Musical Performance: A 90th Birthday Celebration for Egyptian Composer Halim El-Dabh

Thu, February 3, 2011 6:00 pm at Bruno Walter Auditorium

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In celebration of the 90th birthday of Egypt's greatest living composer as well as a major American composer of the 20th Century, Alwan for the Arts is proud to support the New York Public Library at Lincoln Center in an evening of live performance of some of Halim El-Dabh's chamber works and screenings of excerpts from his ballets.

Performers include soprano Christine Moore, violinist Luis Casal, and pianists Ruzan Asatryan and Katie Reimer.

Free and Open to the Public

For more information on the celebration, click here.

About Halim El-Dabh:

Composer, performer, ethnomusicologist, and educator Halim El-Dabh is internationally regarded as Egypt's foremost living composer of classical music, and one of the major American composers of the twentieth century. His numerous musical and dramatic works have been performed throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Among his compositions are eleven operas, four symphonies, numerous ballets, concertos, and orchestral pieces, works for band and chorus, film scores, incidental music for plays, chamber and electronic works, music for jazz and rock band, works for young performers, and pieces for various combinations of African, Asian, and Western instruments. His extensive ethnomusicological researches, conducted on several continents, have led to unique creative syntheses in his works, which, while utilizing contemporary compositional techniques and new systems of notation, are frequently imbued with Near Eastern, African, or Ancient Egyptian aesthetics. In his works, El-Dabh frequently draws on his Egyptian heritage, as in Mekta' in the Art of Kita' (1955-56), The Eye of Horus (1967), Ptahmose and the Magic Spell: The Osiris Ritual (1972), Ramesses the Great (Symphony no. 9) (1987), and many others. El-Dabh's 1960 orchestral/choral score for the Son et Lumière light and narration show at the pyramids of Giza (recorded the same year by the ORTF of Paris) was composed at the request of then-Egyptian Minister of Culture Sarwat Okasha, by order of Gamal Abdel Nasser. It has been played there each evening since 1961, and is probably his most frequently heard work.

El-Dabh has also created new systems of notation for the derabucca, and has revived interest in Ancient Egyptian (Pharaonic) language and musical notation. Many of his works from the 1960s on are also heavily influenced by West African traditional musics, such as Black Epic (1968) and Kyrie for the Bishop of Ghana (1968), and still other works bear the influences of the musics of Ethiopia, Brazil, India, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and other nations.

El-Dabh's music is published by C. F. Peters, and his works have been recorded by the Columbia Masterworks, Folkways, Egyptian Ministry of Culture and National Guidance, Auricular, Pointless Music, Luna Bisonte, Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie Karlsruhe, NCG, Without Fear, Tedium House (Bananafish), Association for Consciousness Exploration, and Reference labels. There are entries on El-Dabh in nearly all major musical reference works, and his work is discussed in books by Akin Euba, Ashenafi Kebede, Adel Kamel, Gardner Read, and others. The first-ever biography of the composer, The Musical World of Halim El-Dabh, by Kent State University professor Denise A. Seachrist, was published by the Kent State University Press in April 2003.

Last updated: 2011-01-31 11:18:19

Halim El-Dabh
Halim El-Dabh

Bruno Walter Auditorium

New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, Dorothy & Lewis B. Cullman Center
111 Amsterdam Avenue (between W. 64th and W. 65th Streets)
New York, NY 10023

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