Musical Performance: Gaida & The ILHAM Ensemble

Fri, October 16, 2009 9:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

(View all musical performances »)

GAIDA & The ILHAM Ensemble


Anwar Diab Agha, violin/oud
Rufus Cappadocia, cello
Amir ElSaffar, trumpet

Doors open at 8:30

Tickets: $15.00, available at the door and online here (a $1.00 fee is added - use printout as your ticket):

* * * * *

Gaida is joined by her band ILHAM (meaning "inspiration"), performing both original compositions and classic Arab songs with innovative arrangements, placing an emphasis on improvisation that transcends conventional boundaries.


About the Musicians:

Gaida is a vocalist and songwriter working at the intersection of the New York Arab and improvised music scenes. Her compositions draw at once on classical Arabic song, Syrian folk traditions, and free improvisations that expand on traditional Arabic maqams (modes) to produce an original and highly personal style marked by great emotional intensity. Gaida has recorded for major motion pictures, including Jonathan Demme’s films, Rachel Getting Married and Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains. Her debut CD, Levantine Indulgence was released in winter of 2009.

Born in 1947 in Damascus, oudist/violinist Anwar Diab Agha has performed throughout the Middle East and Europe with Sabah Fakhri, Mayada Hinawi, and Firqat Umayya. He has been a member of the National Television and Radio Orchestra in Damascus since 1969, and has accompanied some of the Arab world’s most famous singers, including Fairouz, Sabah, and Wadi al-Safi. He is also renowned as a composer, whose works have been performed by many contemporary Arabic singers. He is currently the leader of Firqat al-Anwar in Damascus.

Rufus Cappadocia has built a solid reputation as one of the most innovative and versatile cellists, performing at well-known venues and music festivals throughout Europe and North America. Playing on a self-designed five string cello that combines an extended technique of the bass and cello, he is able to function as both a lead and rhythm section instrument. He has honed his distinct musical voice into a form of playing that combines near eastern music with groove, blues and jazz sensibilities.

Amir ElSaffar, trumpeter, composer, singer, and santoor player, is garnering an international reputation for his work, both in the traditional Iraqi Maqam and in jazz music. Raised in an Iraqi-American home in Chicago, Illinois, Amir was influenced by an array of musical styles, including Classical, Rock, Jazz, Blues, Arabic classical and folk music and the Iraqi Maqam. Amir has developed a new approach to playing the trumpet, which utilizes the microtuning and ornaments that are characteristic to Arabic music. In addition, he is one of the few in the world that has mastered the Iraqi Maqam, both on the santoor (Iraqi hammered-dulcimer) and as a vocalist.

What critics have said about Gaida:

"Gaida’s forthcoming CD, Levantine Indulgence, a song sequence of alluring beauty, is steeped in the traditional music of her Syrian heritage, but also shows the eclectic worldview of a New York singer-songwriter." -David R. Adler, Timeout New York

"[Gaida]'s improvised incantatory lines as an accomplished jazz vocalist might have done… [her] plaintive, gauzy vocals effectively disarmed listeners” -Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune

Last updated: 2009-10-12 00:22:29

Gaida, with ILHAM
Gaida, with ILHAM

Alwan for the Arts

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

Alwan Auction 2016

Join Our Mailing List:



Classes are currently being scheduled. Please check back soon for updates.



There are currently no upcoming events.


16 Beaver Street
4th Floor
New York, NY 10004
(646) 732 3261
Email Us

Alwan for the Arts is accessible to people with disabilities. Please call 646 732 3261 in advance, or, buzz at the door to arrange a ramp.

© 2020 Alwan for the Arts

Hosting donated by:, the Arabic Encyclopedia