Inquirer and WHYY feature Al-Bustan and Chants of the East

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Music Transcends the East-West Divide

November 11, 2014 | by David Patrick Stearns

Suddenly, the yawning gulf between American and Arab music is closed with a voice.

In a sweet, light tenor, the formidable Lebanese composer Marcel Khalife sings a passage to Philadelphia’s Prometheus Chamber Orchestra during a rehearsal Sunday at Haverford College, translating his music into something that doesn’t require either side to understand English or Arabic.

The musicians are preparing for Saturday’s Haverford concert by Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, the Philadelphia organization promoting Arabic culture. It will feature the U.S. premiere of Khalife’s hour-long Chants of the East. . . “

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Keystone Boychoir Learns Arabic to Bridge Boundaries with Song

November 13, 2014 | by Peter Crimmins

The Keystone [State] Boychoir singers, ranging from 8 to 18 years old, gathered Wednesday evening at a Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia to rehearse for a weekend premiere.

The piece, “Chants of the East,” is a collection of folk tunes from the greater Syrian region, collaged together for orchestra by Lebanese composer Marcel Khalife. The work was [presented] commissioned by Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, a local presenter of Arab culture, whose instrumental players – the Takht Ensemble — will perform the piece with full choir at Haverford College Saturday night.

The Arabic songs are familiar to many people from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and Iraq — but not teenagers from Philadelphia. . .”

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