The Nile Project performs at Middlebury College April 2

The Nile Project, photo Peter Stanley
The Nile Project, photo Peter Stanley

The Nile Project, a musical collaborative of East African artists drawn from the 11 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 8pm in Wilson Hall of the college’s McCullough Student Center.

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 and the community 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 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. 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 at 4:30pm 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, Wednesday, April 1 at 7pm at the Mahaney Center for the Arts. Introduced by Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty Andi Lloyd.

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 at 12:30pm at the Franklin Environmental Center

The Nile Project concert will take place on Thursday, April 2 at 8pm 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. McCullough is located at 14 Old Chapel Road in Middlebury. 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) 443-6433.