In partnership with Haverford College’s Concert Artist Series, Al-Bustan presented internationally-acclaimed Lebanese composer, singer, and oud master MARCEL KHALIFE in the US premiere of his recent work Chants of the East. At a sold-out event of more than 750 people at Haverford’s Marshall Auditorium, the concert featured Marcel Khalife and guest soloist Abeer Nehme, with Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble, and Conductor Thomas Lloyd, Chamber Singers of Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges, Keystone State Boychoir, and Prometheus Chamber Orchestra. It was a wondrous evening that showcased a range of Mr. Khalife’s compositions, from his popular songs to his orchestral compositions.
Reflecting on the experience, Conductor Thomas Lloyd remarked,
For many of our students this is the kind of experience they call “life-changing”…For me it was like taking them on a trip to Turkey or Lebanon – collaboration with local musicians learning their music from them and then performing for an audience including many who had known and loved this music for a long time – we could have been in Beirut or Cairo! And I can’t remember ever performing with a more highly skilled group of musicians than the Takht Ensemble. The students and boys all truly appreciated Hanna [Khoury]‘s passion and dedication to teaching the music and the rich sounds of the Arabic language.
Photos of concert by Dana Scherer:
An enriching cultural experience combined with a fantastic musical evening.
Once in a lifetime concert, amazing orchestra, and amazing musicians and singers.
I was captivated and fully engaged even though the spoken and sung words were alien to my ear.
Abeer Nehme was exceptionally great. Of course Marcel Khalife was as usual amazing and entertaining.
The first two pieces in Turkish performed by [Haverford & Bryn Mawr] students were amazingly great.
Some comments from the audience
During Mr. Khalife and Ms. Nehme’s week-long stay in Philadelphia, they visited Moffet Elementary School where Al-Bustan has an After-school Arab Arts Program teaching music and art. The students presented a percussion arrangement and sang several songs in Arabic, French and English, including Khalife’s “Ya Nassim Al-Rih”. Additionally, Mr. Khalife gave a talk at Haverford College about his life as a musician navigating the culture and politics in the Arab region. Following the Q&A, singers in the Philadelphia Arab Music Ensemble led by Hanna Khoury performed three of Mr. Khalife’s songs.
This program was made possible through generous support of the William Penn Foundation and Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts’ Building Bridges Program, as well as Haverford College.