Ahmed Alabaca was raised in San Bernardino CA, and began composing and playing the piano at age 6, finding an escape and comfort in the music. Ahmed moved to New York in 2006 and readily adjusted to the life of a struggling artist, buying a keyboard before he bought a bed. For a time, all he did was compose and work, scoring several plays and an original musical.
Ahmed earned his B.A. in Music from Hunter College, and took classes at Juilliard, and UCLA extension. Ahmed began deeply exploring scoring while collaborating on original theater projects, using his music as part of the performance “text”, exploring how to make music a vital and necessary part of the artistic whole as opposed to an unnecessary element superimposed onto the production. Working closely with the director and playwrights, Ahmed seamlessly wove his compositions into the fabric of the performance, irrevocable changing the whole while rendering it more poignant and relatable to the audience. Now living in Los Angeles, Ahmed has scored several indie films, commercials, recorded two EP’s and various chamber and concert works.
Elizabeth A. Baker
Celebrated for her “terrifying dynamic range,” cleanliness of sound, as well as unique sensitivity and ability to sculpt her performance for the acoustics of a space, Elizabeth A. Baker is a dramatic performer with an honest, near psychic connection to music, which resounds with audiences of all ages and musical backgrounds.
As a creator, her understanding of sonic space from organic intuition and studies in music production, pair with a unique eclectic voice, making for a spatial and auditory experience of music. Eschewing the collection of traditional titles that describe single elements of her body of work, Elizabeth refers to herself as a “New Renaissance Artist” that embraces a constant stream of change and rebirth in practice, which expands into a variety of media, chiefly an exploration of how sonic and spatial worlds can be manipulated to personify a variety of philosophies and principles both tangible as well as intangible.
Elizabeth has received considerable recognition from press as well as scholars, for her innovative conceptual compositions and commitment to inclusive programming. In addition to studies of her work, Elizabeth has been awarded several fellowships, grants, and residencies to further her artistic endeavors. An active advocate for the arts she founded The New Music Conflagration, Inc., a Florida-based nonprofit dedicated to furthering the work of contemporary musicians and composers; in addition in 2016 she established the Florida International Toy Piano Festival, to create a platform for serious toy piano concert works. Elizabeth is also, Musical Director for RogueDance, an active member of the St. Petersburg Dance Alliance, and one half of the new renaissance Baker-Barganier Duo. She is the author of the world’s first comprehensive toy piano method book as well as a mixed media book about the experiences of being a young artist in the modern world. Elizabeth is an official Schoenhut Toy Piano Artist, and endorsed by Source Audio LLC due to her extensive work with interactive electronics that mold movement works into sonic compositions.
Jasmine Arielle Barnes is a promising young composer/vocalist who has performed and has had her music performed all over the world. Her most recent performance of her choral arrangement of “Wade in the Water” was during the 2017 Glimmerglass Festival, where she also performed as an Artist.
Her upcoming performances include a short piece entitled “The Mind” which will be performed by Baltimore chamber orchestra Symphony No.1 directed by Jordan Randall Thompson. She is a multifaceted composer who embraces any writing style of music using a variety of instrumentation and specializes in writing for the voice. She has had the privilege of working with the Morgan State University Choir, who has performed her music in three of the seven continents and all over the United States.
She holds her Bachelor of Arts in Music from Morgan State University in Baltimore Maryland and is in pursuit of her Masters Degree as a Composition student studying under Dr.James Lee III. She holds the esteemed pleasure of being a Graduate Teaching
Assistant teaching Music Theory and Aural Skills to students of Morgan State University. She is a proud member of Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity Inc. founded in 1903, an organization to world class singers, composers, conductors, and more acclaimed music career holders.
Brittney Boykin (B.E. Boykin) is a native of Alexandria, Virginia and comes from a musical family. Ms. Boykin pursued her classical piano studies at Spelman College under the leadership of Dr. Rachel Chung. During her time at Spelman, Ms. Boykin was the student accompanist for the Spelman College Glee Club, led by Dr. Kevin Johnson, for all 4 years. While being an active music student in the music department, she also attended classes to pursue her interest in composition. These classes challenged her musical imagination, and she began to compose and arrange a number of choral compositions. Her compositions quickly became popular, including her arrangement of Go Down, Moses and a setting of Ave Maria.
After graduating Spelman College in 2011 with a B.A. in Music, Ms. Boykin continued her studies at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, New Jersey. She continued to compose music during her time at Westminster, and was awarded the R and R Young Composition Prize just a few months shy of graduating. In May of 2013, Ms. Boykin graduated from Westminster Choir College with a M.M. in Sacred Music with a concentration in choral studies.Ms. Boykin currently serves as a faculty member of the Spelman College Music Department. Her most recent composition, We Sing as One,was commissioned to celebrate Spelman Colleges 133rd Anniversary of its founding at the 2014 Founders Day Convocation. Ms. Boykin also serves in a number of different music ministries throughout the metropolitan Atlanta area.
The creative output of Anthony R.Green (composer, performer, social justice) includes musical and visual creations, interpretations of original works or works in the repertoire, collaborations, educational outreach, and more. Behind all of his artistic endeavors are the ideals of equality and freedom, which manifest themselves in diverse ways in a composition, a performance, a collaboration, or social justice work.
As a composer, his work has been presented in over 20 countries by such notable soloists and ensembles as Gabriela Díaz, Wendy Richman, Dame Evelyn Glennie, ALEA III, Sound Energy, Transient Canvas, The Fidelio Trio, Ossia New Music Ensemble, and Alarm Will Sound, to name a few. His work has been recognized by the Argosy Foundation, Meet the Composer, ASCAP, and others, and has been featured in festivals such as the Grachten Festival (Amsterdam, the Netherlands), Gaudeamus Music Week (Utrecht, the Netherlands), and the American Composers Alliance Summer Festival (New York City), among others. He has also been a resident artist at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts (Nebraska City, NE), the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (Amherst, VA), Space/Time at Cove Park (Scotland), the Visby International Centre for Composers (Sweden), Escape to Create (Seaside, FL), and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Omaha, NE) where he participated in the Arts, Empathy, Ethos residency program specifically targeted towards social justice artists. As a performer (piano, improvisation [voice, koto], conductor), he has appeared at venues across the US, Cyprus, France, the Netherlands, the UK, and South Korea. For performances, he has worked with numerous student and emerging composers, as well as established composers such as David Liptak, Ofer Ben-Amots, Steve Reich, and George Crumb. Green’s most important social justice work has been with Castle of our Skins (COOS), where he is associate artistic director, com- poser-in-residence, and pianist. COOS is a concert and education series organization dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music. With COOS, he has performed, composed, and lectured about the life and music of many Black composers.
Jens Ibsen, composer/vocalist, is a tenor and trained opera singer whose vocal talents have led him to performances from Dubai to Shanghai, with stops along the way on German television and at Carnegie Hall and the UN. Jens was the principal soloist and first African-born member of the world-renowned Vienna Boys Choir. He completed his B.A in Music Composition under Dr. Lincoln Hanks while studying voice under Dr. Louise Lofquist. At Pepperdine, Jens was one of the three Pickford Composers chosen to write music for silent film for the Up Against the Screen project through the Mary Pickford Foundation. This entailed writing over 20 minutes of music for chamber ensemble at a live screening of the film A Little Princess.
He will be beginning his M.M. in Music Composition in the fall at the Mannes School of Music under Missy Mazzoli.
Born in Accra, Ghana to a Ghanaian mother and an American father (of Danish descent), Jens’ works are primarily influenced by the music of his multi-racial childhood: elements of West African drumming, classic vocal jazz, as well as his longtime passion for music of the Middle East and South Asia, have all found their voices in his style. His repertoire spans vocal and choral music, chamber music, and orchestral works. His vision is to create music that is ecumenical, perennial, and accessible in a post- modern idiom. He is also a member of Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society.
Blasio Kavuma is a composer, arranger and curator based in London. He studied at Bristol University under Michael Ellison, receiving a MA in composition. He is now an active collaborator and curator over numerous platforms, including film, visual art and performance art. His work has been performed by ensembles and soloists in the U.K. and Japan, and has had arrangements published by Zig-Zag education. He received the Francis Chagrin award for his curatorial and collaborative work in 2016, and is currently one of the composers selected for Sound&Music’s Pathways program; a mentoring and coaching program culminating in a residency with a professional dance company. Drawing equally from classical and popular musical traditions, he has developed a sound-world full of rhythmic vitality and stylistic versatility, and is committed to championing forward-thinking music that is accessible to a wide audience.
A native of Selma, Alabama, Colin Lett is a graduate of Morgan State University with a BA in Vocal Music. As an undergraduate, he had four arrangements published as part of the African American Church Music Series from GIA Publications, Inc. After acknowledging God's call upon his life, Colin was licensed to preach at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Selma, Alabama. He is conductor of the Colin Lett Chorale based out of Baltimore, Maryland. He is currently attending the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia. He is also a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America, Inc.
Carlos Simon is a versatile composer and arranger that combines the influences of jazz, gospel, and neo-romanticism.
His most recent accolades include the Underwood Emerging Composer Commission from the American Composers Orchestra , the winner of the prestigious Marvin Hamlisch Film Scoring Award in 2015 and the Presser Award from the Theodore Presser Foundation. In the same year, he served as the young composer-in-residence with the Detroit Chamber String and Winds
for the 2015-2016 season.Carlos Simon is a member of many music organizations including ASCAP, where he was honored as “Composers to Watch” in 2015. He is also a member of Phi Mu Alpha Music Sinfonia Fraternity (honorary member), National Association of Negro Musicians, Society of Composers International, and Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honor Society. His compositions have been published by the Gregorian Institute of America (GIA) Publications and Hal Leonard Publications.
Serving as music director and keyboardist for GRAMMY Award winner Jennifer Holliday, Simon has performed with the Boston Pops Symphony, Jackson Symphony, and the St. Louis Symphony. Mr. Simon has toured internationally with soul Grammy nominated artist, Angie Stone, where he performed throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia.
Mr. Simon holds degrees from the University of Michigan, Georgia State University and More- house College. He currently serves on the faculty at Spelman College teaching courses in music technology.
Del’Shawn Taylor has performed on stages nationally and internationally. He has won awards for his vocal prowess such as the Grand Prize in the Metropolitan International Music Festival, The American Prize in Voice, the Chicago Musical Theatre Award, second place in the LaPorte Symphony Orchestra’s Hoosier Star Competition, and third place in the world at the International Musical Eisteddfod’s International Voice of Musical Theatre Award. His upcoming solo engagements include recitals in California, Australia, Wales and a debut at Lincoln Center in February 2018. Del’Shawn has narrated with the South Bend Symphony, performed with the CBA Symphony, LaPorte Symphony Orchestra, the South Bend Youth Symphony, and the National Accordion Symphony Orchestra. As the musical director for the 2018 Gathering
of Faiths, a break off of Parliament of World Religions sessions, he will be creating the first Global Book of Songs. It will include hymns and music from various religions and newly transcribed religious music.
He is busy as a budding composer with new commissions for choirs, chamber ensembles, and instrumentalists. He is currently film scoring a new short film titled, And Then I Run. His work as a composer has garnered the attention of Broadway composers such as Jason Robert Brown. He is working on a musical adaptation of the award winning book, “Stars in the Sky,” about the first African American flight attendants, a musical adaptation of the story of the Pied Piper, and preparing another musical based on the life of Charles Gordone, the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, with renowned com- poser, Dr. Marvin Curtis.
Joel Thompson (b.1988) is an Atlanta composer, pianist, conductor, and educator. His latest work, Seven Last Words of the Unarmed for TTBB chorus,strings, and piano, was premiered November 2015 by the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club under the direction of Dr. Eugene Rogers. Currently teaching at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta, Thompson also served as Director of Choral Studies and Assistant Professor of Music at Andrew College from 2013-2015. Thompson is a proud Emory alum, graduating with a B.A. in Music in 2010, and an M.M. in Choral Conducting in 2013. His teachers include Eric Nelson, William Ransom, Laura Gordy, Richard Prior, John Anthony Lennon, Kevin Puts, Robert Aldridge, and Scott Stewart.
Justine began studying piano at age of 4 with Michel Denis. She entered the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris in 1999 in the class of Ms. Victoria Melki, where she obtained the “Diplome study with Prof. Karl-Heinz Kämmerling, and from 2007 with Prof. Pavel Gililov. In 2012, she graduated with a master’s degree with honors. Supérieur d’Exécution" in 2002. In 2004 she entered the Mozarteum University in Salzburg to study with Prof. Karl-Heinz Kämmerling, and from 2007 with Prof. Pavel Gililov. In 2012, she graduated with a master’s degree with honors.
Justine has performed as soloist with orchestra, chamber music groups and recitals all over Europe and America. She recorded the 2nd concerto Milosz Magin in 2003 for the CD label “Acte Préalable”. She has collaborated with many orchestras and ensembles as a soloist or as a guest pianist: Ensemble Musicatreize, Pop Symphony Orchestra from Kiev, Orchestre Regional de Cannes, Real Orquesta Sinfonica de Sevilla and Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias under the baton of Rossen Milanov. Apart of her soloist career, she has collaborated with many of her colleagues, giving chamber music concerts as duo or trio; she has also worked as an accompanist and singer coach at the summer master classes AAMA (Salzburg) and FAVA (Périgord, France). In 2013 and 2014 she was musical director ar the festival Oper im Park in Sankt Anton am Arlberg (Austria). As accompanist she has collaborated with singers such as Joan Pons, Luca Lombardo, William Lewis or Ainhoa Arteta.
Justine Verdier is also a composer. She collaborates with the spanish tenor Carlos Llabrés and they already created several of their compositions together: GRADIVA, opera premiered in Paris in November 2016 (followed by 5 performances during the 2016/17 season in Paris and Province), several works of sacred music (Ave Maria, Agnus Dei, Panis Angelicus, Lord's Prayer...) and works for piano. They are both founders of the Arts & Music Company which is planning various concerts, cultural performances and actions in France and abroad.
Jonathan Kofi Vordzorgbe was born in Dzodze, in the Volta region of Ghana on June 4, 1993 into a musical family. His grandfather and father were distinguished music teachers in Togo and around the southern Volta region. He showed an early interest in music, and began his first informal piano lessons under his father’s tutelage at age 8. At age 10, he enrolled at the Children’s Christian Storehouse, a mu- sic conservatory in Accra established by the Dr Ruth B. Stokes, who had moved to Ghana from the US to provide music education and mentorship to young, promising children. Under her mentorship, he matured in his musicianship, began writing his first compositions, and had the opportunity to tour the US with other promising children from Ghana.
Among the various opportunities Dr Stokes made available, the most momentous turned out to be an invitation to perform alongside famed musicians like Stevie Wonder at a concert in March 2007 to celebrate Ghana’s 50th Anniversary of Independence. After the concert, he received an offer from Dr Amos C Brown, pastor of Third Baptist Church in San Francisco, who was present, to continue his music and high school education in San Francisco. Later that summer, he traveled to San Francisco with Dr Stokes, and auditioned at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He subsequently enrolled at the conservatory and at Stuart Hall High School in the fall of 2007, both on full scholarships.
At SFCM, he studied piano under Anna-Marie McCarthy, and composition under Arkadi Serper. Under their guidance, he performed and presented compositions at various recitals at the conservatory, and at other distinguished events like the 2009 Gala for African Businesses Washington DC. He also performed with the Ghana National Symphony Orchestra in a fundraising concert in 2008. After graduating from the conservatory and high school in 2011, he matriculated into Morehouse College, where he pursued a B.A in Music degree on a pre-medicine track.
At Morehouse College, he studied piano under Dr William Ethridge, and composition under Dr Robert Tanner, and immensely refined his pianism and musician- ship. He enjoyed the privilege of studying under other distinguished musicians and composers like Dr. David Morrow and Dr. Uzee Brown. During his college career, he composed a large volume of original works and significantly expanded his piano repertoire. He also won 1st place in the 2014 James A. Hefner HBCU Annual Piano Competition held in Nashville, TN. After graduating from college, he returned to Ghana. His compositions include four symphonies, nine piano sonatas, three piano concerti, a violin concerto, and various small piano works. He is currently working on a compilation of piano preludes, which figure African themes and tonalities blended with Western pianism.
As a conductor, composer and educator, Brandon Waddles has enjoyed a multifaceted career spanning a multitude of genres from classical to gospel to musical theatre. Brandon, a Detroit native, holds degrees from Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA) and Westminster Choir College of Rider University (Princeton, NJ). He most recently served on the Conducting and Sacred Music faculty at Westminster as conductor of the famed Westminster Jubilee Singers.
Brandon’s choral compositions and arrangements have been published with both GIA and Mark Foster, and have been performed by choral ensembles around the world, including the Morehouse College and University of Michigan Glee Clubs, Westminster Choir, Brigham Young University Singers and the Slovenian Philharmonic Choir. In addition to these, he has worked as a transcriber of gospel songs written by some of gospel music’s most legendary writers including Charles Nicks, Thomas Whitfield and Margaret Douroux for numerous GIA projects.
Brandon has served as music director and/or pianist for several theatrical productions including: Legally Blonde, Hairspray, Shrek: The Musical, West Side Story, Pippin and Little Women.
In addition, Brandon has also served on various music ministries throughout the country, including Hartford Memorial Baptist Church (Detroit, MI), the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church (Atlanta, GA), and Abyssinian Baptist Church (Harlem, New York City, NY), to name a few. He most recently served as Composer-in-Residence at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton, as well as on the music ministry at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens (Somerset, NJ).
Brandon has been blessed to work with a diverse array of musicians including Dalton Baldwin, Martin Katz, Angela Brown, George Shirley, Donnie Ray Albert, Vinson Cole, Lauren Flannigan, Fred Hammond, Kathy Taylor and Chrystal Rucker. He has also, on several occasions, been called on as a lecturer on the subjects of the evolution of Black gospel music and the Negro spiritual.
Brandon holds professional memberships with both the American Choral Directors Association and the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc., serving on the National Board of Directors for the latter.
Brandon is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Music Education with a Choral Conducting emphasis at Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL).
The music of Evan Williams draws from a wide range of influences, both musical and cultural. His work reflects inspirations from the Baroque, Romanticism, Modernism, Post-Minimalism, contemporary popular music, and everything in between. Williams’ music has been performed across the country and internationally in Canada, Italy, and Switzerland. His work has been performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble, Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, Fifth House Ensemble, the Verb Ballets, and at festivals such as Fresh Inc, N_SEME, SEAMUS, Studio 300, the Electroacoustic Barn Dance, the New York City Electronic Music Festival, and the Midwest Composers Symposium. He has been commissioned by notable performers and ensembles including the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Lawrence University Symphony Orchestra, the V3NTO Brass Trio, the Urban Playground Chamber Orchestra, Patchwork Duo, and a consortium led by Andy Hall for his baritone saxophone concerto Wild Velvet. He has also received readings by the JACK Quartet, Oasis Saxophone Quartet, and Toledo Symphony Orchestra, among others. His work can be found on recordings by The Namaste Ensemble's "No Borders Quartet" and Levels.