Greetings, Modern Drummer readers! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. I wanted to mention a few words about a wonderful experience I had recently.
I was asked by ShareTheMic and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to go to Egypt with my band Monkfish as a Jazz Cultural Ambassador for the U.S. State Department. The group went over to perform jazz and other American styles of music for a series of concerts. Monkfish performed at several amazing venues in different cities around the country, including Median Abu Al Haggag (Luxor Temple), the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Markaz El Ebda (Alexandria Center Of Arts), and Qubet Al Ghuri in Cairo.
As the musical director, I was in charge of the collaboration between several respected groups, including El Toboul Al Nubia and others from the various cities that we were visiting. Our goal was to fuse American and Egyptian styles, creating a true blend of the best that each culture has to offer.
While touring, Monkfish was also blessed to participate in several clinics and workshops, including one at an English-language school, Amideast, as well as at a children’s hospital called Health And Hope Oasis in Wadi El Natrun. HHO is a very special place that cares for children with cancer and provides homes for their families. Volunteers plant and nurture organic crops to help fight the children’s illnesses through nutrition. Tim Reyes, Dan Paccione, diplomat Mike Hankey, and I helped dig and build a pathway during our visit.
The ninety-minute interactive workshops on jazz included a description of each performer’s background and instrument, and they integrated participants into the music via song and demonstration. We tried to expose the youth to American culture, music, and of course our friendship. This experience far exceeded my expectations, and its effects will last well into the future. Smiles were plentiful!
Another wonderful experience we were able to have was to make a live appearance on the Naharaka Siad (Lovely Morning) TV program. We were interviewed and got to perform several songs. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, we also appeared on the live, hour-long Middle East Radio show Sharq Al-Owsat (The Western Street), where we performed many songs and were interviewed.
The motivation behind this tour was to show the U.S.’s support and unity for the rebirth of Egypt. This effort is key for the State Department to promote positive images of the region and will be used by the various tourism boards and nonprofits to promote harmony and the people, culture, and sights of the region. The hope is to dispel any incorrect views the world may have of the region.
Thanks go out to Evans drumheads! The swag that Evans/D’Addario provided me for the Egypt workshops was a great asset in motivating the normally reserved students to ask questions and interact with my band during the workshops performed there—a thousand thank-yous to Rick Drumm, Marco Soccoli, and Steve Lobmeier for that! And thanks to my other endorsing companies, Evans drumheads, Vic Firth drumsticks, Sabian cymbals, Brady snare drums, Audix microphones, MOTU electronics, KickPort, Cympad, and RhythmTech percussion.
For more on Chris DeRosa and the projects he discusses in this blog, go to www.facebook.com/ChrisDeRosaFanPage, www.facebook.com/monkfishband, www.amideast.org/egypt, and www.hhoasis.org. To view clips of the Egypt performances, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSl4UMqZTZ4&feature=related. Other related videos are available there as well.