Musical Performance: Tarab: Sufi Chants and Church Hymns

Sat, September 13, 2008 9:30 pm at Alwan for the Arts

(View all musical performances »)

The Third Annual Alwan Festival of Sacred Music

$15 ($10 Students with valid ID)

House opens 9:00 PM

Tarab and George Ziadeh

Sufi Chants and Church Hymns


Guest Artist

George Ziadeh (Vocals, Oud)

and members of the Tarab Ensemble

Taoufiq Ben Amor (Vocals, Oud, Percussion)

Johnny Farraj (Percussion, Vocals)

Zafer Tawil (Violin, Oud, Percussion, Vocals)

The Music:

Hybridity is the rule. Despite the classification of Arab Music along separate, independent styles, regions and faiths, it is based on the same maqam system and tradition of performance, phrasing, embellishment and rhythms. The notion of Tarab, catharsis or ecstacy felt under the effect of music, is central to all forms of Arab music. Tarab can be found in the mosque, church and temple, as well as in profane environments. None of these musical expressions is "pure" or clear of other influences. Arab Church music is influenced by the Byzantine tradition, but it is not uncommon to hear Sufi chants on Byzantine scales, nor is it rare to hear a Christian cantor begin with the same maqam used to open Qur'anic recitation. This hybridity crosses over to lyrics, where Sufi chants celebrate the Virgin Mary and the story of the birth of Christ.

Tarab and George Ziadeh celebrate this hybridity by presenting a concerts of Sufi chants and Christian hymns, which demonstrate these connections.

The Musicians:

George Ziadeh

George was born in Birzeit, Palestine, and pursued music from a young age. In 1986 he moved to the United States, where he has studied oud with Simon Shaheen and classical singing and voice with Youssef Kassab. George is considered an authority in maqam and Arab classical repertoire.


Tarab, founded in 1998, is a group of New York-based musicians who focus on studying and performing the classical Arabic repertoire, instrumental (with such genres as samai, lunga, dulab) and vocal, with special emphasis on the Andalusi Muwashah and Sufi repertoire. The ensemble also explores traditional folk music from various regions of the Arab world. Importance is given to improvisation, both vocal and instrumental, to allow each musician to explore the maqamat, or scales. The sets performed are generally in the form of a wasla, which is a suite of several pieces all sharing the same maqam. Since its foundation, Tarab has performed at several venues and festivals, such as Symphony Space, The Great Hall at Cooper Union, The Joseph Papp Theater, Bowery Ballroom, The Balkan Music Festival, Club Passim, York University Toronto and The University of Michigan. Tarab also composed soundtracks for two documentaries and one play.

This event is made possible in part by a generous grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

Last updated: 2008-08-28 22:35:04

Tapis by Nja Mahdaoui
Tapis by Nja Mahdaoui

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