2018-19 Cedar Commissions Artists Announced


The Cedar Cultural Center is pleased to announce the recipients of the eighth round of the Cedar Commissions, The Cedar’s flagship commissioning program for emerging artists made possible by a grant from the Jerome Foundation. To date, the series has supported the creation of new music by more than 50 artists across genres.

The 2018-19 round of artists was selected by a committee of Minnesota-based musicians and music industry professionals. The 6 commissioned artists, Antoine Martinneau, Brianna Lane, Jo Kellen, Kashimana Ahua, Lula Saleh and Tarek Abdelqader will each receive $4,500 to compose at least 30 minutes of new musical work to debut at The Cedar in February 2019.


Antoine Martinneau

Local musician Antoine Martinneau will compose and perform a piece named On Love and Labor. Using his love of hip-hop as inspiration, the piece reflects on his emotional relationship to making a living. Combining live instrumentation, turntables and spoken rhymes, he will tell a story filled with ups and downs with beats to bob your head to. Expect a wide range of sound from fuzzed out bass guitar, to classic old school, to straight trap.


Brianna Lane

Awareness Month is a contemporary musical theater piece illustrating life with invisible chronic illness. This piece will take the audience through one months time living with chronic Lyme, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), depression, and anxiety. This piece will bring to light what we don't see from people living with invisible chronic illness and how compassion is key.  "Be kind for everyone is fighting a hard battle," Ian Maclaren


Jo Kellen

Jo Kellen’s multimedia song cycle Serious Glee combines music, puppetry, and projections to explore the contradictions of identity. With the help of percussionist Toby Ramaswamy and cellist Hilary James, Kellen’s compositions will come to genre-bending fruition, sliding from freak folk to dance punk to chamber pop. Tack on Max Kollman’s venue-covering projection design along with Leah Nelson’s puppeteering and you have the colorful parade of Serious Glee. This song cycle will push its artists and audience to look inside the dense tapestries of themselves and have fun doing it.

Kashimana Ahua

In Actually, It’s Ten Months, composer and singer Kashimana Ahua will create ten songs exploring the misconceptions surrounding pregnancy, revealing the challenges of becoming a mother while shedding a light on the increasing maternal and infant mortality rate in the United States, especially among women of color. Featuring music written for five voices, lightly supported by percussion and bass, Actually, It’s Ten Months exposes the true trials of conception, pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum depression, recovery, the first few months of life, and the glorious epiphany that everything is different.


Lula Saleh

Singer-songwriter, poet and healer Lula Saleh will compose a new body of work influenced by the “tizita” aesthetic, an Amharic word meaning reminiscence, nostalgia, and loss. In her piece, live instrumentation will fuse with original singing and poetry, samples of iconic Ethiopian/Eritrean rhythms, neosoul, electronic synths, African-Arab-inspired vocal sentiments and more. Borrowing from Lula’s multi-ethnic, third culture kid upbringing as a diasporic Saudi-born African, and an Eritrean-Ethiopian American, her live set will be a soundscape memoir of her immigrant experience, raising awareness of issues impacting global African diaspora communities.

Tarek Abdelqader

In Authenticity and Identity, Tarek Abdelqader will present a fusion of Palestinian folk music and contemporary jazz. Inspired by a mixed cultural heritage and diverse musical influences, Abdelqader’s performance will blend instrumentation to include Middle Eastern percussion and saxophone with a standard jazz rhythm section of guitar, bass, drum set, and keyboard. These compositions will avoid strict adherence to a single, homogenous tradition. Instead, they will aim to show that distinct cultural identities – and musical styles – can coexist in harmony.