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Square Stage
Leslie Damaso with Mr. Chair
Special Guest Sahada Buckely

February 26, 2022

7:30pm Collins Recital Hall

Sahada Buckley, violin

Leslie Damaso, vocals, kulintang, author, artist

Mr. Chair, arrangements

Ben Ferris, bass

Mark Hetzler, trombone

Mike Koszweski, percussion

Jason Kutz, piano



Sirena is a story that hearkens back to myth, set within contemporary arrangements of kundiman, songs of love and freedom from the Philipiines. A way of healing through the power of arts, music and language, this is an act of preservation and a celebration of the people and with the people who help us to live.

Ditagaunan Kulintang


Mutya Ng Pasig————

Dahil Sa Lyo——————

Ang Aking Bayan————

Nasaan Ka Irong—————

Bayan Ko————————

O Naraniag a Bulan——

Sa Kabukiran——————

Binalig, kulintang———

——————————————————————Traditional Maranao

—————————————————Bonifacio Abdon (1876-1944)

————————————————Nicanor Abelardo (1893-1934)

—————————————————Mike Velarde Jr.(1913-1986)

———————————————————————Nicanor Abelardo

——————————————————————Nicanor Abelardo

—————————————Constancio de Guzman (1903-1982)

————————————————————————IIocano Folk Song

——————————————————Manuel Velez (1920-2010)

——————————————————————Traditional Maranao


Click HERE to go to SOM page

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Leslie Damaso

Leslie Damaso is a Filipino-American singer, visual artist, poet, writer, teacher and business owner at Buttonhill Music Studio in the historic community in Mineral Point. Her work has been focused on themes of Asian American citizenship, the effects of colonialism, the individual’s sense of belonging, identity, intergenerational trauma and community. She recently performed for the launch of a website through the University of Maryland, aimed to teach Asian American history in K-12 education called “Filipino American Lives in DC, Maryland and Virginia”. In 2020, her video “Bayan Ko” with Madison based band, Mr. Chair, had its world premiere through FilAm Arts LA’s Festival of Philippine Arts & Culture. Her album, May Laya, a collection of kundiman art songs of the Philippines, recorded with Jason Kutz, received the 2019 Best World Album award from the Madison Area Music Association. She has performed locally, hosted by Tone Madison, Communication, Taliesin, the First Unitarian Society, the Madison World Music Festival and Overture Center for the Arts.

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Leslie’s poetry, essays and photography have been featured in numerous publications including the Driftless Writing Center’s Contours anthology and the 2nd edition of The Little

Book Project WI. For over a decade, she has written through Driftless Appetite blog and The Voice of the River Valley, celebrating the Driftless Region and its people.

She has partnered with Chicago chef, Eve Studnicka, for a pop-up dinner on the theme “Wisconsin-Filipino”. Their next collaboration will feature dishes from the music of Tom Waits. Leslie’s first solo art exhibit in 2019 included works in watercolor and pen with Baybayin (ancient Filipino script) and her calligraphy is featured in Surat, the first magazine in over fifty years to only use the ancient script.

Other upcoming projects will include her third album, a children’s book featuring a contemporary myth, a collection of poetry exploring her connection and disconnection in the states along with the indelible experiences from her childhood in the Philippines. Her music will be an accompaniment to a documentary called “Norte” by Cocoy Ventura, showcasing traditions in Luzon, the island where Leslie was born. She will also be part of a lesson on “Cultural Preservation and Adaptation” for Smithsonian Folkways.

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Mr. Chair looks like a jazz combo, enchants like a string quartet, and electrifies like a rock band, all while delighting listeners with their fresh and authentic sound. As classically-trained musicians well-versed in jazz, electronics, prog rock, world music and beyond, Mr. Chair is a contemporary fusion ensemble for music fans of all backgrounds.


Their compositions are long-form journeys – sometimes delicate and sweet, sometimes thrashing with unbridled energy and conviction. Their sound palette is diverse, and used to tell stories in styles cinematic, surreal, romantic, funky, whimsical, and always captivating. They perform original works as well as their own arrangements of iconic pieces from Stravinsky to Bach. Mr. Chair can fit any size room. They design acoustic shows for intimate cabaret settings all the way up to thrilling concert hall performances with full string orchestras.

One of Mr. Chair’s greatest qualities is an affinity for collaboration, both within the artistic world (with visual artists, poets, spoken word artists, and dancers) and well-outside (with scientists, brewers, and chocolatiers). Guests infuse Mr. Chair events with a vibrancy that ensures no two shows are ever alike.

Perhaps Mr. Chair’s most unique project is a multi-year partnership with UW-Madison Vilas Distinguished Professor of Geoscience, Dr. Stephen Meyers, and his “tadada Scientific Lab”. Together, they have reimagined science education with arts-integrated lectures on the UW-Madison campus featuring live demonstrations, exhilarating videos, and performance of commissioned music. The experiment continues as Mr. Chair and Stephen Meyers bring these interdisciplinary events to clubs and universities around the world.

Equally comfortable as educators, the members of Mr. Chair have conducted masterclasses with students from middle school to college on the topics of performance, composition, style, arranging, orchestration, interpretation, and the creative process.

Sahada Buckley

From Fairhope, Alabama, Sahada Buckley is a graduate of the University of Georgia with degrees in Music Theory and Violin Performance. She is now earning her Masters degree at University of Wisconsin-Madison studying with David Perry. She is a member of the Marvin Rabin String Quartet. She has attended festivals such as Meadowmount School of Music, Tanglewood BUTI, Montecito Music Festival, and Green Mountain Music Festival. In 2018, she performed as a soloist with the University of Georgia Symphony Orchestra after winning the 2018 UGASO Concerto Competition. In 2019, she through-hiked the Appalachian Trail with a violin on her backpack. Sahada plays with multiple groups exploring the possibilities of experimental improvisation. Two of her albums have been featured on Bandcamp Daily’s ‘Best Experimental Albums’ List. She spends her free time walking her dog, painting and attending concerts.

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