THE SAFFRON CARAVAN TRIO
Where Jazz Harmonica and Piano meets the Persian Santour Spiced with Afro-Caribbean Percussion
Kiu Haghighi, Santour (Iran)
Jean Christophe Leroy, Percussion/Vocals (United States/Canada)
Howard Levy, Piano and Harmonica (United States)
Howard Levy- Musical Director / Producer
Wendy Sternberg, MD – Founder & Executive Director
Saffron Caravan artists create novel musical compositions and perform together under the aegis of Genesis at the Crossroads. They demonstrate that the arts can be used to build sustainable bridges between cultures in conflict. Genesis at the Crossroads furthers the impact of Saffron Caravan’s performances through arts-education master classes, speaking engagements, community partnerships, cross-cultural exchanges and humanitarian work.
KIU HAGHIGHI, Santour (Iran)
Kiu Haghighi began his study of the Santour at the age of ten. As a teenager he performed on the radio station of Mashad, Iran and the National Iranian Radio in Tehran. At nineteen he was invited to join the Iranian Ministry of Education and Art where he performed as the featured soloist in the Academy Orchestra and performed regularly on National Iranian Television. Kiu was an instructor at the Ministry of Education and Art until 1965, when he left Iran for study in the United States. A master of all the twelve melody types used in Iranian classical improvisation, Kiu has expanded the technical possibilities of the santur with unusual speed in the movement of the mallets (mezrab,) novel musical ornamentation and parallel melodies with unique dissonances.
JEAN-CHRISTOPHE LEROY, Percussion/Drums (United States/Canada)
Jean-Christophe Leroy is a percussionist who specializes in West African, Brazilian and Afro-Caribbean styles. He has been a freelance performer and educator since 1992 in Canada, the U.S. and Ecuador. His experience in music with dance includes performing, directing, and recording for several large productions. He has an extensive teaching roster at universities, public schools and music conservatories. He has studied various styles of world music with masters of their respective idioms, including Madou Kante, N’Goma N’Dao, Changuito, Anga Diaz, Bobby Sanabria, Clint Gillespie and Dr. Glenn Price.
HOWARD LEVY, Harmonica and Piano/Musical Director (United States)
Howard Levy’s musical adventures include journeys into jazz, pop, rock, world music, Latin, classical, folk, blues, country, theater, and film. He developed a fully chromatic style on the standard 10 - hole diatonic harmonica, revolutionizing harmonica playing. Both a Grammy and Joseph Jefferson Award winner, he is also an accomplished composer and multi-instrumentalist. Howard was a founding member of the Bela Fleck and the Flecktones (recently completing their global reunion tour) and formed Trio Globo with Eugene Friesen and Glen Velez. He has performed and recorded with Kenny Loggins, Styx, Dolly Parton, Bobby McFerrin, Paul Simon, John Prine, Paquito D’Rivera, Ken Nordine, and many others, such as Rabih Abou Khalil and Michael Riessler. He was commissioned by The Illinois Philharmonic to compose a Harmonica Concerto, the first ever written for diatonic harmonica.
WENDY STERNBERG – Founder and Executive Producer
The creative engine behind Genesis at the Crossroads’ mission, vision and all of its programs, Sternberg founded both Saffron Caravan and its predecessor, the Genesis World Music Ensemble. She has been featured on NPR, the BBC, Al Jazeera, Israeli and UN Radio and appeared as a guest on CBS, ABC 7, Channel 5 News, and Australian Broadcasting Company, among others. She and GATC have been the subject of numerous articles worldwide from The Chicago Tribune to Newsweek’s blog and The Bangkok Post. She was the Finalist for the Susan F. Berkowitz Award for Teaching Tolerance to Children and was featured as one of the 10 Jewish Chicagoans of the Year. Rotary International not only recognized her efforts to foster cross-cultural understanding worldwide with the Frankel Award, but also selected her as one of 22 global leaders from 18 countries to participate in the Peace and Conflict Studies Fellowship at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand in 2009. Her former medical career informs the healing aspects at the heart of GATC’s global efforts.
The essence of arts diplomacy™
Saffron Caravan, the entire nine-member Genesis World Music Ensemble, unites stellar musicians from Iran, Afghanistan, Cuba, Morocco and the United States to serve as a model of cross-cultural collaboration for other disciplines to emulate. Their repertoire, spanning seven languages and multiple keys, explores both the sacred and mystical traditions in Arab, Jewish and Persian music. Infused with sub-Saharan roots of blues and jazz, spiced with Afro-Caribbean and South-American rhythms, their evocative melodies transport our international audiences. Their performances feature foreign integrated artists. Five of the nine musicians are Grammy-Awardees and/or Nominees.
The full ensemble also includes: Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez, Drums (Cuba); Humayun Khan, Harmonium and Vocals (Afghanistan); Victor Miranda, Bass (Cuba); Alberto Mizrahi, Vocals (United States); Shahin Shahida, Guitar (Iran); Haj Youness, Oud (Morocco)