Wednesday, June 01, 2011


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Music Without Borders in Millennium Park kicks off on June 9 with Hanggai and Aurelio Martinez, then continues on June 16 with Dandana: A Celebration of Muslim Voices.


Two Acclaimed Vocalists Come to Millennium Park
Thursday, June 16 at 6:30 PM at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion

Coming to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park is Dandana: A Celebration Of Muslim Voices featuring Hakim (“The Lion of Egypt”) and the Alim Qasimov Ensemble of Azerbaijan on Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. as part of the Music Without Border series.  The concert will be a showcase of two very different types of Muslim singers, with Hakim’s mix of modern dance beats and native Egyptian music contrasted with the passion, devotion and incantation of Alim Qasimov’s sounds.

Returning for a sixth summer, the free Music Without Borders series features music spanning five continents—Europe, Asia, Africa and North and South America—with six groups making their Chicago debut at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium ParkThe series is presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, in partnership with the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture.  United Airlines is the Official Airline, the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park is the Official Hotel, and WBEZ 91.5 FM is a media sponsor of Music Without Borders.

Recognized worldwide as a leader of the movement to popularize music of the younger generation (jeel), Hakim is an innovator who has revolutionized the genre of sha’bi (indigenous Egyptian music).  His songs fuse traditional melodies with urban dance beats, and his lyrics chronicle daily life through the rhythm of street slang.  A major figure in the international music scene, Hakim has played to sell-out crowds throughout the world. 

Hakim was originally scheduled to perform in Chicago on the closing night of the World Music Festival in September, 2001, one week after September 11th.  He was not able to travel to the United States for the Festival, but did appear in a rescheduled “World Music Presents” date on February 14, 2002 at the Riviera Theatre—the last time he performed in Chicago. In Millennium Park, he will appear with a band of 16 musicians.

The evening opens with the six member Alim Qasimov Ensemble of Azerbaijan.  One of the foremost mugham singers of classical Azerbaijan song, Qasimov is a recipient of the International Music Council—UNESCO Music Prize in 1999, one of the highest accolades for music worldwide.  Accompanied by the daf (drums), balaban (woodwinds) and kamancha (strings), audiences will be transported by the sounds of his vocal technique along with his passion and devotion.  Qasimov has made many appearances with Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, recorded nine albums, three of which are mugham albums featuring his daughter, Fergana Qasimova, who will appear with him in Millennium Park.  Alim Qasimov made his Chicago debut in the World Music Festival in 2000.

This concert is supported by the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation Endowment, managed by Millennium Park Inc. Dandana: A Celebration of Muslim Voices is presented in collaboration with Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) and the Aga Khan Music Initiative, a program of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.  This marks IMAN’s second collaboration with Music Without Borders in Millennium Park.

For more information about all of the Music Without Borders concerts in Millennium Park, visit, call 312.742.1168, visit Millennium Park on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @Millennium_Park.

Future Music Without Borders concerts include:

Thursday, June 23 at  6:30pm 
RAM + Sexteto Tabala                                                               
Standing for the initials of its founder, the Haitian-American musician, Richard A. Morse, RAM champions the mizik rasin musical movement, a Haitian art form that combines Voodoo culture with rock and roll. Formed in 1990, RAM quickly became one of the most influential bands in Haiti, through hopeful music that addressed government corruption and other social ills. The band combines elements of rock, lyrics in Creole, French and English and Haitian rhythms, melodies and instruments. The group’s single "Ibo Lele (Dreams Come True)," is included on the soundtrack of the 1993 film “Philadelphia” starring Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. They make their Chicago debut in Millennium Park.

For over 70 years, Sexteto Tabala has been preserving Colombia’s afro Palenquero ancestral and cultural traditions and has made it now one of the most representative musical expressions of the black communities of Colombia. Their highly percussive music is a blend of Cuban son and Colombian Caribbean rhythms and includes drums, bongos, maracas, guiro, harpsichord, marimbula (native African bass) in addition to vocals. Its 76 year old lead singer, Rafael Cassiani was selected as one of the ten most important artists in Colombian culture by the country’s Ministry of Culture.  Sexteto Tabala make their Chicago debut in Millennium Park.

Thursday, June 30 at  6:30pm
Diogo Nogueira + Freshlyground
Thirty year old Diogo Nogueira descends from a noble lineage of samba. Born in Rio de Janeiro, the son of the renowned singer João Nogueira, Diogo grew up going to rodas de samba with his father, the communal gatherings where musicians and composers sing and improvise samba together, a habit that earned him respect and approval of the music’s bambas (samba legends). Today, the rising Brazilian star, Diogo Nogueira performs the samba-canção, a more melodic variation of the samba, full of romantic lyrics that wax poetic about love, music, soccer, and his endless infatuation with his native city. He makes his Chicago debut in Millennium Park.

Formed in 2002 with band members hailing from South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, Freshlyground seamlessly blends pop, folk, jazz, blues, and indie-rock with traditional South African beats, including kwela and African folk music.  With four celebrated albums, an MTV Award and a collaboration with Shakira on the 2010 World Cup song—“Waka Waka—This Time for Africa”, Freshlyground has established their place on the international music map.  They make their Chicago debut in Millennium Park.

Thursday, July 7 at  6:30pm
Rupa and the April Fishes + Baloji
Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Rupa and the April Fishes create music that defies easy categorization. Led by Rupa Marya, a young woman of Indian heritage, their music is a mixture of international music styles, including French chanson, Argentinean tango, Gypsy swing, American folk, Latin cumbias and Indian ragas, with lyrics sung in French, Spanish and English.  They made their Chicago debut at the World Music Festival in 2009.

The evening opens with the innovative Congo-born, Belgian-bred hip-hop wordsmith, BalojiHis debut release Hotel Impala was made for his mother in Congo, a gift and a message from a son who had been away for 25 years. On a personal quest for his roots and his future, Baloji decided to return to Kinshasa to make an African version of that first album. In Kinshasa Succursale, Baloji shows off a diversity of styles and unique vocal sounds—a mix of Congolese dance music (soukous), 60’s soul and the lyrical edge of Hip Hop’s pioneers.

Thursday, July 14 at 6:30pm
Sierra Maestra + Susheela Raman
Originally founded at the University of Havana in 1976, Sierra Maestra has spent the last 35 years revitalizing, reinventing, and preserving the Cuban son music tradition. Headed by Juan d’Marcos Gonzales, they were the first of the modern-era groups to play in the old-style son line-up. Their aim was to revive and re-explore this long forgotten Cuban music style of the 1920s.  Their revival of son with a modern twist was a sensation for the new generations of Cubans.  They return to Chicago for the first time in nearly ten years, following President Obama’s lift of the restrictions on travel to Cuba.

Susheela Raman is one of the most interesting musicians to emerge amongst the South Asian Diaspora, equally at home with South Indian Classical as with Jimi Hendrix and Fela Kuti, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Aretha Franklin. Born in London to Tamil parents, she has constantly pushed cultural barriers to find new and ancient connection points between India, England and beyond. As a composer, arranger and interpreter, she keeps her tamil heritage alive in her music—a mix of South Indian classical music crossed with jazz, folk and pop influences and makes her Chicago debut in Millennium Park as part of the Eye on India Festival.

Thursday, July 21 at 6:30pm
Yemen Blues + Etran Finatawa
Growing up in Israel to a Yemenite family, Ravid Kahalani quickly learned to appreciate the artistic undertones of his cultures’ traditional chants, then extended his influences in the areas of blues, West African soul and classical opera. Together with jazz bassist Omer Avital, he created Yemen Blues, a hybrid musical experience that combines strong Yemenite melodies with the world of blues, jazz and funk, an ultimate celebration of African grooves, pure happiness and deep emotional Yemenite singing. This event is supported by the Israeli Consulate of Chicago.

Niger’s Etran Finatawa’s hypnotic musical groove evokes the breathless heat and shimmering horizon of the Sahara. Literally meaning “stars of tradition,” the band includes musicians from two different tribes—the Wodaabe and Touareg nomads. Led by Touareg Alhousseini Mohamed Anivolla and the Wodaabe singers, Bammo Agonla and Bagui Bouga, they bring their laid back guitars, driving rhythms and compelling voices to the stage for a night of highly innovative sound and rich performances.  They made their Chicago debut at the World Music Festival in 2009.

Millennium Park
Millennium Park is located in the heart of downtown Chicago. It is bordered by Michigan Ave. to the west, Columbus Dr. to the east, Randolph St. to the north and Monroe St. to the south. Convenient parking is located in the Millennium Park Garage (entrance on Columbus at Monroe or Randolph) and at the Grant Park North and East Monroe Garages, all located within a short walking distance of Millennium Park. 

Millennium Park, managed and programmed by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, is an award-winning center for art, music, architecture and landscape design. The result of a unique partnership between the City of Chicago and the philanthropic community, the 24.5-acre park features the work of world-renowned architects, planners, artists and designers. Among Millennium Park’s prominent features are the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, the most sophisticated outdoor concert venue of its kind in the United States; the interactive Crown Fountain by Jaume Plensa; the contemporary Lurie Garden designed by the team of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, Piet Oudolf and Robert Israel; and Anish Kapoor’s hugely popular Cloud Gate sculpture.  Since its opening in July 2004, Millennium Park has welcomed more than 24 million people, making it one of the most popular destinations in Chicago.

Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), in partnership with the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, presents thousands of high-quality free festivals, exhibitions, performances and holiday celebrations in venues throughout the city each year. DCASE is dedicated to promoting an ongoing celebration of the arts in Chicago, supporting the people who create and sustain them, and marketing the city’s abundant cultural resources to a worldwide audience.

Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture
The Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture (COTC) is dedicated to promoting Chicago as a premier cultural destination to domestic and international leisure travelers, providing innovative visitor programs and services, and presenting free world-class public programs. COTC supports local artists through grants and other resources and creates vital opportunities for artists of all levels. For more information please visit


Please Note My New Email Address:

Jill Hurwitz
Millennium Park Communications Manager
Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture
78 E. Washington Street, 4th floor
Chicago, IL  60602
phone:  312.742.1149
fax: 312.742.2783