Estes Park News

March 12, 2004

Estes Park NEWS -- Adapted from article by Mary Ellen Garrett

Friday, March 12, 2004

"Singing In Baghdad" Comes To Estes Park, March 19

The Estes Park Patriots for Peace are sponsoring a very special program on Friday, March 19, called "Singing in Baghdad", with Cameron Powers and Kristina Sophia, the founders of "Musical Missions for Peace". This powerful and heartwarming show includes slides and stories from their recent travels in Middle-Eastern countries, and live music by these two talented musicians. The Estes Park Middle-Eastern dance troupe, Chandani and the Oasis Dancers, will also perform.

Cameron and Kristina founded "Musical Missions for Peace" as their own way to contribute to world peace. In the Arab World they are ambassadors with a message of common humanity, friendship, and peace. In America, they are a cultural bridge bringing back the messages of beauty, generosity, and hospitality from the people they have met.

They address questions like: "Are we hated now in the Arab World? Is it dangerous to travel there? What are the needs and dreams of average Middle-Eastern families? What does Arabic music sound like?" Their presentation breaks through stereotypes and paints a picture of these ancient cultures that few Americans are aware of.

These musicians have taken on a really remarkable project as their personal way to promote peace. They travel to Middle-Eastern countries, and meet people in the streets by setting up on street corners and singing songs in Arabic. People swarm around them to find out what these Americans are doing, and are amazed and delighted to meet people from our country who are there to visit with them, and who know something about their cultures. Soon, they are invited into people's homes and are able to share in their lives and traditional Middle-Eastern hospitality.

Then Cameron and Kristina come back to the U.S. and travel around, sharing what they've learned by giving presentations for churches and community groups. They have given over 75 shows in the U.S. in the past year. They just completed a tour in the South, and have bookings for the West coast, the mid-west, and the Northeast through next year.

Cameron and Kristina have visited Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, and the West Bank since 2000. They were singing on the streets of Baghdad just after U.S. troops arrived there last year, and so their presentation is titled "Singing in Baghdad".

Their program in Estes Park is part of a continuing educational series called "Building a Culture of Peace", sponsored by the Estes Park Patriots for Peace. Patriots' organizer Mary Ellen Garrett says: "We are thrilled to be able to bring Cameron and Kristina here to give their amazing and moving program. I have heard such fantastic things about their shows, and am so impressed with their personal commitment to promoting peace in this unique and creative way."

As a special addition for the evening, Chandani and the Oasis Dancers will perform an Algerian Scarf Dance, in 19th Century-style costumes. These are advanced dance students who have been studying Middle-Eastern dance from four to six years. The troupe is taught by Heidi Todd, who uses the stage name "Chandani." She has been teaching in Estes Park since 1996 and studying and performing Middle-Eastern dance since 1980.

"Singing in Baghdad" will be Friday, March 19, 7:00 p.m., at the Park Village Playhouse (the lower level, Other Side Restaurant). Tickets are $10.00 for adults, $5.00 for teens and students. No charge for children 12 and under. Advance tickets are available at Macdonald Book Shop. For more information, please call Mary Ellen Garrett, 586-2552.

Cameron Powers

In 1973 Cameron Powers lived in Greece and started playing the bouzouki. He then encountered Middle-Eastern music from an Iraqi oud player living in Boulder, Colorado. Initially trying the melodies on guitar, Cameron soon acquired an oud and in the ensuing years has become a master of the instrument and of Arab popular songs, a mastery recognized by Americans and Arabs alike.

Cameron has studied with Nasser Musa, George Lammam, Haig Manoukian, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Nabil Azzam and many others at the Middle-Eastern Music Camp in Mendocino, California, as well as with Simon Shaheen at the Arabic Music Retreat in Mt. Holyoke, Massachusetts. He has also played with numerous musicians whom he has met on travels in Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, and Morocco.

A resident of Boulder, Colorado, Cameron regularly performs Greek and Middle-Eastern music with his band, SHEREFE, which is respected as the prime influence of Middle-Eastern dance and music in the mountain states region.

Kristina Sophia

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest the central question governing Kristina's life has been "What are we doing here on the planet, anyway?" "I came here to sing!" is Kristina's definitive answer.

She has a BA in interarts/music from Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado.

In 2000 she met Cameron Powers and entered into the world of Middle-Eastern Music. She has plunged deeply into this study and feels a deep connection with the music and its people. She and Cameron have performed together in the U.S., Mexico and the Middle East. She is passionate about bringing people together across cultural boundaries through the power of music.