Festival of Iraqi Culture Event: Musical Performance: Celebrating the Heart of the Iraqi Maqam: Vocalist Hamid Al-Saadi

Sat, March 16, 2013 7:30 pm at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

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National Tour Produced by Alwan for the Arts

New York Performance co-produced, spnsored and presented by the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

Alwan for the Arts is pleased to present Hamid Al-Saadi, one of Iraq's foremost purveyors of the revered Iraqi maqam tradition, with his ensemble, Al-Chalghi Al-Baghdadi, in their first US tour. Alwan is honored to bring this group from Baghdad as part of its commitment to present the arts and culture of the Arab world to audiences in New York and around the United States.

Concert circuit and links:

New York City Concert at Cathedral of St. John the Divine

Date: Saturday, March 16, 2013, 7:30 pm

+ More information on concert at St. John the Divine

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Concert Tour: Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, Friday, March 22, 2013


Hamid Al-Saadi Iraqi Maqam Ensemble and Amir ElSaffar's Two Rivers, Hill Auditorium, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, March 23, 2013

Eloquence: A Festival of Iraqi Culture

Hamid Al-Saadi's performance is part of a multi-disciplinary Festival of Iraqi Culture that will take place in New York City in March of 2013. Curated by Alwan for the Arts and hosted by the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this festival will celebrate Iraq’s contributions to world heritage and living Iraqi cultural producers of international importance, including world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid and 'oud master Naseer Shamma, amonngst others.The festival and Al-Saadi's tour coincide with the ten-year anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, and will showcase the richness and beauty of Iraq's cultural heritage at a time of heightened public awareness and consciousness about Iraq, and offering a vision for Iraq's future.

The Iraqi Maqam

Inscribed in 2003 on UNESCO’s Representative List of theIntangible CulturalHeritageof Humanity, the Iraqi Maqam represents one of Iraq's richest cultural offerings. The maqam has been developed and refined by generations of masters in the cities of Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk, and Basra as well as in rural areas, who passed this highly sophisticated tradition orally in coffeehouses, courts, and salons over the centuries. The maqam's sophisticated melodies, infectious rhythms, and eloquent poetry, are a direct reflection of Iraq's history, geography, culture, and folklore; in it can be found the essence of all that is Iraqi.

Hamid Al-Saadi

Through his powerful and highly ornamented voice, and in his comprehensive knowledge of the intricate details of the music and poetry of Iraq, generations and layers of the maqam tradition resonate through Hamid al-Saadi’s magnificent presence on stage. The only person in his generation to have memorized and mastered all 56 maqamat from the Baghdad repertoire, Al-Saadi is one of the few vocalists who is keeping the maqam alive today, at a time when so many elements of this profound tradition are in danger of extinction.

Born in Iraq in 1958, Hamid Al-Saadi’s artistic, musical and scholarly journey with the Iraqi maqam began from childhood, inspired by his avid love of the Iraqi and Baghdadi culture, the Arabic language, music and poetry. He studied, practiced, and performed the maqam until he became one of the more renowned and highly acclaimed musicians and scholars in this subject. He learned the art of singing and performing the Iraqi maqam from the legendary Yusuf Omar (1918-1987), who pronounced Al-Saadi as his successor. Muhammed Al-Gubbenchi (1901-1989) who taught Omar and was probably the most influential maqam reciter in history, said that he considered Al-Saadi to be the "ideal link to pass on the maqam to future generations."

Al-Saadi immigrated to Great Britain in 1999, where he lived and was active for six years as a maqam scholar, singer, artist and writer, and returned to Baghdad in 2004 where he currently resides. He authored a book on the maqam entitled,”al-maqam wo buhoor al-angham” is one of the most comprehensive texts on the Iraqi Maqam and its poetry that has ever been published.

His tour in the U.S. begins in New York, at Saint John the Divine on March 16, and continues with performances in Chicago, Illinois and Ann Arbor, Michigan. This tour marks Al-Saadi’s first in the United States with his group, al-Chalghi al-Baghdadi, including master joza player Dakhil Ahmed and percussionist Sabah Kadhem from Iraq, and Amir ElSaffar on santur.

Last updated: 2013-03-05 08:32:29

Hamid Al-Saadi
Hamid Al-Saadi

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine

1047 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, New York 10025
212 316 7540

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