Musicians deliver message of peace

Topanga resident Suzanne Teng will perform with Mystic Journey Sept. 24 at the Ford Amphitheatre. Photo courtesy of Suzanne Teng

Musicians from around the world perform in Los Angeles’ largest music festival, celebrating peace.

By Austen Tate / Special to The Malibu Times

“Music is the vehicle to all walks of life,” says Hani Naser, percussionist and vocalist of the Hani Naser band.

Like all musicians and volunteers involved in the effort for world peace in the 6th annual World Festival of Sacred Music 2005, originally initiated by the Dalai Lama, Naser said he believes in the power of peace and that peace is “everything that allows her and her society to bring together … brothers and sisters.”

This Sunday, Naser and his band will gather with Sufi and Tibetan singers, Balinese dancers, Flamenco musicians and more at the Topanga Community House and sacred Chumash grounds for the “Sounds of the Sacred, Songs of the Earth” festival and concert, presented by the Living Wellness Foundation. The event is one of many concerts and festivals taking place throughout Los Angeles as part of the World Festival of Sacred Music, beginning on the harvest moon on Sept. 17 and continuing through Oct. 2. The 16-day, 43-event festival is the largest musical festival in Los Angeles featuring international and local artists promoting “peace, tolerance and universal responsibility,” according to organizers.

“The World Festival of Sacred Music comes out with good intentions and global understanding of brothers and sisters,” said flutist Suzanne Teng of the group, Mystic Journey, which will perform at the Ford Amphitheatre on Sept. 24 in the Alchemy of Dream Levantine Festival 2, part of the world festival.

Teng, who was named the Independent Music Awards Best New Age Artist in 2004, is a local Topangan and participant of the world festival since its inception in 1999. Her husband, Gilbert Levy, a percussionist, is also a member of Mystic Journey.

“Music is our life’s passion,” said Teng, who is also a teacher, dancer, percussionist and composer.

Performing with Teng and Levy will be special guest singer Prince Diabaté, as well as Fritz Heede on flamenco guitar, Barry Newton on string bass, Guinean master balafonist Djelimady, Celtic harp player Bobbie Jo Curley and other special singers from Africa and Syria.

Percussionist Naser has played with the likes of Ben Harper, David Lindley, Ry Cooder and Don Henley to name a few. Naser’s main instrument is the oud (predecessor to the guitar) and he is considered a master in his field. Randy Lewis of the Los Angeles Times called him a “veritable hand drum wizard.”

The Hani Naser band members include Craig Eastman of the U.S. on the violin and other instruments, Armand Sabal-Lecco, a bassist, composer and singer from Cameroon, and drummer Walfredo Reyes Jr. from Cuba.

Also slated to perform at the Topanga festival is Spanish Flamenco dancer and pianist Pedro Ricardo Miño.

Miño was born into a family of renowned flamenco artists in Sevilla, the heartland of the flamenco culture. With his guitarist father, Ricardo Miño, as his teacher and his dancer mother, Pepa Montes, nourishing his spirit, he began playing piano at the age of four.

He has toured and played in various prestigious theaters in Spain, such as the Teatro Manuel de Falla de Cadiz, Gran Teatro de Cordoba and the Noches de la Villa de Madrid, to name a few. He has toured parts of Europe and the United States as a soloist and with his parents’ company, “Flamenco en Concierto.”

Other artists who will perform Sunday include Sufi ney master Omar Faruk Tekbilek, 76-year-old Kunzang Rinpoche with the monks and nuns of Zangdokpalri, and Marla Leigh, Richard Grossman, Stefani Valadez and John Densmore of Tribal Jazz.

The Topanga festival takes place Sept. 18, from noon until 10 p.m. Food and family festival will take place during the day. Concerts begin at 6 p.m. 1440 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. Information and tickets can be obtained by calling 866.384.3060 or 310.455.2765 or at the Web site or

Tickets for the Alchemy of Dreams concert can be obtained by calling 323.461.3673 or at the web site The concert begins at 8 p.m. 2580 E. Cahuenga Blvd. Hollywood.

More information on World Festival of Sacred Music events and to purchase tickets for citywide events can be found at the Web site, www.festivalofsacred