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Cassandra Shore (Jawaahir Artistic Director) is recognized as one of the world’s foremost performers and choreographers of Middle Eastern dance. With an early background in Wigman and Graham styles of modern dance, Cassandra embraced Middle Eastern dance in the early 1970s as a student of San Francisco’s Jamila Salimpour. From the outset, her artistic intensity, her mastery of the form’s technical complexity, and her lyrical grace and musicality set her apart from other artists. Since then, she has studied and performed with some of the world’s leading Middle Eastern artists. She has been honored twice as the only non-Arab dancer to perform at the annual Arabic festival, Maharajan al-Fan, in New York City; and Palestinian oud superstar Simon Shaheen calls her his “choreographer of choice.” Cassandra’s background in modern dance, with a flavoring of Jazz and Flamenco, drove her to explore ways to move Middle Eastern dance “beyond the museum,” and to create original, theatrically-inspired choreography that blends traditional and contemporary Middle Eastern forms. Inspired and encouraged when she saw other Arab artists moving in this direction, Cassandra founded Jawaahir Dance Company in 1989 as a way to showcase this exciting work as a vibrant living art form.

Katrina Vandenberg

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Katrina Vandenberg is the author of Atlas and co-author of the chapbook, On Marriage. Her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in The Southern Review, The American Scholar, Orion, Post Road, Poets and Writers, and other magazines. She has received fellowships from the McKnight, Bush, and Fulbright Foundations; been a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference; and held residencies at the Amy Clampitt House, the Poetry Center of Chicago, and the MacDowell Colony. She teaches in The Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and lives four blocks from campus with her husband, novelist John Reimringer, and their daughter Anna.

Mila Vocal Ensemble

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Mila Vocal Ensemble illuminates the folk traditions of Eastern Europe with an evening of music and explanation. From the incandescence of Bulgarian music to the sparkle of Ukrainian melodies to the soft glow of Georgian harmonies, the same night sky has inspired songs passed down through generations.

Wolfgang Rübsam

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Wolfgang Rübsam studied under Helmut Walcha and Marie-Claire Alain, and in the United States with Robert T. Anderson. Upon winning the 1973 Grand Prix de Chartres in Interpretation, he became professor of Church Music and Organ at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. During this 23-year tenure, he also served as university organist of the University of Chicago at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. Wolfgang Rübsam is internationally known through over a hundred highly acclaimed recordings of organ repertoire from the baroque and romantic periods, as well as his Naxos Bach recordings on the modern piano. He gives frequent recitals and master classes in the United States and Europe and has served on the juries of the most prestigious international competitions. Wolfgang Rübsam has lived in the United States since his retirement from teaching in 2011 and is a regular composer for Schott Music International.

Yuval Ron

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Yuval Ron is an internationally renowned World Music artist, composer, educator, peace activist and record producer. Graduating Cum Laude as a Film Scoring Major at Berklee College of Music in Boston, he has continuously researched various ethnic musical traditions and spiritual paths worldwide. Among his many honors, he composed the songs and score for the Oscar winning film West Bank Story in 2007, was the featured artist in the Gala Concert for the Dalai Lama's initiative Seeds of Compassion in the Seattle Opera Hall in 2008, and has collaborated with the Sufi leader Pir Zia Inayat Khan since 2006. His awards include the Los Angeles Treasures Award in 2004 and prestigious grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, American Composers Forum, California Council for the Humanities and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Under his leadership, the internationally renowned music and dance group, The Yuval Ron Ensemble, has been actively involved in creating musical bridges between people of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths and has been featured on CNN, National Geographic, and in the international press and media. Yuval Ron has produced field recordings in the Sinai Desert with the Bedouins, archival preservation recordings of the sacred Yemenite, Moroccan and Andalusian Jewish traditions, and the album of master musician Omar Faruk Tekbilek titled, One Truth - A Window into the Divine Passion and Poetry of Sufism.

His TV and films scores includes the PBS/Nova special, Breaking the Maya Code, Proteus, Oliver Twist, The Spiral Staircase, Golda's Balcony and Road to Victory and he has collaborated with numerous film directors including, Jeremy Kagan, Ari Sandel, David Lebrun. He received commissions from various international choreographers including Daniel Ezralow (American Repertory Ballet), Ashley Roland (ISO dance company), Oguri (Renzoku Dance Company) and Zen priest and visual artist Hirokazu Kosaka. His original scores for theater productions include Shakespeare's The Tempest, Yeats' Amer's Jealousy and Becket's Casscando.

Yuval Ron has also collaborated with neuroscientists Mark Waldman, Andrew Newburg and others to explore the connection between sound and the brain and has received commissions from Metta Mindfulness Music to create music for medical and healing use in clinics and treatments centers.

Yuval is a noted lecturer and has been invited to speak at numerous schools including: Yale, John Hopkins University, UCLA, Middlebury College, Brandeis University, MIT, Berklee College of Music, University of Chicago, Pittsburgh University, Texas University in Austin, UCSD, Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film School and many others. Yuval Ron has been on the faculty of Esalen Institute since 2009, is an affiliated artist with the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity, and a "Guiding Voice" for Seven Pillars - House of Wisdom.

Yuval is the author of Divine Attunement: Music as a Path to Wisdom published by Oracle Institute Press.

To listen to the music of Yuval Ron and to find more information about his recordings, books, talks, master-classes, workshops and concerts, please visit: