A Soul-Stirring Concert of Sufi Poetry & Music

Posted On:
29 April, 2016
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Last night was was magnificent. . . I feel so lucky having easy access to such refined art! I loved Dalal’s voice and feelings, out of this world! Thank you for making it possible and reachable. – Rabab

With 200 people in attendance at Trinity Center for Urban Life, Al-Bustan’s concert on April 16, 2016 manifested traditional Sufi poetry in a contemporary context, infused with candle lights and aromatic bakhour (incense). 

Vocalist Dalal Abu Amneh and Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble, encircled by a whirling Ibrahim Miari, breathed life into the poetry of renowned Sufi poets. Commissioned by Al-Bustan, this new work entitled One Breath One Soul by composer Kinan Abou-afach, delved into the lyrical and spiritual aspects of Sufi poetry that speak of divine/eternal love and longing.

The composition is a continuous suite weaving movements and poetry from Rumi, Ibn ‘Arabi, Rabi’a, and Al-Hallaj.  Following the mood of the poetry, the suite fluctuates in tempo, reaching an ecstatic finale. The music incorporates maqamat (melodic modes), embellishments, and melodic lines, along with steady and repetitive rhythms (intended to mimic the repetition commonplace in Sufi chanting). 

An incredible evening. Only in America will a church lend an Arab cultural group the space to perform a new work of Sufi poems set to music, using instruments from European and Arab musical history. Not only was the concert phenomenal, but the performers an exceptionally accomplished group… Best of all, I attended this with a Jewish colleague from work, and to see everyone engaged and excited over this new work, regardless of religious belief, was heart-warming. I cannot remember when I enjoyed a concert more. – Jane


Watch two video clip excerpts from the concert:


Photos by Chip Colson:



Al-Bustan and Dalal Abu Amneh will co-produce a studio recording of this project. Stay tuned for the album release in Winter 2016!

We are grateful for the support of the Knight Foundation and William Penn Foundation.