Al-Bustan Music Concert Series: Fall 2013

Posted On:
07 August, 2013

Al-Bustan Music Concert Series: Fall 2013

Al-Bustan presented the Fall 2013 season of the Arab Music Concert Series with acclaimed guest artists collaborating with Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble. All the concerts were held at the Trinity Center for Urban life, 22nd and Spruces St. The season was supported by the Knight Foundation (October concert), the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage (November concert), and individual donors.

[caption id="attachment_849" align="alignleft" width="264"]SONIA M’BAREK & NATHALIE HANDAL SONIA M’BAREK & NATHALIE HANDAL[/caption]

Saturday October 5, 2013 | 8pm
Music & Poetry Inspired by Federico Garcia Lorca


Born in Sfax, Tunisia, Sonia M’Barek first performed to a live audience at the age of nine and was nationally recognized on TV in Tunis when she was twelve. Attending the national conservatory of music in Tunis, she graduated with a degree in Arab music in 1986. After her degree, she spent most of her time singing in musical theater productions such as Asker Ellil, Ete 61, and Didon, as well as the sound tracks for the film The Dance of Fire. Working with Tunisian oud players, she presented more than thirty concerts of classical Arab music in a performance tour called Tarab. In 1999, after recording Takht, a CD which was widely distributed in Europe, the United States, and Japan, M’Barek became internationally recognized and began teaching and participating in global conferences, workshops, and master classes showcasing her keen ability with Arabic singing. A musical innovator rooted in tradition, her songs draw upon a range of music, from the Andalusian to Arab classical music and contemporary Tunisian compositions. In 2005, she was nominated by the Ministry of Culture in Tunisia to serve as the chair of the National Festival of Tunisian Music. She has performed in France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Egypt, and Lebanon, Oman, and various cities within the U.S. Her recent CD’s include Tir El Miniar, Romances, Hommage A Federico Garcia Lorca, and Wajd.

Nathalie Handal has lived in Europe, the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Arab world. Described as “a Renaissance figure,” Pulitzer Prize winner Yusef Kumunyakaa writes, “This cosmopolitan voice belongs to the human family, and it luxuriates in crossing necessary borders… One of the most important voices of her generation.” She is the author of numerous books, most recently Poet in Andalucía, which Alice Walker lauds as “poems of depth and weight and the sorrowing song of longing and resolve”; and Love and Strange Horses, winner of the 2011 Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award, which The New York Times says is “a book that trembles with belonging (and longing).” Her most recent plays have been produced at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Bush Theatre and Westminster Abbey, London. Her work has appeared in Vanity Fair, Guernica Magazine, The Guardian, The Nation, Virginia Quarterly Review, and she writes the literary travel column “The City and the Writer” for Words without Borders. Handal is a Lannan Foundation Fellow, winner of the Alejo Zuloaga Order in Literature, and Honored Finalist for the Gift of Freedom Award, among other honors.

More info about Oct 5 program, made possible with support of the Knight Foundation.

[caption id="attachment_831" align="alignleft" width="137"]JASON VIEAUX JASON VIEAUX[/caption]

Saturday November 2, 2013 | 8pm
JASON VIEAUX Classical Guitarist
Revisiting Hybridity: (Western) Harmony and (Arab) Heterophony


Jason Vieaux, “among the elite of today’s classical guitarists” (Gramophone), is the classical guitarist that goes beyond the classical. He has earned a reputation for putting his expressive gifts and virtuosity at the service of a remarkably wide range of music. This year his performance invitations have included returns to the Caramoor Festival, New York’s 92nd Street Y “Guitar Marathon”, the Elgin Symphony and others. Numerous highlights for 2012-2013 include concertos with the symphonies of Houston, Toronto, Spokane, Augusta (GA) and Silicon Valley, a performance of the Lukas Foss Concerto for the New Hampshire Music Festival, duo recitals with acclaimed harpist Yolanda Kondonassis and accordion/bandoneon virtuoso Julien Labro, solo recitals in Austin, at the Mannes School of Music and California’s La Guitarra Festival, and another Curtis On Tour sojourn, this time to South America.Vieaux continues to bring important repertoire alive in the recording studio. A new Azica Records album of solo guitar encores is planned for a 2013 release. Among his 11 commercial albums is an Azica disc of Astor Piazzolla’s music with Julien Labro and A Far Cry Chamber Orchestra. Bach: Works for Lute, Vol.1 hit No. 13 on Billboard’s Classical Chart after its first week and received rave reviews by Gramophone, The Absolute Sound,and Soundboard. Images of Metheny features music by American jazz legend Pat Metheny, who, after hearing this landmark recording, declared: “I am flattered to be included in Jason’s musical world.” Sevilla: The Music of Isaac Albeniz made several Top Ten lists the year of its release. Vieaux’s albums and live performances are regularly heard on radio stations across the country, and his work is the subject of feature articles in print and online around the world every year, including in such magazines as Acoustic Guitar, MUSO, and Gramophone, and on NPR’s “Deceptive Cadence” music blog.

Vieaux has performed as concerto soloist with over 50 orchestras, including Cleveland, San Diego, Ft. Worth, Santa Fe, Charlotte, Buffalo, Grand Rapids, Kitchener-Waterloo, Richmond, IRIS Chamber, Chautauqua Festival, and Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. In 2011, Jason Vieaux co-founded the Guitar Department at The Curtis Institute of Music with guitarist David Starobin, while continuing to head of the Guitar Department of the Cleveland Institute of Music.

More info about Nov 2 program, made possible with support of Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

[caption id="attachment_848" align="alignleft" width="136"]SHAWQI KASSIS SHAWQI KASSIS[/caption]

Sunday December 15, 2013 | 7:30pm
SHAWQI KASSIS Author and Philadelphia Arab Music Ensemble
Remembering Palestine: Music & Literature


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.

More info about Dec 15 event.