Stone Forest Ensemble & Kitchie Nadal

 

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In 2004 I met an intriguing character in Union Square. I could tell by the way he was dressed, he was a hip hop head, playing classical violin. His sound was very much what I was looking for after finishing my compilation album, “Crossing the Jordan“, so after giving him a copy in an interest just to collaborate on a song or two, Jie-Song Zhang and I formed and lead the Stone Forest Ensemble.

 

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Through the years, with a transitioning team of different members from all over the world —U.S., China, Sri Lanka, Russia and Japan, we blessed audiences all over with an unheard-of sound by combining classical strings with beatbox and percussion. SFE’s sound stands apart with Electric violin, cello, djembe/derbouka, and beatboxing, along with freestyle rhyming when Jie would but the violin down and pick up the mic. Pipa (Chinese lute), and Japanese flutes were also incorporated at times.

 

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I played a variation of African and Middle Eastern drums & percussion, with the occasional spoken-word poetry over music. The core members of the group are, Jie-Song Zhang (founder) —Electric Violin & Freestyle Rhyming, Chesney Snow —beatbox, Varuni Tiruchelvam —cello, and Krussia —beatbox.

 

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Performances included the Orpheum Theatre (LA), the Toronto Centre for the Arts, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OR), Aix en Provence (South of France), and many venues in New York including The Metropolitan Pavilion, The Supper Club, Cipriani Ballroom, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, the National Black Writer’s Conference, (BK) the Queens Museum of Fine Art, the Chinese New Year Parade, SOBs, Santos Party House, the Nuyorican Poet’s Café, Le Poisson Rouge, every major college in NY and more up and down the east coast,  etc…

 

 

Along the way, one of the most exciting series of events was playing for Kollaboration. We took first place at Kollaboration NY in 2006, second at Kollaboration Toronto in 2007, and second at Kollaboration LA in 2008.

 

 

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Group bio & interviews:

 

In 2009, A notable performance was the Plate by Plate Food Tasting for Project by Project

SFE were honored performers at the annual Plate by Plate food tasting, featured on season 2 of Top Chef. This event was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion. Guests included legendary television journalist Connie Chung, Jenna Ushkowitz of “Glee”, Sandra Endo of CNN, Miss Info of Hot 97, Julie Chang of Fox 5, Vivian Lee – NY1 anchor, and others…

 

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This event also landed SFE coverage in SingTao Daily, the Hong Kong based newspaper distributed in over 100 countries worldwide, about the Stone Forest Ensemble and the cultural depth of the group’s work.

 

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SFE did many benefit shows to help different causes, including community events in the Low East Side Projects, fundraisers for Night Light (a ministry in Bangkok that fights human trafficking), World Vision and the West African Water Initiative, the Red Cross after the earthquake in Haiti, and The Asian American Federation of New York Gala at the Cipriani Ballroom on Wall Street.

 

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In the summer of 2011, SFE collaborated with Open Project, to team up with a group of modern dancers and put on a series of shows in Southern France. The dancers pieces were specifically choreographed to our music. On this trip I also exhibited and sold paintings at these shows.

 

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Kitchie Nadal 

After meeting and performing with multi-award winning and double-platinum singer from the Philippines, Kitchie Nadal, in 2010, I introduced her to SFE and we collaborated on what became the title track to her 4th album, Malaya (Tagalog for “Freedom”) released by 12 Stone Records and Universal Records in the Philippines.



 

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This song was also featured in Kitchie’s acting debut: the CineFilipino award-winning independent film,
“The Muses” directed by Janice Perez.

 

Malaya Flyer

A download of the song can be purchased on itunes
(note: track 9 titled “Malaya Remix”)

 

From 2010 to 2013, I recorded and toured with Kitchie in the U.S., Canada, Kuwait, and the Philippines, selling the t-shirts I designed for her. During the two trips I spent in Manila, I also worked on a series of paintings and murals, as well as helped out with ROAR, the outreach ministry Kitchie founded to help feed and mentor street kids in Manila.

 

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T-Shirts I designed and sold on tour:

Kitchie Caracature

 

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While continuing our artistic and personal growth, our time recording together with my good friend and now production partner, Jonathan Cunard, turned into a new outlet. Kitchie played an integral role in helping start my most current recording project MAS.