7th Annual
2018 Teachers/Performers to be announced!

This project is funded in part by the GRASSROOTS ARTS PROGRAM of the North Carolina Arts Council,
a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources, through the Asheville Area Arts Council

This event is funded in part by the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority
Festivals and Cultural Events Funding Program.

Mosaic of Rhythm
 2017 Teachers/Performers

This project is funded in part by the GRASSROOTS ARTS PROGRAM of the North Carolina Arts Council,
a division of the Department of Natural & Cultural Resources, through the Asheville Area Arts Council

This event is funded in part by the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority
Festivals and Cultural Events Funding Program.

Our exciting lineup of 2017 teaching artists includes the following:

(artists subject to change)


Honored as a peacemaker and virtuoso, his work transcends political boundaries while maintaining traditional sensibilities. He was a musical prodigy born in Turkey to a family who nurtured his precocious talents. Omar is one of the world’s foremost exponents of Middle Eastern music: a multi-instrumentalist par excellence (ney, zurna, baglama, oud, as well as percussion). His music is rooted in tradition, but has been influenced by contemporary sounds. He views his approach as “cosmic”; the four corners of which are mysticism, folklore, romance, and imagination. Like the man himself, his music symbolizes diversity-in-unity. He has collaborated with internationally recognizedmusicians such as Don Cherry, Karl Berger, ex-Cream rock drummer Ginger Baker, Ofra Haza, Simon Shaheen, Hossam Ramzy, Glen Velez, Bill Laswell, Mike Mainieri, Peter Erskine, Trilok Gurtu, Jai Uttal, Yasmin Levy, Tomatito, Enrique Morente and Steve Shehan among others. He has contributed to numerous film and TV scores, recorded many world sacred music albums, and toured extensively throughout the Middle East, Europe, Australia, North and South America.

Murat Tekbilek has been the lead percussionist in his father’s ensembles for a decade and has performed throughout the world. His instruments include darbuka (goblet drum), def and bendir (frame drums).



Naghmeh Farahmand is a Persian percussionist from a musical family and grew up in a house of full drums. Her father, Mahmoud Farahmand, is one of the leading percussion masters of Iran. She has studied tonbak, santoor, daf: all traditional Persian and Kurdish intruments. Naghmeh has performed in many well known Iranian traditional bands in Iran and festivals around the world: Germany, Switzerland, Japan (Min On Festival), France (La fete de la music), Italy, Kuwait (Women festival), Austria, and England. She has performed with Hassan Nahid, Iranian master of the ney and Hengameh Akhavan, a singer of traditional music. She now lives in Canada where she explores world music: Arabian, Bulgarian, Turkish, Indian and Jazz. She teaches master classes and workshops internationally.


Marcus Santos is a native of Bahia, Brazil and commits his life to the study, teaching and performance of his hometown's Afro-Brazilian music and heritage as well as World drumming diversity. He has performed for the president of Brazil, TEDx and with the “One World Band” produced by MTV. Marcus also played at the Sony Pictures Oscar nominated movie ‘Rachel's getting Married’ with Anne Hathaway. He has been honored with the 2013 KOSA Recognition award, Outstanding Arts Performer Award by the Brazilian Immigrant Center (2008) as well as Outstanding Percussionist Award by Berklee College of Music in 2004.


South Korean artist Jin Won is an accomplished kathak dancer, tabla player, and music educator. Her love of Indian arts led her to live in India for over fifteen years before joining the Taalim School as a faculty member and artist. She is a tabla disciple of Pandit Divyang Vakil, and studied kathak under Shrimati Shubha Desai. While in India, she also worked with leading kathak choreographers. Her unconventional journey has been the subject of a documentary by the Korean Broadcasting Service and serves as an inspiration to many. Her passion is to spread Indian classical arts. She has authored a textbook on tabla, which is currently being translated into Korean. 


Yousif Sheronick's many musical influences are highlighted in duoJalal, his venture with violist and wife Kathryn Lockwood. Yousif has performed around the globe to critical acclaim, genre hopping with leading artists in the classical, world, jazz and rock music arenas. The New York Times hails Yousif for his “dazzling improvisations” and his “wizardry on a range of humble frame drums”. He was recently featured in Drum! Magazine highlighting his versatility in an article titled “At The Corner Of The World”. He grew up playing rock and roll drum set, studied classical percussion through a masters degree at Yale University and went on to study music from Brazil, India, Africa and the Middle East. He has performed with Philip Glass, Yo-Yo Ma, Branford Marsalis, Santana, Glen Velez and Paul Winter. Like Kathryn and Yousif's marriage, duoJalal captures disparate worlds merging and represents an organic amalgam of cultural traditions and musical styles: a unique collaboration of a classical violist and world percussionist.


Kevin Spears’ music is an acoustic electronic mix of Funk, Afro-beat, Latin, and Trance with a dash of rock that will move your feet and stir your soul. Considered by many as one of the best kalimba players alive today, Kevin Spears musical gifts have astounded audiences around the world and rewritten what was thought humanly impossible on this exotic musical instrument. His creativity has been compared to innovative legends such as Herbie Hancock, Jimi Hendrix and Les Paul among others and his uncanny ability to play multiple musical and percussive ideas simultaneously in a live setting is iconic, pure and simple...


River Guerguerian, Director of Asheville Rhythm, draws upon his richly diverse experiences, to play across a remarkable span of musical genres and traditions, both obscure and mainstream. As a highly regarded studio musician, River has recorded on over 200 albums and film soundtracks. He has performed with such groups as the BBC Symphony Orchestra, New Music Consort, Tibetan Singing Bowl Ensemble, Paul Winter Consort, Talujon Percussion Ensemble, Lizz Wright, Chuck Berry, Sophie B. Hawkins, and Ziggy Marley and The Gipsy Kings. 


Multi-percussionist David Kuckhermann travels the world performing and teaching in Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Italy, Palestine, Tunisia, Brazil, Chile, France, Poland, Estonia, Ireland and the USA. His teachers include Glen Velez, Behnam Samani, Ramesh Shotham and Ustad Fayaz Khan. David created his personal style on frame drums, hang, and hybrid cajon, incorporating techniques and rhythms from the hand drumming traditions of Iran, India, Egypt, Europe, Turkey and Africa. He has worked with Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Dead Can Dance, Levent Yildirim, the medieval music ensemble Cordatum, Ahmad Al-Khatib, Taner Akyol, the Pera Ensemble, Riadh Feri, the Sicily Philarmonic Orchestra, Raquy and the Cavemen, Cristina Braga, Bassam Sabam, Mishra and Susan and Martin Weinert.


Jessie Lehmann has an innate passion that she brings to her performances and teaching of traditional West African djembe music. Patient and knowledgeable, she strives to share the culture, music, drumming and dance of West Africa with all communities. She has taught and performed in a wide variety of contexts: elementary through high school residencies, lecture demos, summer and after school programs in public schools, private camps, therapeutic programs and corporate team building. Jessie is currently lead djembe player for the performing ensemble Mosso-Kan under the Director, Barakissa Coulibally of the Ivory Coast and is excited about her new project playing traditional music with Arouna Diarra of Burkina Faso and Biko. 


Adam has studied tabla with Pt. Anindo Chatterjee, marimba with Michael Burritt, multi-percussion with River Guerguerian, and South-Indian percussion with Rohan Krishnamurthy. In addition, Adam holds a BM in Percussion Performance from the Eastman School of Music. He has collaborated with The Brooklyn Raga Massive, Pink Martini, Ensemble Signal, the National Arabic Orchestra, and The Gil Evan's Centennial Project. Adam performs internationally, is an active composer, bandleader, teacher, and holds regular retreats in the NYC area. He was instrumental in the organization of the first Asheville Percussion Festival.



Bolokada was a young musical prodigy who became a sensation in the Sankaran region of Guinea, West Africa. As a master folklorist, he became the premier djembe player in all the major village celebrations. He joined the world famous Les Percussion du Guinee as their lead drummer. He has traveled and performed in major performance venues all over the world since 1996 and was featured in the IMAX movie PULSE: a Stomp Odyssey. Since 2004, he has been performing and teaching in the United States. He is the musical director and lead soloist of Ballet Waraba in North Carolina, Ballet Wassa-Wassa in Santa Cruz, California and Les Percussion Malinke in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has conducted percussion workshop all over the US and Europe.


Chris and Eliot will be joining our Teaching Artists for the Saturday night concert at Diana Wortham Theatre to perform various original pieces with them. Chris is a composer and multi-instrumentalist well known for his unusual stringed instruments, Indian dotar and Turkish cumbus oud. Eliot plays the upright bass with masterful grace. Both men are master musicians and play internationally. When joined by River, they become the much loved Free Planet Radio.


Matthew Richmond has performed, composed, recorded, and taught in an extensive variety of styles and settings, from rock, jazz, and world music bands to symphony orchestras, musical theater, and drum and bugle corps.  He currently teaches percussion, composition, jazz, and music theory at UNC-Asheville.


Barakissa Coulibaly is a dancer and choreographer from Abobo, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. She started her career in traditional dance in 1990 with Fotemogoban, an Ivorian dance troupe based at the Cultural Center of Abobo. She developed her signature style during the next decade, performing internationally with Djolem in a plethora of countries like Switzerland, Greece, France, and Germany and many more!


Linda Block’s dance repertoire began with Israeli, Contra, and Square dance and now includes the varied rhythms of International Folk Dance, Clogging, Scandinavian Dance, Swing/Lindy Hop, Zydeco, Cajun, Country, and Salsa. She has performed with the Keren Ohr Israeli Dance Troup, Crabtown Cloggers, Cub Hill Cloggers, Stump Jumpers (Cloggers), Penn State International Dance Troupe, Undecided String Band, Jazz Action Figures (Lindy), Green Grass Cloggers. Linda has taught Appalachian Clogging/Flat Foot classes for adults, seniors, and elementary students - most recently, as an instructor at the John C. Campbell Folk School. As a career Environmental Educator, she prides herself in her interactive and varied teaching style and receives high praise from her students.


Donna is currently a working performance/musician, music arranger/composer and music educator in the Philadelphia area.  She specializes in world rhythms and music.   She has directed numerous pit orchestras  for The Academy of the New Church and the Bryn Athyn College. Currently she teaches at The Philadelphia School and the Bryn Athyn Elementary School. Donna has organized and participated in study programs in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Bolivia, Spain and Brazil in order to  expand her capacity to perform and disseminate Afro-World Rhythms.





previous years artists