Donovan Shirt performs traditional Cree dance

Rapper and motivational speaker Donovan Shirt from Edmonton, Alberta, was recently spotted performing a traditional Cree dance on a moving escalator! Donovan participated as part of Singing Storytellers in October 2014 in Cape Breton. In an article published on April 29th, 2016, CBC News notes that the video was shot by Gary Moostoos, a well-known Indigenous cultural advisor in Edmonton, at the LRT platform beneath Commerce Place as the group waited for a train. To watch the video, please click on the article link above. To learn more about Donovan Shirt, visit our Media section at!

Excited to be in Kazakhstan at ICTM World Conference!

I’m thrilled to be participating in the International Council for Traditional Music World Conference that opened today in Astana, Kazakhstan at the Kazakh National University of Arts! I’m here with more than 400 delegates from over 100 countries, sharing research and engaging in exciting discussions about music and culture from around the world. We began our first day, welcomed by Kazakhstan’s Deputy Prime Minister, as well as the Rector of the University who is a world-class violinist! The official opening ceremony was followed by a youth music concert, a plenary on safeguarding musical traditions, afternoon panels of exciting new research, a reception (including a traditional Kazakh drink, horse milk), and a spectacular showcase of students and faculty of the National U of the Arts. Follow me on twitter @m_ostashewski (find my twitter feed on my website at to see photos and videos of conference events, and my adventures in Astana – a city that is only 20 years old yet has astounding monumental architecture! I’ve also posted more information and photos about Kazakh bardic performances that were on stage tonight on the project website!



Kazakh bards featured in tonight’s ICTM concert!

It’s been a wonderful first day at the International Council for Traditional Music World Conference in Astana, Kazakhstan at the Kazakh National University of Arts! You can read more about the opening events at this website on the blog. Tonight we were treated to a spectacular concert showcase of Kazakh National U of Arts student and faculty (including the Provost!). Performances by singing storytellers were featured in the concert so I’d like to share a concert photo with you. This student ensemble, led by their teacher, a woman, in playing an instrument that appears to be have been played, historically, by male performers only (much like the bandura it seems)! For more videos (including a bardic performance), follow me on twitter @m_ostashewski and check out the blog on my website at!image

Singing Storytellers – Sunjata Story – featured on BBC!

We are so proud to have had the Singing Storytellers “Sunjata Story” filmic material previewed in London, England at a SOAS conference on identities last week! LISTEN to Cherif Keita tell us about the story during his recent interview on the BBC!

Hawa Kasse Made Diabate, Fode Lassana Diabate, Professor Cherif Keita performing at the Singing Storytellers Symposium.

Hawa Kasse Made Diabate, Fode Lassana Diabate, Professor Cherif Keita performing at the Singing Storytellers Symposium.

Curating Ethnomusicology/Exhibiting Music events begin Monday, June 15!

I’m proud to be a part of the Exhibiting Sound team, and looking forward to  opening of a week of exciting events at Cape Breton University. This Monday at 9 a.m we begin the Curating Ethnomusicology pre-conference workshop!

The first public Exhibiting Sound event is Curating Ethnomusicology, a pre-conference workshop in digital humanities being held at CBU from June 15-16. This event brings together local, national and international heritage and media professionals and scholars, all of whom are involved in the creation of innovative multimedia that attends to music from around the world. The workshop includes a special focus on collaborative research with Indigenous communities. Events and exhibitions, all on the CBU campus and open to public, will include scholarly and industry presentations, practical/applied workshops, exhibitions, performance/lectures, film screenings and other interactive learning opportunities. Curating Ethnomusicology is a prelude to Exhibiting Music, the Canadian Society for Traditional Music conference, being hosted by Cape Breton University from June 17-19 ( Follow or join the conversation via Twitter using the hashtag #CuratingEthno for the pre-conference, and for the conference: #CSTM2015. (excerpted from a recent Cape Breton University press release)

Learn more about Exhibiting Sound, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, at our website and by following us on Twitter @exhibitingsound ! Learn more about this week’s “Exhibiting Music” conference here.


Come out this Friday at 7 pm to the iCreate showcase event!


Please join us Friday, June 12 for a closing presentation from the iCreate Cape Breton Pilot Project. This youth showcase, starting at 7 pm at the Boardmore Theatre at Cape Breton University, features visual art, rapping, spoken word, theatrical exercises, and a films screenings that young Cape Bretoners have developed over the past six weeks. This event also includes a pilot social enterprise project.

Following the presentation, we invite you to talk with participants, view other materials generated during the project, and enjoy light refreshments.Admission is by donation; money raised will go to our community partner youth organizations, Access 808 and the Whitney Pier Boys and Girls Club.

"Curating Ethnomusicology" Workshop – June 15-16th

CSTM 2015 Pre-Conference Workshop

Cape Breton University, Sydney, Nova Scotia

June 15th-16th 2015

A two-day pre-conference workshop, “Curating Ethnomusicology,” will be held June 15-16th, addressing the role of ethnomusicology and its interlocutors in curatorial practices related to diverse musical practices. This interdisciplinary workshop will provide participants an opportunity to learn about, engage with and discuss a variety of ethnographic media and music curation tools, as well as creative models and issues related to music creation, translating field research, archives, and digital curation. A range of methods, tools and issues will be explored. Emergent methodologies and practices arising from work with Indigenous communities will also be a focus of the workshop. Jeff Todd Titon, Professor Emeritus at Brown University, will deliver a keynote address on his pioneering research in ecomusicology and collaborative media production in ethnomusicology. Beverley Diamond, Canada Research Chair in Ethnomusicology at Memorial University and President of the Society for Ethnomusicology, will provide a closing plenary.

This pre-conference workshop will lead to a proceedings of the same name, that translates keynotes, lectures and discussion into an appropriate publication (accompanied by multimedia resources) for ethnomusicologists, folklorists and archivists interested in engaging with their research through media, curated spaces and other materials.

More details here:


MUSICultures (41-2) on “Connecting with Communities” now online!

The most recent issue of MUSICultures (41-2), a special issue on “Connecting with Communities” guest edited by Dr. Marcia Ostashewski (Cape Breton University), is now online!


The contents of this issue include:

Engaging Communities and Cultures in Ethnomusicology: An Introduction

The Second Wave of Applied Ethnomusicology

Aesthetic Systems Theory: Doing Hip Hop Kulture Research Together at Cipher5

Listening Together, Thinking Out Loud: Popular Music and Political Consciousness in Congo-Zaire

L’enjeu des communautés en sociomusicologie : Le cas du projet de recherche sur le développement des publics de la musique au Québec

Digitization, Recirculation and Reciprocity: Proactive Archiving for Community and Memory on the Gaspé Coast and Beyond

The Musicality of Stimming: Promoting Neurodiversity in the Ethnomusicology of Autism

Flight Call

A Context for the Story: A Conversation

…as well as Book Reviews and Recording Reviews! This issue is available to current subscribers of the Canadian Society for Traditional Music here (non-subscribers can freely access issues more than 3 years old): For membership/subscription information, please visit the website of the Canadian Society for Traditional Music: Or check your institutional library for access.


iEngage Cape Breton CBC Interview

Starting in May, 2015 youth, Elders, and scholars from a number of communities in Eastern Cape Breton will come together to share knowledge and gain skills in aid of the iCreate Cape Breton project. Over May and June, the groups will meet to develop materials in their own communities, and then reconvene to share and tour their creations. We welcome the general public to join in the initial training weekend, the closing symposium, and the tour, and to follow the projects’ progress through the website and at the CBU Art Gallery, where two youth-led documentary terms will be posting and displaying their work in progress. You can listen to Marcia Ostashewski and Sheila Christie explain the project during a CBC interview on Information Morning below.

Songs of Truth Website Expanded

juliank2The Songs of Truth website has recently been expanded- you can now visit the ‘Songs’ pages to read Julian Kytasty’s lively program notes for the Songs of Truth CD, read up on the history of the bandura and the kobzar tradition under ‘The Bandura’, meet our project contributors under ‘About’, and learn more about Julian’s many musical and theatrical projects and collaborations under ‘Julian Kytasty’. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, look up the instructional materials under ‘Resources’ and learn to play the bandura yourself!