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The World Renowned Alwan Arab Music Ensemble @ The Julian Studley Theater

by Editorial Staff

On Saturday, April 29, six contemporary masters of a broad range of musical idioms will grace the stage of the Julian Studley Theater on the SUNY New Paltz campus.

The world renowned Alwan Arab Music Ensemble weaves together folk, popular, and art music of the Arab world, highlighting styles and repertoire from Iraq, Palestine, Syria and Egypt.

The Alwan Ensemble features: Amir ElSaffar: Trumpet Santur Vocals | Zafer Tawil: Oud, Violin, Percussion | Firas Zreik: Qanun | George Ziadeh: Oud, Vocals | Layth Sidiq: Violin | Naseem Al Atrash: Cello | Tareq Rantisi: Percussion

The 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. 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.

About the Musicians


Amir ElSaffarAmir ElSaffar is a New York based composer, trumpet and santur player as well as a singer in the Iraqi Maqam tradition. A master of disparate musical styles and a singular approach to combining aspects of Middle Eastern music with American jazz, Amir has created new techniques to play microtones and ornaments that are idiomatic to Arabic music, but not typically heard on the trumpet. From commissions and residencies within the cutting-​​edge, new music scenes in North America and Europe to film scores and extended musical sojourns in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Azerbaijan, Amir has opened new spaces for the exploration of composition and improvisation, tradition and innovation.

ZafirTawillZafer Tawil is a virtuosic performer on the oud, violin, qanun and a full range of Arab percussion instruments. He has performed with numerous musicians including Sting, Arab music greats Simone Shaheen, Chab Mami and Bassam Saba and avant-​​garde composer and performer Elliot Sharpe. Zafer has also composed music for a number of films including two Jonathan Demme’s films, Oscar-​​nominated Rachel Getting Married and Zeitoun, based on Dave Eggers’ book about Abdulrahman Zeitoun’s post-​​Hurricane Katrina odyssey.

Firas ZreikFiras Zreik is a Palestinian qanun player and composer from the town of Kafr Yassif in the Western Galilee. He started playing the qanun at age 11 and studied Arab music at the Beit Almusica Conservatory. He has performed with many important artists, including Roger Waters, Simon Shaheen and Amal Murkus. He is currently at the Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship, pursuing a dual degree in jazz composition and performance.

George Ziadeh w oudGeorge Ziadeh, born in Palestine, has pursued music from an early age. He studied ‘oud with Simon Shaheen and classical singing and voice witih Youssef Kasab. George has performed as a soloist and as a member of various ensembles throughout Europe, the Middle East and the United States. George is an authority on maqam theory and Arab classical repertoire and has taught at the Columbia University Department of Ethnomusicology, the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Ramallah and Birzeit University.

Layth SidiqLayth Sidiq is a leading Middle Eastern violinist on the world music stage. He studied at Chetham’s School of Music and with Simon Shaheen at the Berklee College of Music. A soloist, chamber musician, and recording artist, Layth has collaborated with Javier Limon, a Grammy award winner and Latin Grammy award winning artist on numerous projects. He was featured on the Grammy nominated album, The Voices of Afghanistan, and has performed throughout Europe, the Middle East and the United States.

Naseem Al AtrashNaseem Al Atrash is a globally acclaimed Palestinian cellist and a classically trained musician and improviser in diverse styles. Following his studies at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Ramallah, Naseem was awarded a full scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music. He is a two time recipient of the “string player of the year” from the National Competition of Palestine.

Tareq RantisiTariq Rantisi is a self-​​taught musician who has shared the stage with some of the most distinguished musicians in the region. He is renowned for his deep musical dialogue and versatility moving between jazz, Afro-​​Cuban, Carnatic Indian and Brazilian rhythms. Tareq attended the Berklee College of Music on an Al-​​Qattan Foundation Music Scholarship, graduating with distinction.

Advance Purchase Tickets Here  or Cash ONLY at the door.
$10 General Admission. $5 for New paltz students with valid ID.

This performance is presented in conjunction with the Dorsky Museum exhibition Text/​ures of Iraq: Contemporary Art from the Collection of Oded Halahmy, an exhibition drawn from the personal collection of New York-​​based sculptor Oded Halahmy, a Jewish native of Baghdad.

The varied works in the exhibition range from examples of modern Arabic and Hebrew calligraphy, illustrating texts from both Western and Islamic philosophical traditions, to those that evoke hurufiyah, an influential modern Arab variant of Lettrism, which used the swoops and curves of the Arabic alphabet as painterly gestures.
Curated by Murtaza Vali, the exhibition is on display in The Dorsky’s Howard Greenberg Family Gallery through May 21, 2017.




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