Musical Performance: San‘ani Song: Urban Art Music of Yemen with Ammar Mohammed Hayel

Fri, October 14, 2011 9:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Located at the crossroads of African, Asian, and Arab cultures on the Southwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen is one of the oldest centers of civilization in the near East. Due to its distinct historical position on a spice trading route between Europe and Asia, Yemen is home to one of the richest and most unique cultures of the Arab world.

This music is performed by a singer/oud player joined by a percussionist, and focuses primarily on the poetry, which is sung in either classical Arabic or Yemeni dialect. Performances usually take place in homes in the late afternoon and evening where performers and audience members alike engage in chewing qat, a mild stimulant leaf chewed throughout Yemen. Distinct from other styles of Arab singing, the Yemeni vocal quality is generally high-pitched and features a fast vibrato. The ‘oud style utilizes a fast plectrum technique, probably based on that of the qanbus, a four-string bass instrument historically used to accompany singing before being replaced by the ‘oud in the mid-20th century.

Many diverse musical styles are performed throughout Yemen, from the African-influenced, percussive music of the Tihamma to folk traditions of Hadramawt in the Southeast and the classical Homayni style of the capital, Sana‘a. This form, inscribed in 2003 on UNESCO’s list of intangible heritage, dates to the 14th century and will be the focus of this evening’s performance.


Ammar Mohammed Hayel, oud, voice

Ramzi Edlibi, percussion, sahn nuhasi (copper plate)


Regular: $15 (buy now)*Member: $10 (buy now)*Student and member IDs will be checked at the door.
*A small surcharge is applied to online ticket purchases; use printout as your proof of purchase.Tickets are also available at the door. Doors open at 8:30pm.


Listen to Ammar sing Rage' Ana Ya Biladi راجع انا يابلادي

Born in 1980 to a musical family in Yemen, Ammar Hayel is one of the leading performers of Yemeni music in New York, singing and playing often in private parties among the growing Yemeni community. Ammar has had a deep love for the music since a young age, and began learning to sing when he was four years old in a school group. After working as a professional musician in Yemen, Ammar moved to the United States in 2000, and joined a Yemeni music group directed by his father, the famed artist, Mohammad Hayel, with whom he still performs regularly. Ammar plays oud, rababa, and piano, and is distinguished by his smooth, yet strong voice. His music spans Yemeni and Gulf songs, and he has composed many pieces based on traditional and modern Yemeni poems. Ammar excels in his love of art and congregating with friends in discussion about art, poetry, and music. This performance marks his first appearance at Alwan for the Arts.

Last updated: 2011-10-11 10:48:48

Ammar Hayel
Ammar Hayel

Alwan for the Arts

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(between Broad St. and Broadway)
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(646) 732-3261

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