Music & Poetry Inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca

Posted On:
01 October, 2013
Past Events

Al-Bustan is pleased to present an Andalucían evening featuring two accomplished artists Sonia M’Barek and Natalie Handal. Both artists have a broad body of creative works, some of which is inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca – the Spanish poet, playwright, and dramatist whose work was grounded in Andalucían motifs, Gypsy culture, and Flamenco songs.



This program is made possible by the generous support of THE JOHN S. AND JAMES L. KNIGHT FOUNDATION.

Sonia M’Barek is an internationally renowned Tunisian singer. In her tribute to Lorca, M’Barek reintroduces a tragic touch to Arab music. Her repertoire flows between softness and passion. She sings the story of the death of Lorca in 1936 and remembers the crime that took place in Granada. As she explains, “It is through the duende, the cante jondo, the gazal and al quacida of Lorca that I rediscover the mawal, irtijal, iraqi maqam and other Arab musical forms and their diverse dimensions of the tragic and the modern. Whether an expression of joy, happiness, love, or tenderness, it is in sum an expression of humanity.” Jon Pareles of the New York Times praised M’Barek’s recent performance in NYC, remarking how “She sang…with delicacy and strength, with mourning and determination, with intricate ornament and open passion.”


Watch video of Sonia M’barek performing “Drub Al-Hayat” with Al-Bustan’s resident takht ensemble in March 2012.

Nathalie Handal is an award-winning poet, playwright, and writer based in New York City. She has lived in Europe, the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Arab world. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and publications and has been translated into more than fifteen languages. Handal’s poetry draws on her experiences of dislocation, home, travel, and exile. In her latest collection of poems Poet in Andalucía (published 2012), Handal travels to southern Spain and reflects on Lorca’s legacy, eighty years after his sojourn in America. As she writes: ”Andalucía is lyrical. Even if I had not consciously set to recreate Lorca’s journey in reverse, I would have sought in my poems the region’s songfulness.”


Watch video of Nathalie Handal read and talk about her inspiration for “Poet in Andalucia”


Andalucía is a place where multiple racial, ethnic, and religious forces converged and coexisted. It is fitting with Al-Bustan’s mission of cross-cultural exchange and openness to Mediterranean culture to facilitate this first time meeting and collaboration between two renowned artists in Philadelphia as they share the source of their self-introspection. Their performance will be in collaboration with Al-Bustan Resident Takht Ensemble comprised of four fantastic Arab musicians, three of whom are recipients of the Pew Fellowship in the Arts. This is the first event of Al-Bustan’s Fall 2013 season of the Arab Music Concert Series.