Undeterred by such inanities, Golden Thread Productions’ annual International Women’s Day Celebration on Saturday, Mar. 12 at the La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley -- titled What do the Women Say? -- tackles the question in a much more spiritual and creative way.
Previous iterations of this one-day festival devoted, since 2011, to exploring the work of Middle Eastern women artists have focused on such themes as activism, sex and sexuality, and female solo performers. This year, the topic is Bay Area women artists who build community through their art.
"The women featured are accomplished artists renowned for the excellence of their artistry," says Golden Thread founding artistic director Torange Yeghiazarian. "But they are also leaders, who have founded important organizations, trained and championed other artists, and worked endlessly to celebrate and preserve culture and history for Middle Eastern immigrant communities in the Bay Area. This is a community that faces growing hostility and has to battle common misconceptions of the well-intended. These artists choose to lift up their community through their art, and document our existence as an immigrant community that has voice and matters."
At the centerpiece of the event is a concert by The Aswat Ensemble, one of the jewels the Bay Area music landscape. The group’s sweet spot is songs from the Arab world, old and new, performed on traditional musical instruments like the qanun (trapezoidal zither), ‘oud (lute), and nay (reed flute). They have terrific singers too.