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Religare: Music

Religare: Music

A Five-Part Series Exploring Music Through Diverse Religious and Cultural Traditions. Every Tuesday in March - 6:00pm-7:00pm CST.

As part of Houston Grand Opera's Seeking the Human Initiative and the Institute for Spirituality and Health's Religare series, we bring you a month-long celebration of music and the human spirit.

Religare, “to bind” in Latin, is considered by some scholars to be the root for “religion.” In the Religare Series, we explore the many facets of religious traditions that help bind them together and to each other. Featuring elements such as prayer, music, food, architecture, and rituals, this series seeks to stimulate the audience’s understanding of the richness of religious traditions both familiar and new.

Religare: Music, a series unto itself, asks the question, “How does music stimulate the human spirit?” From Gregorian chanting to ancient Carnatic music, to the silence of contemplative practice, to hip-hop, to the works of Hildegard von Bingen - creative play with sound connects us with the transcendent mystery and to the deepest parts of human experience and emotion. Featuring locally and nationally recognized artists, Religare: Music will bring participants on a journey through rhythm, harmony, melody, lyrics, and silence, as we explore the nuances of music and how it has appeared across times and cultures.

These events will be held virtually via live-stream each Tuesday in March 2021, from 6:00 pm-7:00 pm CST, and will feature speakers, scholars, and musical performances from various religious and cultural traditions.
Rhythm: March 2nd at 6 pm
Featuring KoumanKe'le' African Dance & Drum Ensemble, Calmecac Indigenous Organization, Kaminari Taiko, and Avner Dorman. 

Melody: March 9th at 6 pm
Featuring Anthony Brandt, Ph.D., Fatih Bayram, Chanticleer, and Pandit Suman Ghosh

Harmony: March 16th at 6 pm
Featuring Patrick Summers, Paolo Bordignon, and the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Choir

Lyrics: March 23rd at 6 pm
Featuring Anthony Pinn, Ph.D., Houston Rapper Bun B, Cantor Rollin Simmons, and Deborah “D.E.E.P.” Mouton

Silence: March 30th at 6 pm
Featuring Live Oak Friends Meeting, Jain Center of Houston

Register below to receive updates and the links to join us!


Guests and artists speak about how RHYTHM plays a role in their spiritual and cultural practices.

You can watch the broadcast of Episode 1 here:

Read more about our guests:

Avner Dorman writes music of intricate craftsmanship and rigorous technique, expressed with a soulful and singular voice. A native of Israel now living in the United States, Dorman draws on a variety of cultural and historical influences in composing, resulting in music that affects an emotional impact while exploring new territories. His music utilizes an exciting and complex rhythmic vocabulary, as well as unique timbres and colors in orchestral, chamber, and solo settings; many of his compositions have become contemporary staples in the repertoire. Dorman's music is championed by conductors including Zubin Mehta, Christoph Eschenbach, Ricardo Chailly, and Andris Nelsons, and by soloists such as Pinchas Zukerman, Gil Shaham, Martin Grubinger, and Hilary Hahn. You can learn more at

Kaminari Taiko was founded in 1996 by Jay Mochizuki along with a number of talented musicians from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities. Since its founding, Kaminari Taiko has grown into the premier taiko ensemble in the Gulf South, performing at concerts and festivals from Texas to Tennessee. Kaminari's public awareness and support programs have been recognized by many organizations, including the Consulate General of Japan in Houston, the City of Houston, the Japan America Society, and Asia Society. By fusing traditional instruments with modern rhythms, Kaminari strives to respectfully advance taiko as an art form, and to inspire audiences in Texas and beyond. You can learn more at

Since 2004, it has been the goal of the founder of KoumanKe’le’ African Drum & Dance Ensemble, to reconnect current and future generations to the history and traditions of the Diaspora, along with its transitions and current applications through dance, drum, and culturally educated performances. You can learn more at

Calmecac Indigenous Arts Organization was founded in 2014, as an umbrella organization for people to be introduced to the indigenous arts here in Houston by way of traditional ceremony. Our traditional name is Calmecac Tonantzin Yolilitzyotl which translates to Mother Earth resurrecting. We have been in the traditional Native American ceremonies for 23 years and have been in our Danza Azteca Splendor (Mexica/Aztec dance tradition) for 18 years. Our style is not affiliated with the church or any religious institution we are a form of native American spirituality that is expressive through the arts as our form of prayer. You can learn more at

We experienced some glitches during Episode 2's live stream. 

You can view the original broadcast here:

The edited version can be viewed here:



More about Episode 2's guests:

Dr. Anthony Brandt

Composer Anthony Brandt is a Professor of Composition and Theory at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music and Artistic Director of the new music ensemble Musiqa, winner of two national awards for adventurous programming.  Dr. Brandt’s catalog includes three chamber operas, as well as orchestral, chamber, vocal, theater, dance, and television scores.  Recordings of his music are available on the Albany, Crystal, and Navona Live labels.

Dr. Brandt and neuroscientist David Eagleman have co-authored The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World, which has been published in thirteen countries.  Dr. Brandt writes and speaks frequently about music cognition and creativity, and is currently a co-investigator in two neuroimaging studies involving music. 

You can learn more about Dr. Brandt here!

Fatih Bayram of the Istanbul Trio

Fatih Bayram is a musician, producer and dubbing director. He's been performing with various ensembles in New York and New Jersey since 2006. He has played classical Turkish music, Turkish folk music, and contemporary Turkish music with musicians all around the United States, including Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. He has introduced the sound of Turkish folk and popular music to many at intercultural gatherings and festivals around the nation.

You can learn more about the Istanbul Trio here!

Tim Keeler of Chanticleer

The GRAMMY® Award-winning vocal ensemble Chanticleer has been hailed as “the world’s reigning male chorus” by The New Yorker, and is known around the world as “an orchestra of voices” for its wide-ranging repertoire and dazzling virtuosity.  Founded in San Francisco in 1978 by singer and musicologist Louis Botto, Chanticleer quickly took its place as one of the most prolific recording and touring ensembles in the world, selling over one million recordings and performing thousands of live concerts to audiences around the world.

You can learn more about Chanticleer here!

Pandit Suman Ghosh

Celebrated Indian (Hindustani) Vocal virtuoso Pandit Suman Ghosh’s mellifluous voice, soul-stirring artistry, and technical perfection, elevates his music to divinity.

Besides his performing genius, Pandit-ji is a path-finding Guru and founder of the Center for Indian Classical Music of Houston, a frontrunner in upholding this priceless lineage.

Key honors bestowed upon him include a Lifetime Achievement Award, Gold Medal for Excellence at the Park City Film Music Festival, and a Proclamation ‘Pandit Suman Ghosh Day’ by the City of Houston commemorating his arrival here. He has as performed at the Indian Parliament and for the President of India at the Presidential Palace.

You can learn more about Pandit Suman Ghosh here!



Guests and artists speak about how HARMONY plays a role in their spiritual and cultural practices.

You can learn more about our guests here:

Jeremy Johnson, Dramaturg at Houston Grand Opera, serves as the resident opera information source for audiences, patrons, and staff, communicating the musical, historical, sociological, ideological, and dramaturgical context for each of HGO’s operas. He works closely with composers and librettists on the commissioning and development of contemporary opera, solicits and reviews scores and libretti for production, and makes programming and casting recommendations as a member of HGO’s artistic team. He holds two degrees in vocal performance from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, an MBA from the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois, and a certificate in copyright law from Harvard Law School. He is passionate about contemporary opera’s ability to disrupt the industry toward a more creative, equitable, and accessible future.

Paolo Bordignon is an Organist & Choirmaster of St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City and harpsichordist of the New York Philharmonic. 2019-20 included concerts with Camerata Pacifica, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Boston Symphony Chamber Players, the All-Star Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, among others.

Festival appearances include Aspen, Bard, Bay Chamber, Bridgehampton, Jackson Hole, Palm Beach, and Vail.

Paolo studied at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music before earning a doctorate from the Juilliard School. He is an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Music and a Fellow of the Royal Canadian College of Organists.

You can learn more about Paolo here!

Wheeler Avenue Baptist Sanctuary Choir worships, sings praises and makes a joyful noise unto the Lord. It is energetic and vibrant adult choir know for their high-level of praise. The Age Range is 18 yrs and up.

You can learn more about Wheeler Avenue Baptist here!

Peter Bouteneff teaches courses in theology, spirituality, and the arts at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, where he is a professor of systematic theology and founding director of the Institute of Sacred Arts.

Dr. Bouteneff’s first degree is from New England Conservatory where he studied jazz and ethnomusicology. After some years living and traveling in Japan, Asia, and Europe he landed at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, where he received his M.Div. degree in 1990. From there he went to Oxford and wrote his doctorate under the supervision of Metropolitan Kallistos Ware. For five years he was on the staff of the Faith and Order Commission at the World Council of Churches in Geneva. Since 2000 he has been bringing all of these experiences to bear on his teaching, writing, and public speaking. His close kinship with the music of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt has led to the seminary’s Arvo Pärt Project, which has blossomed into a celebrated endeavor involving high-profile concerts, conferences, and publications. The Pärt Project has also expanded into the seminary’s Institute of Sacred Arts, of which Bouteneff is founding director.

You can learn more about Dr. Bouteneff here!

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