Worlds of Music is an organization that brings varied cultural experiences, mostly through the vehicle of music, to the people of rural Wyoming. Programs all have public components. We usually include the schools and the senior center as well as other public spaces.
Worlds of Music
We are a non-profit providing projects at free or minimal cost to the public. We rely on individual donations, grants and are grateful to the Johnson County Recreation District board, the Wyoming Arts Council, the Wyoming Humanities Council, the Wyoming Cultural Trust, the Johnson County School District and the Johnson County Arts and Humanities Council for their support. Other supporters include The HF Bar Guest Ranch, the Occidental Hotel, and the Knowledge Company. And thank you to the individuals who have donated their time and money throughout the years.
Worlds of Music is a not for profit foundation whose mission is to promote community development through music. Worlds of Music programs emphasize participation over performance and strive to bring together schools and communities. Since 1995 the program has conducted programs in the schools of Buffalo, Kaycee, Gillette, and Casper and has been a partner in programs in Laramie and Sheridan. Programs to date include:
• Senegalese Drum Traditions with John Galm
• Australian Aboriginal and settler story, song, and dance with Paul
• The music and dance of Hispanic New Mexico and of Appalachia with
Karen Leigh, Paul Rangell, Tom Adler, and Dan Warrick
• The music of Quebec, the Canadian Maritimes and New England with
The Hillbillies from Mars
• The Balinese Gamelan Tradition with Chandra Wyoga Gamelan and
• Nigerian drum and dance with Adetunji Joda and Friends
• New England contra dance with Wild Asparagus
• Traditional music of Slovakia with Bernard Garaj, Daniel Jezik, and
• Cowboy ballads of the American West with Pop Wagner
• The Jali tradition of Mali with kora master Morro Farang Suso
• Cuban and Central European choral music with Daniel Steinberg
• The Manas epic and traditional music of Kyrgyzstan with Rysbai
Isakov and Akylbek Kasabolotov
• Basque trikitixa music with the Tapia eta Leturia Band
• Old Style Cajun and Creole fiddling with Al Berard and Karen England
• Cajun dance hall music with Al Berard and Kyle Hebert
• European art music with the University of Wyoming String Quartet
• Klezmer, the celebratory music of the Eastern European Jewish
community, with Veretski Pass
• Steel drum and carnival music of Trinidad with Tom Miller
• Body percussion and dance with Human Rhythm Project dancer Sandy
• American swing and jazz fiddling with the Howard Armstrong Trio
• Renaissance and Baroque flute and guitar with Komodore and
• Traditional Mongolian music with morin khuur master Ariunbold
• Australian Aboriginal music and art with Wardaman elder
Yidumduma Bill Harney
New England contra dance with Rodney and Elvie Miller and caller
• Trinidadian steel drum music with Tom Miller
• Savoy Family Cajun Band
• La Taifas Quartet (Traditional Moldovan music)
• New Orleans Second Line and Zydeco with Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots
• Balkan influenced brass and woodwind music with Orkestar Zirkonium
We are honored to have brought prominent traditional musicians to Wyoming. These include two Grammy Award recipients; New Mexico, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Wyoming Governor’s Award for the Arts recipients; three National Heritage Awards recipients; and a winner of the Louisiana French Music Association’s Fiddler of the Year Award. Worlds of Music founder David Romtvedt received the 2000 Wyoming Governor’s Arts award and the 2008 Wyoming Music Educator Association’s Distinguished Service Award. We’re proud of these awards but more important is the mission of bringing in people whose music is as much a way of looking at life as it is sound. Worldwide, music has been a vehicle for shaping happier, fuller lives. Music can break down the barriers between the young and old and help people understand one another. This understanding comes about not so much through concerts as through participation--demonstrations, dances, workshops, and informal talks. Every Worlds of Music guest has met students in Buffalo’s three public schools (k-12) and engaged those students in active music making. Worlds of Music guests have also worked with students in Kaycee, Casper, Gillette, and Laramie. Local students have given public performances with the visiting musicians.
Many of the guests have offered free workshops for both students and community members. Sometimes these workshops were geared to people with pre-existing knowledge of the music culture under discussion as was the case for the American musics that use fiddle, piano, mandolin, button accordion, guitar, banjo, and voice. In other cases, the workshops were introductions to new musics and cultures. This was true of the dance programs and of the Balinese, Malian, and Nigerian programs. At the Balinese workshop, twenty-five people were able to spend two days playing gamelan instruments, and learning something about Balinese culture. The Nigerians taught a dance workshop for a mixed group of fifty students and adults. Malian kora player Morro Suso helped local banjo players learn something of the banjo’s African heritage and also brought several koras for use in workshops. At all three workshops—gamelan, kora, and Nigerian dance--the music was presented in the spiritual framework of its homeland. Workshop participants got a feel for the ways in which the spiritual values of a place are both reflected in the music and shape that music.
In addition to organizing school and public programs, Worlds of Music founder David Romtvedt has produced and hosted an hour long weekly radio program that was aired throughout Montana and northern Wyoming on KBBS radio in Buffalo, Wyoming and KEMC, Yellowstone Public radio in Billings, Montana. Romtvedt also did field research in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and North Carolina and script writing for a six part radio series on American Traditional Musics that was produced with Mike Brown at the University of Wyoming and aired on public radio affiliates KUNM (Albuquerque, NM), KEMC (Billings, MT) and KUWR (Laramie, WY) as well as on stations affiliated with the Association of Community Broadcasters. The radio series included programs on Cajun music, Hispanic music of northern New Mexico, waila music of the Tohono O’odham nation in Southern Arizona, Black String band music of the North Carolina Piedmont, and on political issues surrounding the performance of traditional musics in the United States. The last two programs were completed during 2007 and aired in December of 2007 and January of 2008.
Worlds of Music has developed two school and community based ensembles open to the public at no charge. One of these is a Trinidadian style steel drum band and the other is a European style concert band. Worlds of Music has raised the funds to purchase the steel drum instruments and many of the more expensive instruments used in American concert bands—tubas, bass clarinets, baritone saxophones, and tympani. Steel drum is now offered as a class at Buffalo High School using the Worlds of Music equipment at no charge to the school. The Worlds of Music pans have also been used to develop a class at the University of Wyoming focused on music and politics in Trinidad. There is also a community based steel drum group called Pan Buffalo and a community concert band. the steel drum band has performed at no charge for a variety of community events including St Luke’s Episcopal Church’s fall celebration, the North American Basque Organization’s national festival, the Buffalo Christmas parade, and the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce’s summer luau fundraiser.
Whether they are school or community events, workshops, dances, talks, radio shows, or community ensembles, Worlds of Music programs explore a number of related questions. What does music mean to people? Why do they listen to, dance to, and perform certain musics, and not others? What is the role of music in individual and community life? How does music change over time and across cultures? Above all, Worlds of Music examines the ways that music is unique to particular communities while remaining a universal human phenomenon. All of these things are directly related to the Worlds of Music mission and they comprise one hundred percent of our time. Our work is funded by private donations, by grants from public agencies (the Wyoming Arts Council and Wyoming Humanities Council), and by foundation gifts.