On Thursday, April 24, Community Voices presents John Ferguson, Executive Director of American Voices. John Ferguson’s talk is titled, American Voices: Cultural Diplomacy and Engagement in Difficult Places, Sudan, Iraq, Pakistan and Beyond. Ferguson will present the work of the 20-year old not-for-profit organization, American Voices, whose ground breaking cultural diplomacy and engagement work in nations emerging from conflict or isolation has won several national and international awards. Discussion will center around the need for ‘engagement’ (repeated, long-term projects) as well as ‘diplomacy’ (one-off concerts and high profile events). His talk will be at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 24th at the Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg. Admission is free.
Ferguson will present and discuss models of best practices in cultural engagement as well as video from recent American Voices hip hop, Broadway, jazz, Rap, break dance, youth orchestra and children’s theater programs in Sudan, Pakistan and Iraq. If you are curious about Hip Hop in Iraq and Sudan or Broadway in Pakistan and have never seen aspiring Pakistani Broadway triple threats dance ‘Footloose’, this is your chance. An excerpt of the documentary, ‘Camp Unity’ about the 2008 YES Academy in Iraq will be shown.
John Ferguson currently resides in Bangkok, Thailand where he carries out his dual roles as pianist and Executive Director of American Voices. His performing activities include over one hundred concerts, broadcasts and master classes per year throughout Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
In October 2011, American Voices was the chosen by the U.S. Department of State to administer the American Music Abroad program. The American Music Abroad program has evolved out of an illustrious line of cultural diplomacy programming conducted by the U.S. government, including the renowned Jazz Ambassadors and The Rhythm Road programs.
Community Voices speakers are engaged in fostering work that strengthens community. Their leadership includes the capacity to speak cogently and concisely about their experiences, to tell stories, sometimes using multi- media tools to perform in ways that are revealing of their work; and, to present ideas for change, ideas that matter.
Sponsors of this Community Voices event include the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance, the College of Architecture and Urban Studies, and, the Office of Outreach and International Affairs.