“I have engaged in my travel, so I hope I arrive.”
Cellist, composer, and classical Arab musician Kinan Abou-afach (b. 1977) was born in Damascus, Syria, where at the age of seven he began learning traditional Arabic repertoire on the oud, an Arabic lute. “Damascus was a huge influence on me—a place where you can hear the Muslim call of prayer mixed with church bells,” says Abou-afach. “Mosques and churches playing simultaneously: that sweet sound was my first lesson in polyphony and harmony.” He studied cello at the Arabic Institute of Music and played in the Syrian Orchestra as a youth musician, often getting into trouble for improvising on his instrument. Since arriving in the United States in 2000, Abou-afach has found additional inspiration in American jazz and the inherent freedoms of the form. As a professional musician, he has performed with many well-known musicians and ensembles such as Youssou N’Dour and also appears on a recording of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project. Now residing in Philadelphia, Abou-afach performs extensively with Arabic cultural organization Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture and continues to seek opportunities for cross-pollination between Arab, European, and American styles and traditions. In 2015, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture will premiere new work by Abou-afach as part of That Which Is Adorned, a concert, booklet, and website produced with Center support.
Kinan Abou-afach, “White Dream,” for cello ensemble.
Chris Jennings is the managing director of Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC, an exemplary producer of classical work, including daring adaptations.
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Jennifer Higdon wins a International Opera Award for Cold Mountain, Geoff Sobelle’s one-man play The Object Lesson will be presented at New York Theatre Workshop, and a mid-career retrospective book of Bo Bartlett’s paintings is published.
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A music and movement performance that will offer audiences a distinctive interpretation of Miguel de Cervantes’ four-century-old classic, Don Quixote.
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Composer Vijay Iyer on the musical lineage that influences his artistic practice.
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Leading hip-hop artist Raphael Xavier brought together masterful street performers, extreme BMX riders, acrobatic contortionists, and live music by saxophonist and composer Bobby Zankel for a contemporary circus-style performance in City Hall’s courtyard that paid tribute to the soul of the urban street.
One of this country’s oldest choruses, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia seeks to advance the development of choral music as an art form.