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Liza Sacheli

The Nile Project to Perform at Middlebury College April 2

April 13, 2015

Concert Will Cap a Four Day Residency Exploring Environmental and Cultural Issues of the Nile River Basin through Music


Middlebury, VT—The Nile Project, a musical collaborative of East African artists drawn from the eleven countries touching the world’s longest river, will visit the Middlebury College community March 30 through April 3. The project uses music to raise awareness for the Nile basin’s sustainability challenges. During four days of residency activities including participatory workshops, keynote talks, and class visits, the Nile Project artists will explore a variety of cultural, political, and environmental issues, culminating in a high-energy, public concert on Thursday, April 2 at 8:00 PM in Wilson Hall of the college’s McCullough Student Center.

Nile Project artists, photo Ahmed Hayman

Inspired by Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project, Egyptian ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis and Ethiopian American singer Meklit Hadero conceived the Nile Project in 2011. Their mission was to educate, inspire, and empower the citizens of the Nile basin to foster the sustainability of the river’s ecosystem through musical collaboration. The project’s model integrates programs in music, education, dialogue, leadership, and innovation to engage citizens and students across disciplines and geographies. The concert experience, for example, brings together an international group of musicians (from Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda, and the U.S.) to inspire cultural curiosity, highlight regional connections, and showcase the potential of trans-boundary cooperation. Participatory workshops and cross-cultural dialogues will provide Middlebury students with unique intellectual experiences, deepening their understanding of the Nile ecosystem. The Nile Fellowship and Nile Prize programs incentivize students to apply their education and training toward mobilizing their peers and pioneering innovative solutions to the Nile Basin’s complex and interrelated challenges.

The Nile Project, photo by Peter Stanley

The Nile Project has garnered significant media attention along its journey toward this tour. The group’s first recording, Aswan, was named one of National Public Radio (NPR)’s Top Must-Hear International albums of 2013. NPR said “the results are joyous and even raucous… You can hear just how much fun the crowd is having—and how tight the band is, even as their instrumental multitudes adeptly combine everything from indigenous instruments like the Ugandan adungu lyre to saxophone and bass.” NPR followed up on that review with a broadcast story “Producing Harmony in a Divided Region” in September 2014. When the Nile Project made its January 2015 premiere at New York City’s Globalfest, The New York Times hailed the group as “a committed, euphoric international coalition.”

The Nile Project’s free, public residency activities at Middlebury will include:

  • Music Master Class with Dance, presented by musicians from The Nile Project
    Tuesday, March 31, 2015 at 4:30 P.M. at the Mahaney Center for the Arts
  • Nile Project Keynote: Musical Collaboration and Water Cooperation, presented by ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis, President of the Nile Project.  Introduced by Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty Andi Lloyd.
    Wednesday, April 1, 2015 at 7:00 P.M. at the Mahaney Center for the Arts

  • Lecture: Civic Engagement and the Management of Water Resources, presented by Nile Project ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis, Middlebury Professor of Geology and Environmental Studies Pete Ryan, and Mike Winslow of the Lake Champlain Committee
    Thursday, April 2, 2015 at 12:30 P.M. at the Franklin Environmental Center

NEFA logo

Nile basin map

All of the Nile Project activities, plus earlier lead up events by African music star Herbert Kinobe and ethnomusicologist Sylvia Nannyonga-Tamusuza, are supported by the Expeditions program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from the six New England state arts agencies. Campus collaborators include the Performing Arts Series, the Arts Council, the Mahaney Center for the Arts, the Environmental Studies Program, the African Studies Program, the Program in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, the Dance Program, and the Department of Music.

The Nile Project concert will take place on Thursday, April 2, 2015, at 8:00 P.M., at Middlebury College’s McCullough Student Center, in Wilson Hall. Audience members are encouraged to come ready to dance, though seating will also be available. A free reception will follow the concert in Crossroads Cafe, adjacent to the performance space. McCullough is located at 14 Old Chapel Road in Middlebury, stretching between Route 30 south and Route 125 west, on the campus of Middlebury College. Free parking is available. Tickets are $25 for the general public; $20 for Middlebury College faculty, staff, alumni, emeriti, and other ID card holders; and $6 for Middlebury College students.

For more information, call (802) 443-MIDD (6433) or go to or

Photo credits:

top: The Nile Project, photo Peter Stanley

second from top: The Nile Project, photo Ahmed Hayman

third from top: The Nile Project, photo Matjaz Kacicnik

Mahaney Arts Center
Middlebury College
South Main St./Route 30 South
72 Porter Field Rd.
Middlebury, VT 05753
(802) 443-3168 phone
(802) 443-2834 fax