Women in the Arts: Persian Gulf and Palestine—Arts on the Edge with Maxine Ramey

This session in which Dr. Maxine Ramey discussed her calling and development of the Sapphire Trio (cl, vln, pn) hit particularly close to home for me as a fellow female who may one day deploy to the Middle East.

Sapphire Trio was formed (1998) to tour all over the world. They truly use music as the universal language to break down social and cultural barriers. In 2006 the trio was officially identified as a U.S. State Department ‘Cultural Ambassador’ and they traveled to the Persian Gulf that same year to perform concerts and give master classes both within the local community and at various American Embassies. They toured Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait during a time of war.

While there, Sapphire Trio performed and engaged in their mission to serve using music to connect with people that in some cases have a negative view of Americans, women in the arts, and Western music. Their audiences held many different religious beliefs and belonged to a full range of social classes from Arabic royalty to Bedouin families.

To say that the core of Sapphire Trio’s mission is ‘risk-taking’ is an understatement. I do not know many musicians that would leave the comforts of the Western World to engage in the task of changing perception. Dr. Ramey and her colleagues are certainly succeeding at doing this very thing by utilizing their art to bring peace, to empower, and to unify.

–Notes by Senior Airman Jennifer M. Daffinee
Jennifer is a member of the United States Air Force Band of the West and is also finishing her DMA at the University of North Texas with Kimberly Cole Luevano.

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