Musical Performance: Three Ouds: Arab, Greek and Armenian

Sat, October 27, 2007 9:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

(View all musical performances »)

Re-encounters Series

Admission: $15 ($10 for students with valid ID)


Ara Dinkjian

Mavrothi T. Kontanis

Zafer Tawil

The Instrument

Sultaan al-'alaat, the king of instruments, the oud remains the central instrument of many Maqam based music. Used in several musical traditions, and claimed to have had its origins in various parts of the Middle East thousands of years ago, the oud has evolved through the efforts of great musicians and luthiers, such as Ibrahim and Ishaq Al-Mawsili, Zamzam, and Ziryab, and crossed over to Al-Andalus, Moorish Spain, to beget the European lute in its many variations. Through the work of recent great musicians the oud became a prominent solo instrument, after being limited to composers and the accompaniment of singers.

The Music

Perhaps there are as many styles of playing the oud as there are oud players, yet the technique, timbre, tuning and ornamentation, as well as the role of the oud within an ensemble are affected by local and regional tastes and have been passed on as an esthetic system. Some of these techniques have travelled from one part of the world to another, but were often incorporated into local preferences. it is a fascinating idea to see how the same instrument was and is explored in different ways, which only keep extending its potential.

Three exceptional musicians, Arab, Armenian and Greek, all steeped in their individual traditions and personal expression, yet open to new ways, will each first play within their own style, then merge the three together to experience the tremendous potential of this instrument.

The Musicians

Ara Dinkjian was born in New Jersey, USA in 1958. He graduated Hartt College of Music, earning the country’s first and only special degree in the oud (ancient Middle Eastern fretless lute). With his group Night Ark he has recorded four CDs for RCA/BMG and PolyGram/Universal and has given concerts throughout the States, Europe, and the Middle East. His compositions have been recorded by top singers and musicians throughout the world in 13 different languages. In 2002, Dinkjian was chosen to represent Armenia in the First International Meeting Of The Oud in which twelve of the world’s top oud players gathered in Thessaloniki, Greece for three days of solo concerts, master classes, and exchange of information. His composition “Homecoming” (“Dynata, Dynata”) was performed at the closing ceremonies of the 2004 Athens Olympics. His latest CD, “An Armenian In America” was recorded live at the 2005 Jerusalem International Oud Festival. Ara Dinkjian continues to perform record, compose, and teach.

Mavrothi T. Kontanis was born in 1979 in Pennsylvania, USA, though his family’s origin is from Halkidiki, Greece. As a child, he showed interest in several instruments, including the clarinet, guitar, and bouzouki. However, at the age of 16 he discovered his true passion, the oud, and began lessons with his first teacher Stamatis Merzanis immediately. Since then he has studied with many other renowned masters including Münir N. Beken, Emin Gündüz, John Berberian, Kyriakos Kalaitzides, Dinçer Dalkilic, Yurdal Tokcan, and Ara Dinkjian. In addition to playing oud, Mavrothis has become an accomplished singer and violinist, and also enjoys teaching and writing. By combining his love for classical, urban, and folk music from Greece and the Near East, Mavrothis hopes to heighten awareness of the great beauty and freedom that exist within this unique and diverse musical tradition. Mavrothis has performed throughout the United States, Europe, and the Middle East playing traditional and classical music from all over the world, as well as original compositions of his own with various ensembles. He has been featured on several albums and the film soundtrack of “AmericanEast,” and is currently working on three specific recording projects that will showcase his musicianship and diverse musical interests.

Zafer Tawil is an accomplished Palestinian musician based in New York City. He is a virtuoso on oud, violin, and qanun, and a master of Arabic percussion. Zafer performs across the US and in the Middle East and holds workshops in oud technique and Arabic music theory. He was part of the Spirit of Fez Tour 2006 and has performed with some of the most celebrated world music artists, including violinist and oud master Simon Shaheen and rai singer Cheb Mami, as well as with Sting. Zafer is continuously exploring the boundaries of Arabic music, and has worked on many collaboration concerts involving classical Indian and Persian music and Jazz fusion.

Last updated: 2007-11-21 11:28:18

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