Musical Performance: Alwan Festival of Sacred Music presents Naji Youssef: Melkite & Maronite Hymns and Chants

Sat, February 26, 2011 9:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Naji Youssef, Vocalist


Maurice Chedid
, Oud
Kareem Youssef, Vocals

A master of expressive vocal ornamentation, Naji Youssef’s voice is reminiscent of the Lebanese jabali (mountain) style exemplified by such masters as Wadi’ Assafi. In tonight's performance, the Lebanese-born tenor and cantor performs the traditional chants and hymns of the Byzantine Catholic Melkite and Maronite liturgy.


Regular: $20, available online here.
Student/Senior/Member: $15, available online here.

A small surcharge is applied to each online ticket; use printout as your proof of purchase. Tickets are also available at the door. Doors open at 8:30 p.m.

Listen to Naji Youssef here.

About the Artists

“Naji Youssef, a Lebanese singer who came to the United States in 1988, sang long-breathed, improvisatory songs in a soaring baritone, drawing applause for the intricacy of his melismas.” - The New York Times

Born in the northern Shouf mountains of Lebanon, Naji Youssef started singing in his church choir at a tender age. He immigrated to the United States in 1988 and has been a leading figure in the Arab-American music scene, performing in many venues and festivals and in many projects with such artists as Simon Shaheen, Philip Glass, and Bassam Saba, including performances with the New York Arabic Orchestra at Symphony Space and at Columbia University's Miller Theatre. Naji’s clear and strong voice is reminiscent of the Lebanese jabali (mountain) style exemplified by great masters such as Wadi’ Assafi, yet the cantorial tradition adds nuance and subtle phrasing to his singing. Naji has mastered many repertoires besides the Melkite hymns, including old poetic singing styles such as mijana, ‘ataba, shruqi and zajal. For many years, Naji has been cantor and deacon in the Catholic Melkite Church of the Virgin Mary in Brooklyn, New York.

Maurice Chedid honed his oud playing at the Lebanese Conservatory of Middle Eastern Music, but comes from a family of musicians. His father was a highly esteemed cantor in the Maronite Church in Lebanon, and his sister, a renowned vocalist. Chedid performed a variety of Arab song traditions including Syrian and Andalusian Muwashahat, regional songs (khaligi and Lebanese) and Egyptian classics in nightclubs and a variety of venues throughout Lebanon. As a member of the National Lebanese Folkloric Group, he toured internationally for four years speciallzing in Lebanese folksongs or “beladi” traditions, including djebeli, and the repertoire of Lebanon’s national beloved singers Fairouz and Wadi es-Safi. In 1988, the proprietor of Cedars of Lebanon, Tony Hosri, invited Chedid to play at the NYC based restaurant-nightclub, where Chedid played regularly until its closing in 2001. Chedid currently plays at Arab social celebrations and venues throughout the metro area.

Kareem Youssef was born in Zahle, Lebanon and grew up in Brooklyn, NY, singing, dancing, and surrounded by music. He developed a passion for anything related to music at an early age and has pursued it throughout his life. He attended the Institute of Audio Research and graduated with a degree in sound production and engineering. He has been a part of the choir at the Melkite Church of the Virgin Mary for over 15 years and now serves as one of its lead cantors. He strives to follow in the footsteps of his father, Naji Youssef, and perform as a solo vocalist one day.

Alwan's Festival of Sacred Music is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Sparkplug Foundation

Last updated: 2011-02-22 20:20:53

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