Hafez Javier Kotain

2013 Pew Fellow

Hafez Javier Kotain, 2013 Pew Fellow. Photo by Colin Lenton.

“Through my work, students and adults are becoming more aware and open to my culture. That is what I most want to accomplish.”

Hafez Javier Kotain (b. 1975) is a percussionist and teacher, fluent in both Arab and Latin rhythms. As a child, he learned to play the goblet drum (doumbek), performing on stage for the first time at age nine, and going on to study with master Syrian percussionist Hady Jazan. In Venezuela, the country of his birth, Kotain first began his career as an educator, teaching a variety of percussion styles to budding musicians—work he continues today with Philadelphia-area nonprofit cultural organizations. “Although many pop songs incorporate Arab rhythms and melodies, most listeners are unaware of the origins,” Kotain says. Kotain performs with Al-Bustan’s resident takht ensemble and Intercultural Journeys, an organization that seeks to bridge cultural divides through the arts and live performance. He performed with acclaimed artists such as pop artist Sting, actor and tenor Mandy Patinkin, Syrian singer George Wassouf, and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Percussionist Hafez El Ali Kotain at Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture’s Arab Music Concert Series, November 18, 2011. Video courtesy of Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture.


Grants & Grantees

Robert Crowder (1930–2012) was the founder of Kùlú Mèlé African Dance and Drum Ensemble and a 2004 Pew Fellow in folk and traditional arts.

The Mississippi Blues Project featured eight exceptional blues musicians who made their regional debuts, all of whom were selected for their contributions to the genre and its continuing evolution as a vibrant folk art form.

Grants & Grantees

LaVaughn Robinson (1927–2008) was a tap dancer and a 1992 Pew Fellow.

PRISM Quartet’s Color Theory features a series of performances, lectures, and workshops that investigate the concept of “musical color,” including a Composers Forum.

For his first Philadelphia appearance in over four decades, Milford Graves will present a rare solo performance inside the oldest barn in Philadelphia County at Bartram’s Garden.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Andrew Horwitz is a writer, producer, curator and creative strategist with over 20 years of experience in the for-profit and not-for-profit creative sectors.

Grants & Grantees

In 1989 the Center awarded grants to 13 music organizations in the greater Philadelphia region, including the Painted Bride Art Center and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.

WXPN is a public radio station operated by the University of Pennsylvania, best known for its World Cafe music program, distributed by National Public Radio.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Ian Berry is Dayton Director of the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College.

Grants & Grantees

Russian folktales and South African music and puppetry united in a multidisciplinary interpretation of Igor Stravinsky’s composition for the 1910 ballet The Firebird, featuring The Philadelphia Orchestra, Grammy Award-winning South African vocal ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and larger-than-life puppets by Janni Younge of South Africa’s renowned Handspring Puppet Company.

W Magazine commissions visual artist Ryan Trecartin to create cover art for its 10th anniversary art issue, visual artist Caroline Lathan-Stiefel opens a new solo exhibition at the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, and more.

Grants & Grantees

Crossroads Music organizes public performances by accomplished musicians with roots in cultures from around the world.