The concert will consist of two parts:
Music performance by Philadelphia Arab Music Ensemble and Philadelphia Arab Percussion Ensemble
Literature and Music with selected readings by Shawqi Kassis and music by Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble
Enjoy conversation and light refreshments after the concert
Born in Haifa, Shawqi Kassis grew up in the village of Rama and came to the US at the age of 32 after receiving his Ph.D. in Microbiology from Tel-Aviv University in 1979. He worked as Visiting Fellow and Visiting Associate in the Neurology Institute at the National Institute of Health from 1980 to 1987. This was followed by employment at Glaxo SmithKline for the remainder of his technical career where he worked as a Senior Investigator/Lab Chief in Discovery Research and Research & Development. During this period Dr. Kassis published over 45 biomedical articles in refereed journals in the fields of biochemistry, cell biology and pharmacology. He has presented over 35 abstracts in international and national scientific meetings and has four US and European patents in the field of microbiology.
After a productive career, Kassis dedicated himself upon retirement to his passion, the Arabic language, both through teaching and writing. In 2003, he founded and taught at the Arabic and Hebrew language programs at Drexel University. Currently, Kassis is a writer working on several literary projects, the first of which is the historical fiction book he published last year, loosely based on his life growing up in Palestine-Israel, “Haifa is Not Cordoba.”
Read recent interview with Kassis on Al-Bustan’s blog.
The Philadelphia Arab Music Ensemble and Philadelphia Arab Percussion Ensemble are comprised of community members and students interested in learning and performing Arab music. Led by Music Director/Violinist Hanna Khoury and Percussionist Hafez Kotain, the Ensembles meet on Monday evenings at University of Pennsylvania and include singers, instrumentalists, and percussionists. Songs from Palestine are the highlight this fall, with a different repertoire covered each semester. The Ensembles are supported by University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Music and Greenfield Intercultural Center.
Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble is comprised of four musicians, each virtuosos in their own right — Hafez Kotain on percussion, Kinan Idnawi on oud, Hanna Khoury on violin, and Kinan Abou-afach on cello; three of whom are recent recipients of the Pew Fellowship for the Arts for their exemplary talent in Arab music.