RUTH MARGRAFF ~ Accordion, Vocals, Lyrics, Piano/Organ/Keys. Now playing weddings, receptions, events, festivals and concert venues all over the Chicago region. Can play solo or as a duo with gypsy guitarist or as a full band adding upright contrabass and Middle Eastern hand percussion.
“Audaciously original” ~The Moscow Times (Russia)
“Brilliantly performed...layer after layer of richly textured emotion...with precision of cadence and inflection.” ~The Dallas Morning News (USA)
“Enchanting…intoxicating…a little masterpiece.” ~Arts Cure Magazine (NYC)
“Intricate and intriguing... this show kept us watching, kept us believing"~The Observatory (London, UK)
“Our wedding was everything we hoped and pictured over the past year. And Ruth, thank you and Nikos so much for playing for us. Your music was so perfect, and having you play alongside us created the perfect atmosphere for our day. I cannot tell you how much I loved seeing my nieces twirling in front of you. You were wonderful, and I'm so glad you were there, and I want you to know how thankful we are.” ~from a Gig Salad bride at Heritage Prairie Farm, June 2012 (greater Chicago area)
Ruth has performed throughout the USA, UK, Canada, Russia, Romania, Serbia, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Croatia, France, Sweden, Argentina, Nigeria, Japan, Egypt, India, Azerbaijan and she has been awarded numerous honors including 4 Rockefeller Foundation commissions in new opera, Jerome and McKnight Fellowship Commissions and Residencies, 2 NYSCA Individual Artist Awards, an NEA/TCG Fellowship and awards from TCG/ITI, Arts International, the Trust for Mutual Understanding, Illinois Arts Council individual project award, among others.
With composer Nikos Brisco, Ruth co-founded her CAF ANTARSIA ENSEMBLE for which she plays accordion and sings "nouveau gypsy" music with roots in Greek blues, Arabic percussion and Americana cabaret. With CAE she is writing a trilogy of working-class and gypsy operas: JUDGES 19: BLACK LUNG EXHALING, THREE GRACES and WELLSPRING: FOR THE TROUBADORS OF SARAJEVO. Nikos Brisco’s hauntingly urgent melodies are complemented by Ruth Margraff’s panoramic and portrait-driven lyrics and vocals, Rami El-Aasser’s exotic percussion and Ron Riley’s rock steady groove. CAE took their name from a Greek word “Antarsia” meaning “rebellious” in Astoria, NYC in 2002 and have been lately touring all over the world. Their stories will transport you to Sarajevo marketplaces and Dubrovnik fountains, or paint the darkness of Virginia coal mines and the timeless taverns of Crete. CAE’s first album is represented by Innova Records / American Composers Forum.
CAE has performed: Internationally: Azerbaijani National Theater and International Mugham Center (Baku, AZERBAIJAN), Bibliotheca Alexandrina International Summer Festival (Alexandria, EGYPT), Cairo Jazz Club (Cairo, EGYPT), Accidental Festival/Institute for Contemporary Arts (London, UK), Festivalul International de Teatru de la Sibiu Festival, National Theater of Cluj Euphorion Studio (Sibiu and Cluj-Napoca, ROMANIA); Novaja Drama Festival/Moscow Art Theatre/Golden Mask, Club B2 and Bolshoi Zal (Moscow, RUSSIA); BELEF/Beogradski Letnji Festival, Dah Teatar/Rex Centre (Belgrade, SERBIA); Festivale des Concerts a l'Anglicane Holy Trinity de Lakefield (Montreal, QUEBEC); Junction Arts Festival Centerstage (Toronto, ONTARIO), Karantena Performing Arts Festival (Dubrovnik, CROATIA); PreGlej Na Glas!/Wax Factory (Ljubljana, SLOVENIA); Artemovszk 38 Flagship/Danube River and Traf-Kortars Muveszetek Haza (Budapest, HUNGARY); Pšt Vlna-Next Wave Festival, Rock Caf Praha, Klub v Jeleni (Prague, CZECH REP); Skek Caf (Amsterdam, NL) Rebetiko Music Festival/Melina Mercouri Hall, Hydra International Arts Festival (Isle of Hydra, GREECE); Municipal Library for Mayor of Paros (Isle of Paros, GREECE); Finikas Taverna (Isle of Crete, GREECE); Aymakent, Hotel Uyan (Istanbul, TURKEY); etc.
Nationally: New York Gypsy Festival, Ice Factory Festival/3LD/Ohio Theater, Joe’s Pub, Galapagos, Brooklyn Academy of Music/BAM Caf, Mehanata/Bulgarian House of Gypsy, Prelude Festival/Martin Segal, Rockwood Music Hall, Culturemart/Here, Hourglass/Century Ballroom, New Dramatists, Zebulon Caf, Drom Gypsy Bar, Fat Baby Lounge, Mo Pitkins, Laguardia, Tribecca & St. Lawrence Performing Arts Centers; Chocolate Factory, Hellenic Festival, CB’s Gallery, PS122 (New York City); World Music Festival/Navy Pier, Viaduct Theater/HotHouse Center for International Performance, Trap Door, National Pasttime, Rhinofest, Gallery Cabaret, Uncommon Ground at Devon and at Clark, and Chicago Cultural Institute/Music Without Borders (Chicago), Club Dada, Kessler Theater, Trees, Jack’s Backyard, Barleyhouse Tavern, Undermain, All Good Caf, La Grange, Granada Theater (Dallas, TX), Salvage Vanguard Theater, Fronterafest, Antone’s Home of the Blues, Stubbs (Austin, TX); Hollins University, Studio Roanoke (Roanoke, Virginia); North American Cultural Laboratory Festival (Catskills, NY), Crossing Borders Live (Ithaca, NY), Gypsy Festival at Dano’s Heuriger on Seneca (Lodi, NY), House of Hamez (Rochester, NY), Soul Infusion (Sylva, North Carolina), Dilworth Playhouse (Charlotte, NC) Caf Parizade Summer Concert Series (Durham, NC) Artomatic Arts Extravaganza (Washington DC), Iowa Playwrights Theater B (Iowa City), Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park (Cincinnati, Ohio) with awards from American Composers Forum, TCG/International Theater Institute, Trust for Mutual Understanding of New York, Arts International, JPMorgan Grant for Small Ensembles, Meet the Composer Global Connections, Fulbright Foundation: New Opera Award (Athens, Thessaloniki, Paros & Crete, GREECE), etc.
Ruth’s lyrics and libretti are published by Innova Records, Autonomedia, Dramatists Play Service, American Theatre, Theater Forum, Performing Arts Journal, Playscripts, Inc., Kendall/Hunt, The Drama Review, Conjunctions, New Village Press, etc. Ruth studied accordion and voice with Romani "gypsies" from the Gourbeti tribe at the Amala School in Valjevo, Serbia and with maestro Svetozar Djula Milosavljevic in Chicago. www.RuthMargraff.com