The Nile Project, a collective of musicians from the eleven countries that share the Nile River, performed at The Englert Theatre on March 11, 2015. The performance capped a weeklong residency at the University of Iowa and in the community.
The Nile Project: SUBLIME!! Percussion Heaven! Fabulous evening that got Iowa City up and rockin’ in the aisles! I loved seeing so many Sudanese kids having such a wonderful time. I hope they were amongst the ones who met the musicians at West High! My daughter experienced The Nile Project last summer in Zanzibar at the Busara Festival, so I knew I was in for a glorious evening. Thank you!!
Evalyn Van Allen-Shalash
I had been looking forward to this show since the season was announced. Everything I thought it would be. I liked the opportunity to hear the director talk in a pre-performance presentation. I liked the diversity of the audience. What a concept -- those who missed it, missed something they shouldn't have.
Enjoyed, gave great thoughts the Nile and water problems, similar to us.
They beat the hell out of the beat!
My whole family loved it. The Nile Project presented East African music which is rarely heard in the USA. The rhythms were wonderful, the dress of the band was beautiful, and the crowd involvement was thrilling. All-in-all a great show.
Dave, Denise and Mike Tiffany
On Wednesday, my family and I attended a concert by The Nile Project. We were deeply impressed with the show and the obvious talent and enthusiasm of the performers for their art. I would like to share a few observations we made during the show.
So often, women in musical groups are relegated to vocals - primary or back-up - or to an instrument. I was so pleased to see such a wonderfully talented and showy percussionist on the stage. The woman from Kenya, flashing a gorgeous smile, played her instruments like a dancer. I was fascinated by the ways she united the movements with the rhythmic pulse of her instruments, as if she and the drums were one creature. She was mesmerizing. When the audience applauded the group, she received the most wholehearted cheers of all the performers, and she acknowledged them with a gracious and brilliant smile. Such a wonderful performer.
All the performers were masters of their art, and so very passionate about their music. That was such a wonderful thing to see, in an era when popular American music depends more on synthesizers and samples, autotune and performers who dance to pre-recorded tapes. These voices were very real, very human, and so lovely to hear. I can't tell the difference between music that comes from the Sudan vs. music from Egypt, but all of it was gorgeous. Thank you to all the performers - you gave us all such a gift.
The audience for this performance was fantastic. In the second act, a number of women started to send ululations back to the performers. During some of the upbeat songs, those calls moved from the stage to the audience and back again, reinforcing the passion and pleasure of the music for everyone. It was such a testimony to the beauty of the performance, and I've never seen the like before. I would love to thank those people who responded so powerfully and joyfully to the music.
Many of the audience members also came forward to dance, something that should happen more often than it does. I noticed, among the dancers, one little girl of no more than 9 or 10. She had worn a beautiful dress reminiscent of an Egyptian costume - all white, with a metallic belt than hangs low. For the evening, someone had put a white flower in her hair, and she was so utterly charming and lovely. When she danced, her belt would fly out around her. She was grace and beauty and pride in herself all in one, and I'm so glad her family brought her to the show. Even though she was not a performer, she reminded us all of the power of music to make a very diverse group of people into one. Her smile lit the room.
My son, also, got up to dance. He's 14 now, and this hasn't happened since he was 3 or 4. It was his idea to go to the show - the group gave a small performance at his high school that week. He and a friend got up and moved to the music. Sure, they were doing exaggerated mock-dances, but they were dancing. The rhythm and melody lines were so powerful that they overcame the basic self-consciousness of these teen boys. I'm just so glad to see that.
So thank you to Hancher for inviting this amazing group to Iowa City. Thank you so much to all the performers - you were riveting. Your message about water use, about the necessity of coming together as human beings to address water issues, and the beauty of the cultures you all represent, all these things were heard. I hope to see you again.
This was a great event and they even managed the cell phone/ipad issues very effectively. It was a nice change from some of our previous experiences this year. Thank you.