“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.
Before retiring in 2010, Joseph Carvalho served as the executive director of Springfield Museums in Springfield, MA.
The Philadelphia Ceili Group is an educational organization with an interest in Irish culture, founded in 1958 to preserve traditional ceili and set dancing.
Hayes blends various mediums—including video, performance, installation, and photography—to probe the complex intersections of history, politics, gender, and speech within private and public spaces.
Ars Nova Workshop undertook planning for an exhibition that explores the relationship between Han Bennink and Peter Brötzmann, two important figures in European improvised music.
Chris Madak bridges (Pew Fellow, 2015) drone and contemporary experimental electronic music, demonstrating a refined and subtle, yet accessible, musical voice.
Laura Connelly, director of presentations for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association since 2007, oversees all non-classical presentations at the Hollywood Bowl and Walt Disney Concert Hall.
The work of Schumann, Gesualdo, Brahms, and Mozart will be performed to evoke themes of fragility, unconventionality, and playfulness explored by the composers late in their careers.
Percussionist Pablo Batista will blend traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms and contemporary Western instrumentation, Afro-Caribbean choreography and evocative multi-media imagery in a performance that will tell a story of the spiritual and cultural resilience of those forced to emigrate from Africa to the Americas and re-establish themselves with dignity.
Namita Gupta Wiggers is director and chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, OR.
Orrin Evans (Pew Fellow, 2010) never stops thinking about the traditions and evolution of jazz music, as well as renewing jazz’s legacy in the African-American community.
The Philadelphia Chinese Opera Society (PCOS) is the only organization in the Philadelphia region devoted to the study, teaching, and performance of Beijing opera.
How might a world-famous art collection inform a new piece of music? MacArthur award-winning saxophonist and composer Ken Vandermark shares his thoughts.