in the African American Tradition for the past 25 years, and on 3 continents, making her work in the field a significant source of inspiration for both singers and non-singers; and a model of pedagogy for educators, cultural activists, and historians. www.ymbarnwell.com

Silvia Nakkach, MA, MMT, is an award-winning composer, a former music psychotherapist, and a pioneer in the field of sound and transformation of consciousness. She has devoted 28 years of study to the art of raga singing and classical Indian music under the direction of Maestro Ali Akbar Khan, and has been involved in clinical research in the areas of micro-tonal singing and systematic uses of the voice to transform consciousness. She is the founding director of Vox Mundi School of the Voice and is on the faculty at CIIS, where she has designed and is the core instructor of the Sound, Voice, and Music Healing Certificate program. She is the author of Free Your Voice, Awakening to Life through Singing, and has released ten CDs.

Saturday and Sunday
September 21-22, 2013
CIIS Main Building
$250/$275/$300 (when one price tier sells out, that tier is closed)
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Available for one unit of academic credit to CIIS students.

California Institute of Integral Studies, 1453 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103


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The Women's Spirituality Program

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