Musical Performance: Alwan Arab Music Ensemble

Fri, September 7, 2012 8:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Kicking off Alwan's fall season, the Alwan Arab Music Ensemble presents a lively program weaving together folk, popular and art music of the Arab world, highlighting styles and repertoire from Iraq, Palestine, Syria and Egypt. The Alwan Ensemble will feature:

George Ziadeh – voice and oud
Amir ElSaffar – santur, trumpet, and voice
Zafer Tawil – qanun
Sami Abu Shumays - violin
Johnny Farraj - riqq
Rami el-Aasser – percussion

The Alwan Arab Music Ensemble delivers a joyful and transporting feast of well-loved popular songs from the greater Arab World, built around mesmerizing textures of rhythmic and improvisational intensity.

Six contemporary masters of a broad range of Arab musical idioms display their seasoned sensibilities and impressive technique across a diverse array of musical selections from regional folk songs to masterpieces of Egyptian cinema and Arab concert hall culture. Their performance evokes ambiances of Cairo, Baghdad, al-Quds and Aleppo, but more importantly that of contemporary New York with its own vibrant Arab American artistic and intellectual community.

Tickets: $20 General (*buy now) | $15 for Students, Members and Seniors (*buy now) available at the door or online.

(*A small online fee is applied - use printout as your ticket)

Doors open at 7:30 p.m.


Artist Bios:

George Ziadeh 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 on maqam theory and Arab classical repertoire.

New York based composer, trumpet player and singer and santur player in the Iraqi Maqam tradition, Amir ElSaffar has devoted himself both to jazz and the urban art music heritage of Iraq forging new pathways between the two. From commissions and residencies within the cutting edge new music scenes in North American and Europe to film scores to extended musical sojourns in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Azerbaijan, Amir has opened up new spaces for the exploration of composition and improvisation, tradition and innovation.

New York based Palestinian-American Zafer Tawil is a virtuosic performer on the oud, violin, qanun and a full range of Arab percussion instruments. He has performed with numerous musicians ranging from Sting to Arab music greats such as Simone Shaheen, Chab Mami, and Bassam Saba to avant-garde composer/performer Elliot Sharpe, among others. Zafer has composed music for a number of films including the Oscar-nominated Jonathan Demme film Rachel Getting Married.

Sami Abu Shumays, is an accomplished violinist and vocalist in the modern pan-Arab maqam tradition and founder and director of the ensemble Zikrayat, a tight knit, small scale Arabic orchestra devoted to original reinterpretations of the iconic, post-Ottoman popular repertoire of early- to mid- 20th Century Egypt and the Levant.

Johnny Farraj has studied riqq (Egyptian tambourine) and frame drum with Karim Nagi and Fairuz's percussionist Michel Merhej, both featured in Brooklyn Maqam. He also studied oud with Simon Shaheen and Bassam Saba, and classical Arab singing with Rima Khcheich and Youssef Kassab. As a percussionist, he has performed with Simon Shaheen/ Qantara and Amir ElSaffar, and attends the Arabic Music Retreat annually.

Rami El-Aasser can be found at many of NYC's belly dance joints, inspiring ecstatic gyrations through tight rhythms on the dumbek , frame drum and riqq. Although steeped in Egyptian music, Rami was drawn to the mixed repertoire of the NYC dance scene, including music from the greater Middle East, Turkey, Persia, Israel, Armenia, and Greece. Rami has performed at NYC Summer Stage 2001 and at Lallapalooza 2003 and has continued to be active with performing ensembles and theater, both in NYC and abroad.

Last updated: 2012-08-10 03:39:23

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