Special Performances

Vocal Performance: Melanie O'Reilly  (Mistletoe Music)
Choreography & Dance Performance : Lee Kane's Theater Dance Program: The Big Open Space 

Melanie O'Reilly (Vocalist) is one of Ireland's foremost jazz singers and her own  unique style of Celtic Jazz , which she has brought to international audiences, has been described as  "*A gorgeous sound..Celtic Cadence with a jazz sensibility"( Andy Gilbert, Berkeleyside), and "Breathtaking,... sheer  virtuosity*"( Irish Times).  Her music has been featured in Frontline./PBS documentaries.  and she is recognised in Downbeat magazine as Ireland's international celtic -jazz representative, as well as spreading her creative cultural sound far and wide.. She has worked for musicians rights in her native Ireland and is committed to bringing music to national and international venues alike, believing that arts and culture are a vital part of community life.  She is also a popular vocal music educator, is the host of the Award winning radio show " Jazz on the Bay" for the Irish National Broadasting station RTE, and has represented Ireland at a major international EUJazz Festival at UCLA   Melanie has also has presented a talk on *Cultural Ambassadorship: the value of music in our world * at the Rotary Club ,CA.  and was the featured artist for International Women's Day Dinner Forum for the UNA in Berkeley in April this year. www.melanieoreilly.com.

Lee Kane (Choreographer & Dance Teacher) is founder and director of The Big Open Space, a Theater Dance training program specifically designed for students of musical theater and the performing arts. Her goal is to instill a sense of confidence and love for dance in Bay Area youth. Her program teaches a myriad of dance styles, including ballet, modern, jazz, hiphop, period dance, world dance, character dance & Broadway repertory. Lee was born in South Korea, grew up in New York, and is now proud to live and teach in Oakland California with her beautiful daughter, Sammi. Lee@TBOS.dance

Voices of Afghanistan
Sung by Ustad Mahwash, with Armonia by Khalil Raghib and Tabla by Ehasan Ahmad


Khalil Ragheb, a musician, singer & composer, was born in Kabul, Afghanistan.  He worked for five years at Iranian television where he first met and performed with the “Voice of Afghanistan,” Ustad Farida Mahwash.  Ragheb volunteered to play harmonium with Mahwash and the two became friends.  1979 brought calamity and Ragheb moved to Germany, and, in 1988, to the United States, where he has lived ever since. In California, Ragheb once again found himself on stage with Mahwash, and this time the friendship deepened. They have worked together since that time, for 21 years now. 

Ustad Farida Mahwash, commonly referred to as Ustad Mahwash. is a singer and voice of Afghanistan. She was the first woman to have been conferred the honorary title of "Ustad" in 1977.  She currently lives in Fremont, California, US; and tours the world with her latest all star ensemble Voices of Afghanistan.  

Ahsan Ahmad was born in Kabul Afghanistan. Later due to war and growing conflicts in his homeland, he and his family had to flee to Pakistan. After living in Pakistan for 5 years as a refugee, he and his family migrated to the United States in 1988 where he started to grow a keen interest in music, specifically in Tabla (an Indian classical instrument played for all different genres.)  After learning from many different gurus of classical music, he became a student of Ustad Tari Khan where he learned to play the instrument professionally. Today he is considered as one of the gifted and talented tabla player to accompany many Afghan artists. He has performed in virtually every part of the country with classical and ghazal singers including the great Ustad Mahwash.


El Djazira was founded by the multi-instrumentalist Mohamed Bachir Mazouni and two of his students as an education center for classical Andalusian music, initially specializing in violin, guitar, mandolin, lute, and tambourine.  By the year 2000 El Djazira had transformed into a non-profit association and an orchestra ensemble with a mission to piously preserve the century long Spanish-Arabic music of the Maghreb.  They have since evolved into a school of music with multi-generational musicians and artists and an institution that preserves the heritage of a century-long culture of music, art, and peace of El Andalus in the Iberian peninsula.  

The association plays a key role in the community by providing education to women and girls through music and art to promote equality for all.  They are a member of the International Commission for the Measures for the Promotion of Development and Preservation of Cultural Heritage, an International Committee of Arts and Popular Traditions, under the auspices of UNESCO.