World Music Institute
Music and dance are both a means to communicate social values and a measure of a society's aspirations. Through its concerts WMI seeks to educate, entertain, and provide spiritual nourishment. WMI's programs are intended to reinforce the cultural values of the community and to communicate to all the unique power of each individual culture.
World Music Institute is a not-for-profit concert presenting organization founded in 1985 and dedicated to the research, presentation and documentation of the finest in traditional and contemporary music and dance from around the world.
WMI encourages cultural exchange between nations and ethnic groups and collaborates with community organizations and academic institutions in fostering greater understanding of the world’s cultural traditions. WMI works extensively with community groups and organizations including Indian, Iranian, Chinese, Korean, Middle Eastern, Latin American, Hungarian, Irish, and Central Asian. This has enabled us to be at the forefront of planning and presenting the finest ensembles from these countries.
WMI presents a full season of concerts each year in New York City, and arranges national tours by visiting musicians from abroad, as well as US-based artists. WMI’s accomplishments and expertise in its field are recognized by major institutions throughout the US and internationally. Institutions such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and UCLA regularly seek our advice. Our board of advisors includes ethnomusicologists, anthropologists, senior musicians, and other experts.
Programs take place at venues throughout the city, including Symphony Space, Town Hall, Skirball Performing Arts Center at NYU, New York City Center, the Rose Theater (Jazz at Lincoln Center), and Carnegie Hall. The artists for World Views, an annual series at Zankel Hall presented in partnership with Carnegie Hall, are chosen by WMI’s curatorial staff. Other collaborative partners have included Aaron Davis Hall, the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, City Lore, Lincoln Center, Skirball Center, and Summerstage.
WMI works closely with culturally specific organizations to promote its events. Many concerts are presented as thematic series; these have included The Musical World of Islam, Masters of Indian Music, Africa in the Americas, Music around the Mediterranean, and National Heritage Masters. Others are presented as festivals such as the New York Blues Festival, Grassroots Gospel Festival, Festival of Indonesia, and Festival of India. In addition to its regular programming, WMI has also produced unique shows such as the Gypsy Caravan, which featured artists from six Romani communities, as well as India, and toured throughout the US. An internationally acclaimed film of this tour was premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2006.
WMI has brought many musical, dance and ritual traditions to the New York stage for the first time, including Laotian sung poetry, folk music of Khorason and Bushehr (Iran), songs of the Yemenite Jews, Bardic divas of Central Asia, trance ceremonies from Morocco, music from Madagascar, and Theyyams (masked dances) of Kerala, South India. Many artists have been given their U.S. or New York debuts by WMI.
Dance has always been a significant part of WMI’s programming and the annual New York Flamenco Festival at New York City Center and other locations has become a staple of the New York winter concert season, drawing visitors from across the country and abroad. Another important winter season event, the annual globalFEST, a collaboration with Joe's Pub at the Public Theater and Acidophilus: Live and Active Cultures in association with The Bowery Presents, has become a mecca for presenters and young people seeking the cutting edge in current world music.
WMI programs are made possible by: The National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts, a State agency; and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs.
Funding is also provided by: American Express, Anonymous, The Howard Bayne Fund, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Chamber Music America, Chloe Trust, Greenwich House Senior Center, Jewish Communal Fund, Merrill Family Charitable Foundation, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, New York Community Trust, Nonprofit Finance Fund, Paradis Charitable Fund, Persian Heritage Foundation, Phaedrus Foundation, The Pinkerton Foundation, Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Shapiro Foundation, David & Sylvia Teitelbaum Fund, Traditional Crossroads, Trust for Mutual Understanding, and matching gifts from the Children’s Place and Pfizer, and generous in-kind support from Morell & Company, Solera Restaurant, Tempranillo Wines, and from the Friends of WMI.