Special Event: TARAB EDITION

Sun, January 17, 2016 4:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Alwan for the Arts presents:



George Ziadeh & Zafer Tawil duo -- Music of Umm Kulthum

Safaafir -- Iraqi Maqam and Pesta

Tareq Abboushi -- Solo Buzuq improvisations

Yousif Yaseen -- Contemporary and traditional Kuwaiti songs

Abdulrahman Al Akhfash -- Songs of Yemen

Alwan Ensemble -- Classics from Aleppo, Baghdad, and Cairo

TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE (a small on-line fee is applied)

$30 General Admission, $25 for Students, Seniors and Members

Doors open at 3:30 pm

Alwan for the Arts debuts Tarab Edition – an evening of musical renditions demonstrating diverse instrumental, rhythmic and vocal techniques that vivify different regions of the Arab world. The musical styles featured are varied yet intimate and contemplative; all are unified under the aegis of the Maqam model system, a system whose essentialist element, or logos, strives to adhere, seamlessly, to the brilliance, miraculous and pure eloquence of the Arabic language. The range of readings includethe Syrian Muwashah, Iraqi Maqam, Kuwaiti Sawt, Homayni songs from Yemen, and 20th century Egyptian compositions made once alive in the memorable vocal experience and enduring interpretive resonance of the legendary Umm Kulthum.


Abdulrahman Al Akhfash, an oud player and vocalist, hails from a line of musicians steeped in the Yemeni musical tradition. Over the past 20 years, Al Akfash has contributed significantly to the natural development and enrichment of the Sanani repertoire. His mix of traditional Yemeni music recordings and his own compositions have made him popular across Yemen and have built a bridge between different cultures. His performance style embodies the Yemeni tradition consisting of a solo singer with 'oud accompaniment and percussions highlighting rhythms in subtly expressive and poetic ways.

Amir ElSaffar is an Iraqi-American trumpeter, santur player, vocalist, and composer. Amir has mastered disparate musical styles and a singular approach to combining aspects of Middle Eastern music with American jazz, extending the boundaries of each tradition. A skilled jazz trumpeter with a classical background, Amir has created new techniques to play microtones and ornaments that are idiomatic to Arabic music but not typically heard on trumpet. He is an acknowledged performer of the classical Iraqi maqam tradition, and performs actively in the US, Europe and the Middle East as a vocalist and santur player. As a composer, ElSaffar has used the microtones found in maqam music to create a unique approach to harmony and melody, establishing an important voice in an age of cross-cultural music making.

Dena ElSaffar began learning the violin at the age of six. At age 17, completely engaged in classical music, she accompanied her father to Baghdad and became enchanted by the music of Iraq and the Middle East. In 1993, she founded the group Salaam, a Middle Eastern music ensemble at Indiana University, while studying classical music. She studied with Hamid Al-Saadi, Munis Sharifov, Mohammed Gomar and Anwar Abudragh, and has performed with the Master Musicians of Jajouka as well as Youssou N'dour. Dena plays the viola, violin, joza and kemanche and has performed with Central Eurasian ensembles, salsa groups, bluegrass, blues and rock bands.

George Ziadeh, born in Palestine, pursued music from a young age. After moving to the United States in 1986, he studied 'oud with Simon Shaheen and classical singing and voice with Youssef Kassab. George has performed as a soloist and as a member of various ensembles including the Alwan Arab Music Ensemble. He also lectures annually at the Columbia University Department of Ethnomusicology and has taught at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Ramallah and Birzeit University (1995-1997). In 2008, he was a featured soloist and ensemble performer in the Brooklyn Maqam Festival of Arab Music. George is an authority on maqam theory and Arab classical repertoire.

Tareq Abboushi began playing the buzuq in 1997, starting at the National Conservatory of Music in Palestine. He has performed in the United States and internationally with renowned musicians such as Simon Shaheen, David Brosa, Omar Farouk Tekbilek, and Grammy-Award-Winner Dan Zanes. Abboushi's discography includes Amir ElSaffar's acclaimed "Two Rivers," and appearances on three albums with Dan Zanes: "Parades and Panoramas," "House Party" and "Night Time!" (Winner of "Best children's CD of the year" by Tareq has composed and performed music for the award-winning film "Chicken Heads" (best short film, 2010 Dubai Film Festival). Other film scores include the award-winning soundtrack for the film "Encounter Point" (best musical score, 2006 Bend Film Festival), "Man From Plains" (2007) and the Oscar-nominated "Rachel Getting Married" (2008), the last two directed by Jonathan Demme. Tareq earned a B.M. in Jazz Piano Performance from William Paterson University.

A deep fascination in the phenomenon of synthesized Bedouin “Shelat” music led Yousif Yaseen, Kuwaiti composer, guitarist and vocalist, to explore traditional Kuwaiti/Bahraini "Sout" melodies within the context of a novel, yet subtle harmonic framework, primarily executed on a modified guitar. An eclectic musician and avid experimenter, Yousif has played the roles of songwriter,arranger,electronic musician, electric oudist,short film scorer and producer. He graduated with honors from Berklee College of Music and was mentored by Simon Shaheen. His debut album, “Visions”, will be released in February 2016.

Zafer Tawil is a virtuoso on ‘oud, violin, and qanun and a master of Arab percussion. He has performed nationally, including performances with ranging from Sting to Arab music virtuosos Cheb Mami, Simon Shaheen, Bassam Saba and George Ziadeh, to avant-garde composer/ performer Elliot Sharpe. Zafer was a featured composer and performer in acclaimed director Jonathan Demme's Oscar-nominated film Rachel Getting Married and Zeitoun, based on Dave Eggers’ book about Abdulrahman Zeitoun’s post-Hurricane Katrina odyssey. Zafer has worked on many collaborative concerts involving classical Indian and Persian music, Arabic/jazz fusion, and Arabic music at many institutions and universities across the United States. A native of Jerusalem, Palestine, he resides in New York City.

The Alwan Ensemble delivers a joyful and transportingrange of classical songs from the Arab World built around textures of rhythmic andimprovisational intensity. In the classical art music traditions of Cairo, Aleppo, and Baghdad, three important Arab cities with great legacies in art and culture, each with a unique repertory with distinct characteristics, rules, and aesthetics: the dawr andqasida of Cairo; the Andalusian muwashshahat of Aleppo; and al-maqam al-Iraqi of Baghdad. Yet all adhere to the maqam and place great importanceon poetry and the vocal melody sung by a soloist or a chorus, and is accompanied by an ensemble oftraditional instruments, including the oud (lute), qanun (zither), nay (flute), violin, santur (hammereddulcimer), riqq (tambourine), and tabla (goblet drum).

Contemporary masters of a broad range of Arab musical idioms display their sensibilities and impressive technique across a diverse array of musical selections from regional folk songs to masterpieces of Egyptian cinema and Arab concert hall culture. The Alwan Ensemble is Amir ElSaffar (santur, vocal, trumpet), Tareq Abboushi (buzuq), George Ziadeh (oud and vocals) and Zafer Tawil (qanun and percussion).

Safaafir, led by Dena and Amir ElSaffar, American-born siblings of Iraqi descent, is the only US-based ensemble dedicated to performing the classical, vocal tradition of Iraqi maqam. Safaafir is a name that evokes the ancient art of copper-smithing in Iraq. Soug al-Safaafir, or the coppersmiths’ market, is a well-known market in Baghdad, memorable for the din of hammers on copper and the glowing beauty of each creation. The sound of the Iraqi Maqam has often been likened to the Soug al-Safaafir for the metallic timbre of the instruments and the percussive hammering of the ancient rhythms. Since its inception in late 2005, Safaafir has performed throughout the US in concert halls, museums, universities and private parties.

Last updated: 2016-01-07 20:09:39

Abdulrahman Al Akhfash
Abdulrahman Al Akhfash
Tareq Abboushi
Tareq Abboushi
George Ziadeh
George Ziadeh
Zafer Tawil
Zafer Tawil
Alwan Ensemble
Alwan Ensemble
Yousif Yaseen
Yousif Yaseen

Alwan for the Arts

16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor
(between Broad St. and Broadway)
New York, NY 10004
(646) 732-3261

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