Questions of Practice: Conductor Donald Nally and Violinist Hanna Khoury on Blending Musical Traditions

The Crossing conductor Donald Nally and violinist, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture music director, and Pew Fellow Hanna Khoury discuss their experiences of blending musical languages and traditions in a performance that brought together a classical Arab chamber ensemble and a Western choir. Unlike Western music, Arabic music “relies very much on the oral tradition,” Khoury explains. “If you have musical sheets [in Arabic music], they are mostly confined to the idea of a skeletal structure that needs all of these embellishments.”

Conductor Donald Nally and violinist Hanna Khoury on blending musical traditions. Filmed at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage on December 7, 2015.

With Center support, Al-Bustan premiered two new compositions by Arab-American composers Kareem Roustom and Pew Fellow Kinan Abou-afach, inspired by Andalusian poetry, during a concert in December 2015 with soloist Dalal Abu Amneh and The Crossing, as part of Words Adorned: Andalusian Poetry and Music.

Hanna Khoury is a violinist trained in the classical traditions of Arab and Western music. A 2013 Pew Fellow, Khoury is music director of Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, and directs the Arab Music ensemble at the University of Pennsylvania. He is currently a PhD candidate in Ethnomusicology at the University of Pennsylvania exploring popular culture and nationalism. As a performer, Khoury continues to collaborate with a number of prominent artists including Mandy Patinkin, in addition to solo engagements and residencies throughout the country.

Donald Nally is conductor of The Crossing, a professional chamber choir focused on new music. He is director of choral organizations at Northwestern University and chorus master of The Chicago Bach Project. Nally has held tenures as chorus master for Lyric Opera of Chicago, Welsh National Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Spoleto USA, and for many seasons at the Spoleto Festival in Italy.


Grants & Grantees

As part of the ongoing Center-funded project re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia, Painted Bride Art Center welcomes Congolese dancer and choreographer Faustin Linyekula.

The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage announces the 2016 guidelines for Project grant applications.

The Arden Theatre Company will bolster its capability to produce new children’s theater through a one-year artistic exchange and collaboration with Seattle Children’s Theatre and Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Christoph Cox is Professor of Philosophy at Hampshire College. He is the author of Nietzsche: Naturalism and Interpretation (California, 1999), and co-editor of Realism Materialism Art (Sternberg, 2015) and Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music (Continuum, 2004).

Grants & Grantees

Jennifer Higdon is a Pulitzer Prize-winning musician and a 1999 Pew Fellow.

Experience this monumental and deeply-realized artistic encounter of dance, light, sound, and architecture on a scale not seen since its premiere 30 years ago.

Grants & Grantees

The first multi-concert retrospective of Julius Eastman, an African American composer who was active internationally in the 1970s and 80s, but who died at age 49, will include rarely-performed works that showcase the composer’s broad compositional practice.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Thom Collins is executive director and president of the Barnes Foundation.

Grants & Grantees

Rebecca Rutstein is a visual artist and a 2004 Pew Fellow.

In the fall of 2011, Pig Iron Theatre Company embarked on a new chapter in its history as an experimental theater collaborative, launching the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training.

Legendary Philadelphia jazz musicians—including guitarists Pat Martino and Monnette Sudler, pianist Dave Burrell, and saxophonist Jimmy Heath—will headline a four-part concert series inspired by the first published collection of compositions by the city’s jazz artists.