Mary Ellen Donald - Middle Eastern Musician and Teacher
Home
About Mary Ellen Photo Gallery

CD's, Books & DVD's  Available for Purchase
Shop the Store for Middle Eastern Music and Training Supplies The Store - Purchase Arabian Music and Supplies, Books, CDs, Training Materials

Performances & Classes
Videos
Rhythms Corner
Reviews of Recordings & Books
Articles by
Mary Ellen

Middle Eastern Percussion Instruments

Music Theory & Key for Strokes

Sources for Instruments, Music, & Related Publications
Links
   
Music and Dance of the Silk Road

On-line sales only within the U.S.
For orders outside of the U.S. we recommend that you visit MAQAM at http://www.maqam.com/ where all of Mary Ellen Donald’s products are available for purchase.
 
Music and Dance of the Silk Road

In Xinjiang Time (1998)
Betty Anne Wong & Phoenix Spring Ensemble in collaboration with Melody of China Ensemble 

     A dream field of American Eurasian nomadic music performed on a mosaic of international instruments. 
     Mary Ellen Donald is heavily featured on this CD, playing doumbec, tambourine, and the tar (wooden frame drum).
     Performing on several ensemble pieces, Mimi Spencer is showcased on her duet with Mary Ellen, “Longa Riyadh”.  In it she performs an extended and captivating qanun taqsim (improvisation on the Middle Eastern zither).
     Mary Ellen:  “I would like to thank Betty Wong, passionate musical visionary, from the bottom of my heart for giving me the opportunity to perform with so many world class musicians from several genres of music.  Exciting, exotic, exquisite, top drawer!  Words fail to describe the richness of this CD.  Listen to the sound bytes.  Take your own Silk Road Journey and let your heart be touched.” 
     Album of the Year 2004 in the category for Asian/ethnic music under the auspices of JUST PLAIN FOLKS, a community of over 26,000 songwriters, recording artists, music publishers, record labels, performing arts societies, educational institutions, recording studios and engineers, producers, legal professionals, publicists and journalists, publications, music manufacturers and retailers and about every other type of member of the music industry. The lure of hidden treasures and fabled cities has long inspired a realizable dream. For Betty Wong and the Phoenix Spring Ensemble, the fabled oasis of Xinjiang on northwest China’s Silk Road embodies such a dream. 
     Well before Marco Polo journeyed here in the 13th century, countless numbers of merchants, monks and camel caravans cross treacherous deserts and mountains in search of treasures. 
     Xinjiang is located in the northwest corner of China and is home to Turkic Uygurs, Tajiks, Kazaks, Mongols and Han Chinese.
     The Silk Road may often by “a state of mind” rather than a locality.  This is the conception leading to the Ensemble’s CD, this along with that of the “hidden treasure” to be sought not outside us, but ‘at home’ in the heart.  The title refers to the way the Turko-Muslim population of Xinjiang sets its clocks – two hours behind Beijing time.

Congratulations! The CD (In Xinjiang Time) is wonderful!”     — Yo-Yo Ma

[Betty Wong’s] research was impeccable … she has at her call various ensembles of multicultural artists, each one a superb soloist.

Joy Carlin, Associate Artistic Director, American Conservatory Theatre
 

Phoenix Spring Ensemble:
Mary Ellen Donald: deff, zarb, tar, dumbek
Mimi Al Khayyam: kanun
Mark Izu: bass/composer
Shirley Wong Frentzel: keyboard, yang qin (Chinese hammered dulcimer)
Bill Douglass: bass, bamboo flute
Eric Crystal: saxophone
Harvey Ingham: guitar
Ken Rosen: saxophone
Valerie Samson: zhonghu (Chinese fiddle)
Dixie Treichel: composer/sound designer-engineer
Betty A. Siu Junn Wong: saz (Turkish lute), piano/composer and producer

Melody of China Ensemble:
Wang Hong: gaohu (Chinese fiddle), dap (Xinjiang frame drum)
Li Lin Hong: pipa (Chinese lute)
Lu Xian: dizi (Chinese bamboo flute)
Zhao Yang Qin: yang qin (Chinese hammered dulcimer) 

Guest Artists:
India Cooke: violin
Anthony Brown: percussion
Kat Charesh Rewab: Uyghur instrument
Jeanette Lewicki: accordion/vocal

 

 To hear a song sample,
click on
Listen  

 

 

1.

Küy Base (Uyghur)

Listen 

Listen 

2.

To Taklimakan (Uyghur)

   

3.

Joyful Xinjiang Deming Zhou

Listen 

Listen 

4.

Turfan Two Step (Uyghur)

Listen 

Listen 

5.

Send Me A Rose (Uyghur)

Listen 

Listen 

6.

1st Dastan and Marghul in Nava Mode in 5/8 (Uyghur Muqam)

   

7.

In Xinjiang Time in 7/8 (Uyghur)

   
8.

Spring of Pamir Li Da Tong

   
9.

Spring Comes to Tianshan (Uyghur)

Listen 

Listen 

10.

Pamir Suite in Navazesh Mode (Tadjik Muqam)

Listen 

Listen 

11.

Spring (Uyghur)

   
12.

Waves of Kokonor  (Tang Dynasty)

   
13.

Güzel Tashkorgan (Tadjik)

   
14.

Pamir Trance (based on Tadjik melody)

Listen 

Listen 

15.

Longa Riyadh (Arabic w/improvised taqasim)

Listen 

Listen 

16.

Op Mayda/Mayra (Tadjik/Kazakh)

Listen 

Listen 

17. Xinjiang Scintillating Betty A. Siu Junn Wong

Listen 

Listen 

Price:  US $15

Desert Dreams of Light
Phoenix Spring Ensemble

A joyful chant, a whispered word… a meeting along the Silk Road
Directed by Betty Anne Siu Junn Wong

     Mary Ellen Donald on doumbec, zarb (Persian wooden drum) and tar (wooden frame drum) and Mimi Spencer on qanun (Middle Eastern zither) weave their magic together on a number of selections on this CD.  They both play extended and intricate solos on “Hijaz Mandera” in 7/8 time.  For several pieces they are joined by Hafez Modirzadeh on the Persian nay (cane flute) and the saxophone, adding yet another layer of fire to the mix. Mary Ellen: “I’m particularly excited about playing the jazz and Middle Eastern fusion on “Long Journey” and “Sohbat”.  “Desert Dreams of Light”, the major piece on this CD is astoundingly beautiful, showing Betty Wong’s creative eclecticism at its finest.”

     The Phoenix Spring Ensemble, directed by Betty Anne Siu Junn Wong, is proud to present music influenced by folk music of the Turko-Muslim peoples of Central Asia, Eastern Turkestan (Xinjiang Province in northwest China), the Middle East, as well as original music, inspired by the ensemble’s contact with these cultures.  Eastern Turkestan reflects a geographical region poised between Afghanistan, Central Asian republics, China, Mongolia, Pakistan and Tibet.
     The Phoenix Spring Ensemble, a group of intrepid musical travelers from San Francisco, dedicates this CD to the great ancient civilizations living near the deserts of the world.  They acknowledge the lasting treasures of the “Silk Road,” the historic exchange of cultural ideas and artistic styles across this entire region.
     Travel with them, as they have for the last twenty-five years this “Silk Road of the Mind.” 

“There is only one journey – going inside yourself.”
- Rainer Maria Rilke 

     Begin the ‘Long Journey’ with “Parting at Yangguan Pass” played on the Chinese double-reed guantze; submit to the aromatic whispers of the indigenous flutes, as they meet on the Silk Road – Chinese xiao, Japanese shakuhachi, Australian didjeridu, American Indian cedar flute, Iranian ney, Turkish ney.  Brace yourselves for drums joined in hot pursuit of the hunt; and finally, embrace the music of modern day travelers on saxophone, piano and Turkish instruments, as they relish the art of conversation.

“Your work… is an important musical and anthropological statement.”
 
- Nancy Pelosi, Minority Whip, U.S. House of Representatives 

“You preserved the authenticity, style and rhythms of these musics!”
 
- Novin Afroux, Iranian Concert Pianist, Composer, Poet
 

Nikki Bengal: oboe
Tim Bolling: drums
Dan Cantrell: accordion
(Huzur) Steve Coughlin: Turkish ney
India Cooke: violin
Eric Crystal: saxophone
Mary Ellen Donald: Middle Eastern percussion
Peter Frentzel: shakuhachi
Shirley Wong Frentzel: harpsichord
Wilhelm High: double bass
Terry Holgate: riqq (Arabic tambourine)
Wang Hong: Xiao (Chinese end-blown flute)
Harvey Ingham: guitar
Elizabeth Kelley: dancer
Hafez Modirzadeh: Ira-ney, saxophone
Mariah Parker: dulcimer, keyboards
John-Carlos Perea: American Indian cedar flute
Scott Railsback: yirdaki (Australian didjeridu)
Ken Rosen: soprano saxophone
Valerie Samson: zhongwu
 

 

 To hear a song sample,
click on
Listen  

 

 

1.

Parting at Yang Guan

   

2.

Desert Trance

   

3.

Pamir Trance

   

4.

Damulla

Listen 

Listen 

5.

Long Journey

Listen 

Listen 

6.

Hijaz Mandera

Listen 

Listen 

7.

Sohbat (the art of conversation)

Listen 

Listen 

8.

Güzel Tashkorgan

Listen 

Listen 

9. Desert Dreams of Light

Listen 

Listen 

 
  Price:  US $15

Dave Scott: trumpet
Mimi Spencer: kanun (Turkish zither)
Samsun Van Loon: cello
Beth Warren: European recorder
Betty A. Siu Junn Wong: composer, performer, arranger

Silk Road Experience

Silk Road Experience DVD 

Live music, poetry and dance performances from Turkey, India, Iran, China and Syria 

January 25th, 2004 at Old First Concerts in San Francisco 

Bedazzling dancers and scintillating music. 

Mimi Spencer in virtuosic performances on the qanun.  This DVD is dedicated to her memory. 

Special feature: one of Mary Ellen Donald’s finest finger cymbal solos which draw the admiring comment from her long-time tambourinist, Terry Holgate, “That’s not music. That’s magic!” 

Mary Ellen: “Bringing together on this DVD such diverse though related forms of dance and music from the Silk Road, producer Betty Wong has managed again to be on the cutting edge of art. I guarantee that you and your friends will delight in viewing this performance over and over again.” 

Click on link to watch
Silk Road Experience Mary Ellen Donald #4 ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6k5z-tzbkfc
Silk Road Experience Mary Ellen Donald #5 ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNuwxECxUXc
Silk Road Experience Mary Ellen Donald #10 ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHEzWuzQRKk
Silk Road Experience Mary Ellen Donald #10 ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcDnI0ba4Lw
Silk Road Experience Mary Ellen Donald #11 ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0Z7a15oNiA

 
1. Ilahis and Improvisations: Perde Kaldirma
Huzur Coughlin on Turkish ney. 
2. Songs of Kabir (1440-1518)
Mimi Janislawski, Jacob Picheny, dancers. Barbara Bye, reader. 
3. Cymbology
Mary Ellen Donald on zagat/zils solo. 
4. Hijaz Mandera in 7/8 time with Taqsim
Mimi Spencer, qanun. Mary Ellen Donald, dumbek. 
5. Sohbat (The Art of Conversation)
Hafez Modirzadeh, composer, tenor sax.  Mimi Spencer, qanun.
Mary Ellen Donald, dumbek.
6. Kamanjeh: La Rencontre, La Seduction, La Celebration
Claude Gagnon, composer. Babak & Pedram Falsafi, guitar duo.
Kamran Modirian, tombek
7. Gongliang Cheng: On The Banks of the Yi Li
San Francisco Guzheng Music Society Quintet
8. Rhythm
Peony Performing Arts School
9. Qin Song Melody
Liu Wei Shan on Guzheng (ancient Chinese zither) accompanied by Winnie Wong
10. Omrek, Ah Ya Zamany, Alah Alah Ya Baba
Nazir Latouf, Syrian oud. Mary Ellen Donald.
Dumbek. Terry Holgate, riqq.
11. Pamir Trance based on original Tadjik melody
Betty Wong, composer. Hafez Moderzideh, tenor sax. Mimi Spencer, qanun.
Elena Bell, Uzbek dancer.
12. Guzel Tashkorgan, Tadjik melody arranged by Betty Wong
Elena Bell, Uzbek dancer.

Price:  US $25
CD - Bright Moon Rising


Bright Moon Rising
(first issued on cassette in 1990 and re-issued on CD in 2008 by Betty Wong.)

Featuring music of the Flowing Stream Ensemble and the Phoenix Spring Ensemble

"Bright Moon Rising contains some beautifully articulated moments, especially a stunningly soulful trio segment for flute and two basses. The Musician-ship of the entire ensemble is beyond reproach." San Francisco Examiner

Comments from Mary Ellen Donald, "I feel honored to have played a significant roll in the monumental work, Bright Moon Rising. Betty Wong, its composer, was an early pioneer in creating the type of music that is called 'fusion' today. She weaved traditional Chinese, Environmental, Middle Eastern, Jazz and the spoken word into a rich and colorful tapestry."

 To hear a song sample,
click on
Listen  

 

 

1.

From Xinjiang Province - Dance 2/4

  Listen 

2.

From Xinjiang Province - Dance 4/4

  Listen 

3.

Song of Happiness

   
 

Silk & Bamboo Music

   

4.

Beautiful Soochow

   

5.

Purple Bamboo

   

6.

Xinjiang Dance in 7/8

   
7.

Springtime in Hainan

 

Listen 

  Recital Music    
8. Open The Gates  

Listen 

  Bright Moon Rising    
9. Movement I - A Bright Moon Rising    
10. Movement II - China Marches its Men  

Listen 

  Movement III    
11. Part 1- High Tea by Moonlight  

Listen 

12. Part 2- High Moon in 3/4 Time  

Listen 

Price:  US $15
     

© Copyright 2009 Mary Ellen Donald  - All Rights Reserved
Page Design & Web Goddess
Yolanda - Last Revised: 12/09/08