Tour Debuts Contemporary Arab Music Icons and Newly Commissioned Collaborative Pieces Supported by AKMI
Video: New Sounds from Arab Lands
About the concerts: Programme Notes
More Information: www.akdn.org/music
Geneva, 4 February 2013 – Five eminent performer-composer-improvisers from Syria, Tunisia and Lebanon will tour Europe and the United States from 8 to 28 February 2013 (a full list of dates are found below) in a tour supported by the Aga Khan Music Initiative.
Performing on both Middle Eastern and Western instruments, the five musicians exemplify the rising generation of cosmopolitan Arab musicians who combine jazz, classical music, and the microtonal subtleties and myriad melodic modes of Arabic music. The programme features Kinan Azmeh, clarinet; Basel Rajoub, saxophone; Jasser Haj Youssef, violin, viola d’amore; Feras Charestan, qanun; and Khaled Yassine, percussion.Each musician is at once a consummate performer, skilled improviser, and highly original composer. Together, the ensemble’s music represents a sublime mix of spontaneity and control rooted in a thousand-year-old tradition of improvisation.
The tour will present fifteen new works created by members of the ensemble -- works that hint at the age-old exchange along the Silk Route as well as the ongoing dialogue throughout the region and world. In part composed and in part improvised, these works come alive in the moment, yet they are also charged with a sense of history and tradition. Moreover, they could only have emerged from artists whose own musical journeys have zigzagged back and forth between the Middle East and the West in unique ways, creating music that is at once seamless and surprising.
New Sounds from the Arab Lands is led by the versatile clarinettist Kinan Azmeh. Born in Damascus, Kinan graduated from that city’s High Institute of Music and subsequently, from New York’s Juilliard Conservatory. He has appeared worldwide as a classical clarinettist as well as a new music improviser and jazz player. Kinan’s compositions include works for orchestra, chamber groups, and solo clarinet as well as film scores, dance soundtracks, and electro-acoustic music.
Basel Rajoub, born in Aleppo, Syria, graduated from the Damascus High Institute of Music, where he studied European and Middle Eastern classical music as well as jazz. Known for merging jazz with Middle Eastern rythyms and developing oriental music for the saxophone, he performs widely as leader of the Basel Rajoub Quartet.
Jasser Haj Youssef, originally from Tunisia, performs both on violin and on the Baroque viola d’amore, whose resonant sympathetic strings are ideally suited to the modal melodic forms of Arabic music. Jasser is a consummate fusionist, as much at home in jazz as in classical music and Arab maqam.
Khaled Yassine is from Beirut and plays both Middle Eastern and western percussion. He co-founded the Lebanese fusion band Fu Jan Shai, tours with Anouar Brahem, and is artistic director and producer of the Beirut-based CD label Edict Records.
Feras Charestan, comes from the city of Al-Hasakeh, in northeast Syria, and studied qanun at the High Institute of Music in Damascus. He performs regularly as a qanun soloist with the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra as well as in the bands Roubai Toueis and Woujouh.
New Sounds will be performed on the following dates:
8 February: Théâtre d’Èvreux, Èvreux, France
9 February: Théâtre de la Ville / Théâtre aux Abbesses, Paris, France
15 February: Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA, USA
16 February: Meyer Auditorium, Freer-Sackler Galleries, Washington, DC, USA
17 February: Alwan for the Arts, New York, NY, USA
26 February: Dartmouth College, Hopkins Center for the Arts, Hanover, NH, USA
28 February: Brandeis University, Slosberg Recital Hall, Waltham, MA, USA
Several university residencies are planned:
21-16 February 2013: Dartmouth College
27 February - 1 March 2013: Brandeis University
The New Sounds project was developed in collaboration with the Aga Khan Music Initiative, a programme of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The Music Initiative supports artists and artistic communities in the Middle East and North Africa, Central Asia, and South Asia that seek to reassemble and further develop diverse expressions of a shared musical heritage in contemporary forms. Working with partners and collaborators around the world, its performance, outreach, and production activities offer a broad platform for contemporary, tradition-inspired music. In parallel, it develops new models for community-based arts education that revitalize cultural heritage as a source of livelihood for musicians while promoting pluralism.
In a region that has been marked by strife and difficult transitions, New Sounds from the Arab Lands reminds us that the culturally rich region is filled with worldly, complex, enlightening ideas and sounds.
For tour information in the United States, please see:
For more information about the Aga Khan Music Initiative, please see: www.akdn.org/music or contact:
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