J. H. Kwabena Nketia: Composer 

J. H. Kwabena Nketia was born on June 22, 1921 at Mampong Ashanti (Ghana).  He began his formal training in music in a Teacher Training College in Ghana, continued at Trinity College of Music, London, and later at Julliard School of Music, Columbia University (with Henry Cowell) and Northwestern University for short periods as a Fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation. Membership of the International Music Council (UNESCO) and other international music organizations enabled him to interact with several eminent western composers and educators.

Exploring ways of writing art music that utilizes African resources and modes of expression in their own terms while allowing for the application of techniques that expand or enrich it without submerging its identity has been his primary goal. The need for this was demonstrated by an older composer Ephraim Amu, his mentor, who specialized in composing new choral music. It was Amu who encouraged Nketia to go to “the traditional musicians and learn from them” because this was “how he started.” Following his advice, Nketia combined composition with ethnomusicology, concentrating on Africa as his primary area of field research interest. He has published several scholarly articles and books, including the Music of Africa (W.W.Norton 1974), which won an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award in 1975, and which has been translated into a number of languages, including German, Italian, Chinese and Japanese.

Nketia has written not only several choral works and solo songs in his own language, some of which are broadcast by the Ghana Broadcasting and Television Corporation, but also a number of instrumental pieces which draw their inspiration and source materials from different ethnic groups.

 

 

Kofi Agawu: Professor of Music 

A native of Ghana, Agawu earned a bachelor's degree in music from Reading University in the United Kingdom in 1977, a master's degree in musical analysis from King's College London in 1978, and a Ph.D. in historical musicology from Stanford University in 1982. He is also certified by the Royal Academy of Music in the teaching of singing and by the Royal College of Music in musicianship and theory.

Agawu has taught at Princeton since 1998, having taught earlier at Yale University, Cornell University, King's College London, Duke University, and Haverford College. His honors include the prestigious Dent Medal in 1992, awarded by the Royal Musical Association and International Musicological Society for "outstanding contribution to musicology."

 

 

 

Rachel Barton Pine: Violin 

American violinist Rachel Barton Pine has appeared as soloist with many of the world's most prestigious orchestras, including the Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore, Montreal, Vienna, New Zealand and Iceland Symphonies, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, working with conductors including Charles Dutoit, Zubin Mehta, Erich Leinsdorf, Marin Alsop, Neeme Järvi, and Placido Domingo. Acclaimed collaborations include Daniel Barenboim, Christoph Eschenbach, William Warfield, Christopher O'Riley and Mark O'Connor. Her festival appearances include Ravinia, Marlboro, and Salzburg. She has been featured on St. Paul Sunday, Performance Today, From the Top, CBS Sunday Morning, and NBC's Today. 

Her 14 critically acclaimed albums for the Cedille, Dorian, and Cacophony labels include Brahms and Joachim Violin Concertos with Carlos Kalmar and the Chicago Symphony, "Scottish Fantasies" with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and "Beethoven and Clement Violin Concertos" with José Serebrier and the Royal Philharmonic. She holds top prizes from the J.S. Bach (gold medal), Queen Elisabeth, Paganini, Kreisler, Szigeti, and Montreal international competitions, and has twice been honored as a Chicagoan of the Year. Her charitable activities include serving as a trustee of the Music Institute of Chicago and president of the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation. She plays the Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu (Cremona 1742), known as the "ex-Soldat," on generous loan from her patron.


 

Obo Addy: Master Drummer 


Obo Addy, the son of a Wonche medicine man in Ghana West Africa, was designated a "master drummer" at the age of six. Surrounded by his enormous family (his father had 55 children by 10 wives) and thoroughly immersed in the core musical traditions of his people, Addy embodied the skills and deep values of Ga music as few could.During his teenage years and after World War II, he absorbed the international pop music which had seeped into his home town of Accra. Addy played in Joe Kelly's Band, The Ghana Broadcasting Band, and the Farmers Council Band for many years mostly playing European and American music. He later gravitated to Highlife, the new blend of African and European instrumentation. In 1969, he was employed by the Arts Council of Ghana as a Ga master of the national music. In 1972, he and his brothers performed at the Olympic Games in Munich and embarked on an international tour. They lived in London and toured extensively until 1978 when he moved to the United States and settled in Portland, Oregon. With his wife, Susan, he created
Homowo African Arts and Cultures, a not-for-profit organization which hold an annual festival which has introduced thousands of people to the music of Ghana. He's a richly skilled teacher who conducts numerous in-school residencies and workshops. Obo's currently writing music which blends African rhythms with classical instrumentation.Obo Addy currently teaches music at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. He travels throughout the country conducting teaching residencies and performing both solo and with his performing groups. He leads two ensembles which tour nationally- Okropong, dedicated to traditional tribal music and dance of Ghana, and Kukrudu, which performs original music written by Addy. His numerous recordings include two recent works entitled "Let me Play My Drums" and "Okropong." Obo's newest recordings, Wonche Bi and Afieye Okropong, were released on the Alula label.In 1996 Obo Addy was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship Award by the National Endowment for the Arts. This is the highest honor a traditional artist can receive in this country. Obo is the first African born artist to ever receive the award. This picture shows Obo Addy receiving the award from Jane Alexander, NEA director. 

 

 

Icicle Creek Piano Trio 


Oksana Ezhokina

Co-Artistic Director & Resident Pianist

Icicle Creek Piano Trio – piano

Oksana Ezhokina, is a native of Ryazan, Russia. The winner of piano competitions in Russia and the United States, Ms. Ezhokina has given numerous solo and chamber performances in both countries. Her collaborations have included concerts with such ensembles as the Seattle Chamber Players, Klimt Piano Trio and the Contemporary Chamber Players. A dedicated performer of works by contemporary composers, she has premiered music by Laura Kaminsky and Paul Drescher, among others.

Ms. Ezhokina was awarded a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in piano performance from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 2004. She also holds an Artist Diploma from the Ryazan School of Music in Russia, a Master of Music degree in piano from Northern Illinois University and a Bachelor of Music degree from Walla Walla College. Her principal teachers were Christina Dahl, Donald Walker, Leonard Richter and Eleanor Oragyoff, and she has coached chamber music with pianists Gilbert Kalish and Seymour Lipkin as well as members of the Juilliard, Emerson, Orion and Vermeer String Quartets. Ms. Ezhokina is Resident Pianist at Icicle Creek Music Center, is Co-Artistic Director and teaches a full piano studio at the Music Center.

Sally Singer

Co-Artistic Director & Resident

Cellist Icicle Creek Piano Trio – cello

Sally Singer, cellist from the United Kingdom, has an extensive background in solo and chamber music performance. She has toured in Britain, France, Italy, Austria and Germany with ensembles and has played in the major concert halls of London, New York and Vienna.

As a soloist, Sally has appeared recently with the Danbury Symphony Orchestra, CT, the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra and the Pleven Philharmonic, Bulgaria, where the Polemics of Art Journal review referred to her interpretation of Elgar's cello concerto as "a performance of the highest caliber, which will leave life-long memories for every person in the audience." Ms. Singer was a top prizewinner in the Corpus Christi International Young Artists competition, won the John Ireland Chamber Music Competition and received two fellowships to the Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, MA, as well as many awards and scholarships from her institutions of study. She has appeared on British National Television several times and has performed and interviewed live for National Public Radio, Seattle, King FM, Koho Radio and KUT.

Ms. Singer was awarded First Class honors at the Royal Northern College of Music, has a Masters degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Doctorate in Musical Arts from the State University of New York, Stony Brook, where she studied cello performance with Timothy Eddy. She has given master classes in New York, Texas, Washington and Australia, and has a flourishing private studio. Formerly a member of the Vovka Ashkenazy and Klimt Piano Trios, Sally is now a member of the Icicle Creek Piano Trio. In addition to maintaining a busy performing schedule, Ms. Singer is Co-Artistic Director of the Icicle Creek Music Center and Co-Director of the Center's summer Chamber Music Institute.

Jennifer Caine

Assistant Director & Resident Violinist

Icicle Creek Piano Trio – violin

Jennifer Caine, violinist, was the first prize winner of the Yamaha Music Foundation of Europe Competition in 2004 and recipient of several awards including the Isolde Menges Prize, Polonsky Foundation Grant and Frank Huntington Beebe Grant for Musicians. She has performed in concerts throughout the U.S. and Europe, and at music festivals including the Olympic Music Festival, Soesterberg International Music Festival, Music@Menlo, and Norfolk, Yellow Barn and Sarasota Music Festivals. In the U.K., she performed extensively as a recitalist and chamber musician, and co-founded the Knox Piano Trio, which toured England and Northern Ireland. As an orchestral musician, she has appeared in concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra, Oxford Philomusica, and Seattle Symphony.

Ms. Caine is Resident Violinist at Icicle Creek Music Center and violinist of the Icicle Creek Piano Trio. Her recent collaborations in the Seattle area have included the odeonquartet, Seattle Chamber Players, and Sanssouci Chamber Ensemble, and she regularly performs on the Simple Measures and Second City Chamber Series. Jennifer is a graduate of Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music and Slavic Languages and Literatures, and holds Master of Music Degrees from the Royal College of Music and Oxford University. Her teachers and coaches have included Grigori Zhislin, Zinaida Gilels, Olga Yanovich, Robert Lipsett, Elisabeth Adkins, Robert Levin and Daniel Stepner.

 

 

 Margaret Ferguson: U.K. based African Soprano 

Margaret was born in Ghana, West Africa, with her great, great, great Grandfather, Dr Samuel Ferguson, being a Scottish surgeon who married a Ghanaian lady and settled in the country.  Coming from a musical family she first studied the piano and the cello, until finally making singing her career. While studying music at the University College of Education in Winneba, she was invited to sing at the Swiss Ambassador's residence. This lead to further invitations to entertain at a number of other Ambassadors' and High Commissioners' residences.  During this time she made various live and recorded programmes for television and radio, plus performing numerous oratorios and concerts in many places in West Africa. 

In 1993 she gave a solo performance for HRH Prince Edward. 

1994 saw Margaret awarded the "Chevening Scholarship" by the British Council to study opera at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester.

The invitation to study at the European Mozart Academy in Poland came in 1997.

Music In Hospitals asked her to present concerts for them in 1998.

Since then she has performed hundreds of concerts for the charity all over England, Wales and the Channel Islands. 

Margaret gained her LLCM in 1999. 

1999 was the year she received an invitation to sing for Wilmslow Opera

In 2000 she joined the North West Opera, which was later renamed City of Manchester Opera.

Margaret formed her own choir in Ghana called The Bi-Tonic Singers in 2000.When she is in England they are taught by John Annan, but she telephones most weeks during rehearsals and gives advice and help. When in Ghana she trains them directly and performs with them in many charitable concerts. These have been in various halls in Kumasi and Accra, including the National Theatre and the British Council. 

Her first invitation to sing solo with the English Concert Singers came in 2002, with further invitations in following years in London, Cornwall, Paris and Rottingdean.  

2002 saw the founding of the Commonwealth Games Choir for the opening ceremony of the games of which Margaret was a member. It was later renamed The Manchester Gospel Choir, of which she is now the Musical Director. They have sung in various venues, including live on television and radio.  

She is a founding member of Musicaria, which was formed in 2004. Musicaria presents concerts mainly in the Manchester area to raise money for various good causes.

An invitation to sing with the All Souls Orchestra came in 2004 with Prom Praise concerts in the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester and the Royal Festival Hall, London. Further concerts have followed in The Royal Albert Hall, London; St. Andrew's Hall, Norwich; the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool; the Waterfront Hall, Belfast; and the Millennium Forum, Londonderry; Venue Cymru, Llandudno; The Symphony Hall, Birmingham and the Victoria Hall, Stoke.

Her first appearance for Music at Sine Nomine in Cheshire, which raises money for The Children's Society, was in 2005 with Andrew Wilde. In 2008 and 2009 she was a nominee for the Best Individual Performer at the Buxton Festival Fringe. 

Her brother, Edwin, is an accomplished pianist and her sister, Hannah, designs and produces most of Margaret's performance dresses.

Margaret's voice teachers have been Ava June Cooper, Kerstin Meyer, Eva Blahova and David Sutton. She is at present with Sandra Dugdale and Rosemary Hill.


 

George Francois: Piano 

West African pianist George Francois has performed as a soloist and collaborator in Africa, Europe, and extensively in the United States. In New York City he has played at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, The Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum, Yamaha Piano Studios, and The Alfred Lerner Hall among other venues. He took the second prize in the 2002 Bartok/Prokofiev/Kabalevsky International piano competition, also winning the Kathryn G. Obenshain Award in the same competition, and he lectured in the music department at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville from 1999-2002, and currently lives in Harlem, maintaining a busy concert and teaching schedule. He is on faculty at Concordia Conservatory, Bronxville, NY, Manna House Workshops in East Harlem, and an Assistant to Professor Heasook Rhee at the Manhattan School of Music In August 2007 he performed 4 concerts in Ghana, West Africa, including a command performance for President John Kuffour of Ghana. In November of the same year he gave a recital for the Trinity Concert Series at St. Paul's Chapel in New York. In March of 2008, he  performed solo recitals in St. Lucia, and conducted Master-classes at the St. Lucia School of Music. The New York Amsterdam News described him as having a 'wondrous command of technique' with 'fire when called for, but also lovely moments of lyricism to savor'.  Mr Francois is managed by NIA Production Company, Inc.