Allen Ginsberg

Renowned poet, world traveler, spiritual seeker, founding member of a major literary movement, champion of human and civil rights, photographer and songwriter, political gadfly, teacher, and co-founder of a poetics school. Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997) defied simple classification.

Anastasia Durasova

Anastasia Durasova is a Siberia-born, New York-based makeup artist and body painter.  Being a classically trained painter and sculptor, Durasova is known for her creative versatility and is able to move fluidly between commercial beauty and creative makeup.  Her clients include Yves Saint Laurent, Maybelline New York, Estee Lauder, Clinique, Y3, Victoria’s Secret, and Covergirl.

Durasova has collaborated with top photographers such as Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, Ellen von Unwerth, Paola Kudacki, Platon, Greg Kadel, Mark Selinger, Kenneth Willardt, Robert Trachtenberg, Cass Bird, and Glen Luchford.  Her work has been featured in Vogue (Portugal, China), Teen Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar US, Elle US, and Garage.

Ashley MacIsaac

Summer 2012: Ashley has just completed a new collection of tunes with Barbara MacDonald Magone called Beautiful Lake Ainslie, a collection of traditional tracks performed with Piano and Fiddle, recorded in Windsor at Polaris Studios.

Much has been said about the antics of the enfant terrible of the Fiddle, but only because he has had international success and notoriety from an early age and grew up under the spotlight as one of the most dynamic fiddlers from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. MacIsaac constantly pushed the traditional styles of Celtic music as he grew up and incorporated rock, pop, and everything imaginable in between.

A renowned fiddle player, piano player and step dancer, Ashley MacIsaac has performed in the opening ceremonies at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics to a worldwide audience and with artists such as Phillip Glass and The Chieftains. Ashley also played with The White Stripes for their “Under Great White Northern Lights” Canadian tour, which was turned in to a documentary. So impressed by Ashley’s electric performance and love of bending genres, Jack White has invited him to co-write and perform with him on a country blues song for Jack’s new label based in Nashville.

He has appeared on the Conan O’Brian show, the Today Show and has been a spotlight at international festivals, theatres, and halls all over the world. He has also been featured on Bravo’s celebrity series “Star Portraits” and CBC’s acclaimed series “Life & Times”.

In 2005 MacIsaac released his first non-fiddle record “Pride”, a collection of pop songs, which was an artistic success and allowed Ashley to experiment with new genres.  Fall 2009 brought forth a joint record with his sister, Madison Violet’s Lisa MacIsaac, titled “New Family Tradition” made up of Celtic jigs and tunes. “New Family Tradition” was the first time the siblings had ever collaborated on a record together. The album was only available at shows and promptly sold out.

The CD titled “Crossover” is Ashley MacIsaac’s first full band recording since 2002. No frills, just great music by a proud Canadian who shreds on a fiddle like no one else can.  With the exciting musical experiments and collaborations of recent years still in his mind, Ashley became energized again with the release of “Crossover”, the first album in this style in ten years.  With Celtic crossovers such as the beautiful “She’s A Rare One”, sung by Mary Jane Lamond. “I begged Mary Jane to sing my favourite old Gaelic song,” MacIsaac recalls, “finally she did and it was worth all the begging! Mary Jane Lamond is indeed a rare one.” There is also the bittersweet ballad “White Velvet”, the lyrics, which MacIsaac credits as the inspiration for the entire album, are coupled with music influenced by his Catholic upbringing. Of course we can also expect electrifying, fast paced Power Rock Fiddle songs like “Poka Rokin.” “This was my dad’s favourite Cape Breton step dance tune which I kicked up one powerful notch!”

Ashley describes this record as his proper answer to his 1995 multi-platinum record “Hi How Are You Today?” and while having made 7 more albums and ventured into many different genres since then; the album manages to echo his first big hit while also containing different styles which span the range of influences and musical textures that Ashley has discovered throughout his life.

One of the most celebrated Canadian roots musicians of all time, having sold in excess of 500,000 albums, Ashley has garnered international acclaim by playing the fiddle in that hard-nosed, traditional Cape-Breton style, while adding his own spin, mixing genres and updating Celtic music to appeal to a broader spectrum of fans. Considered something of a local legend and prodigy by the time of his impressive 1992 debut Close To The Floor, Ashley broke through to the mainstream with the double-platinum genre-bending Hi, How Are You Today? in 1995. International radio play for the single Sleepy Maggie and a regular slot on MuchMusic made Ashley an instant Canadian icon.

Atom Egoyan

Atom Egoyan is one of the most celebrated contemporary filmmakers on the international scene. His body of work – which includes theatre, music, and art installations – delves into issues of memory, displacement, and the impact of technology and media on modern life.

Egoyan has won numerous prizes at international film festivals including the Grand Prix and International Critics Awards from the Cannes Film Festival, two Academy Award® nominations, and numerous other honours. His films have won twenty-five Genies – including three Best Film Awards – and a prize for Best International Film Adaptation from The Frankfurt Book Fair. Egoyan’s films have been presented in numerous retrospectives across the world, including a complete career overview at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, followed by similar events at the Filmoteca Espagnol in Madrid, the Museum of The Moving Image in New York, and the Royal Cinematek in Brussels.

Egoyan is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Directors Guild of America, the Directors Guild of Canada, the Writers Guild of America, the Writers Guild of Canada, and the Royal Canadian Academy of Art. He currently lives in Toronto with actress Arsinée Khanjian.

Bassem Youssef

Bassem Youssef, dubbed the Jon Stewart of the Arab World, was the host of popular TV show AlBernameg – which was the first of its kind political satire show in the Middle East. Throughout its three season run, AlBernameg remained controversial due to its hilarious and bold criticism of the ruling powers. During its final season, the show achieved unprecedented ratings before Youssef announced its termination due to overwhelming political pressures on the show and the airing channel.

In 2013, Youssef was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People and was awarded the International Press Freedom Award by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). He was a reoccurring guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. In 2016, Youssef hosted a digital series titled The Democracy Handbook for Fusion Network. He is also the star of the world-renowned documentary, Tickling Giants, directed by Sara Taksler. In 2017, Youssef released a book about his experience called Revolution for Dummies: Laughing Through the Arab Spring. In 2018, Youssef hosted a podcast on CAFE called, Remade in America, where he interviewed his guests as they explore what it means to be an outsider in America.

Youssef currently performs his one-man show, LATE FOR DEMOCRACY around the globe and the first title in Bassem’s upcoming children’s book series, The Magical Reality of Nadia published on February 2nd, 2021 by Scholastic and is currently being developed as an animated series. Bassem will next be seen in the upcoming Untitled Mo Amer Netflix series. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Basya Schechter

Blending a psychedelic sensibility and a pan-Mediterranean sensuality, Basya Schechter leads her band, Pharaoh’s Daughter, through swirling Hasidic chants, Mizrachi and Sephardi folk-rock, and spiritual stylings filtered through percussion, flute, strings and electronica.Her sound has been cultivated by her Hasidic music background and a series of trips to the Middle East, Africa, Israel, Egypt, Central Africa, Turkey, Kurdistan and Greece.

She began retuning her guitar to sound like a cross between an Arabic oud and a Turkish saz, with harmonic minor melodies, and odd time signatures. With the many amazing musicians, named below and others as well she has recorded four albums, three with Pharaoh’s Daughter and one instrumental exploration with Persian santur player, Alan Kushan. PD also appears on three Tzadik label compilations: Voices in the Wilderness, the 10 year of anniversary of Zorn’s Masada compositions; a collection of Sasha Argov music; and, a Brazilian Jewish composer from earlier in the 20th century, Jacob Du Bandolim.

Pharaoh’s Daughter has toured extensively through America, Eastern and Western Europe, as well as Greece and the UK. This past summer, Pharaoh’s Daughter had the honor of debuting at Central Park’s Summer Stage series in August 2004, and has played such presigious stages as Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park, and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. When she’s not touring or performing, Basya plays darbuka, riq and frame drum as part of the B’nai Jeshurun music ensemble that accompanies Friday night services.

Over the past two years, Basya was the recipient of numerous compositional and project grants from NYSCA (New York State Council of the Arts) American Composers Forum (for Trance, and multilayered sound and video installation collaboration with fillmaker Pearl Gluck) and the American Music Center. She hopes to record Pharaoh’s Daughter’s fifth album, Hagar, within the next year.

Beverly Emmons

Tony Award® winning lighting designer Beverly Emmons was an undergraduate when her dance studies took her to the American Dance Festival at Connecticut College. There, she encountered lighting designers Tom Skelton and Jean Rosenthal and became fascinated by their profession, finding herself far more excited about supporting and illuminating productions than performing in them. Emmons studied at Sarah Lawrence College and in her junior year attended a Saturday lighting class at the Lester Polakov Studio taught by Jean Rosenthal, Thomas Skelton, Tharon Musser, and Chuck Levy, some of the brightest stars in the business. Early in her senior year, Emmons was offered her first lighting design job with the legendary Merce Cunningham Dance Company. During the three and a half years touring with his company, she also assisted Broadway lighting designer and producer Jules Fisher, who has won a record eight Tony Awards for lighting design. Over the years, Emmons has lit Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, regional theater, dance, opera, and even a Disney World show. She says, “It’s a privilege to work with many different artists and all kinds of theatrical styles.”

Her lighting won a Tony Award for the 1980 Broadway production of Amadeus, and she has received seven Tony nominations for her work on other productions. She also earned a Lumen Award, shared with Robert Wilson for Einstein on the Beach, an Obie for Distinguished Lighting, two Bessie Awards, and five American Theater Wing Design Awards. She has worked with many interesting directors over the years, from Graciela Daniele, Tommy Tune, and James Lapine on Broadway, to the prominent Romanian directors Lucian Pintilie and Liviu Cuilei at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC. “In dance I worked with both Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham [the innovators of modern dance],” remarks Emmons. “They were wonderful.”

A freelancer, Emmons brings in assistants and associates with specific skills for each project. She teaches her own workshops and has also lectured at Columbia University, Pratt Institute, New York University, Yale, and other institutions. Her philosophy is simple. “I like to call lighting design a secondary art form,” she says. “We support and reveal the work that somebody else is making. What’s important is the work on the stage—the dancers, the actors, the vision of the director, playwright, choreographer and how this play or this dance should be seen. It is the work that is important and our role is to reveal and reinforce it. It’s an honor to be useful in that area.”