Syria to Egypt: A Musical Continuum
6:00 PM18:00

Syria to Egypt: A Musical Continuum

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Join us at the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center for a journey on land and through time of the formative years of Arab music with a program that features the work of leading composers presented in chronological order.

Performance by Samer Ali’s Takht Al-Nagham and lead vocalist Lubana Al-Quntar with a special appearance by Fadi J Khoury Dance.


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Quench the Thirsty  فاصل اسق العطاش
6:00 PM18:00

Quench the Thirsty فاصل اسق العطاش

The Syrian Music Preservation Initiative (SMPI) presents "Quench The Thirsty" with Takht Al-Nagham.

This unique concert will feature a Waslah in maqam Rast, a musical suite, followed by one of the most beloved works in the classical Syrian repertoire, Isqil Al-’Itash, presented for the first time in the U.S. in its entirety.

Isqi Al-'Itash (Quench the Thirsty) itself had been nearly lost to history. As all great works of art are a true reflection of people's trials and tribulations, hopes and aspirations, the lyrics to Isqil Al-'Itash were written by Abdel Al-Salam Al-Nabulsi and the music was composed by Mohammad Al-Manbiji during a difficult drought in Aleppo back in 1776. Al-Manbiji begs his maker's forgiveness to release his people from their struggle. It is an eloquent adjuration to the Almighty set to over two hours of sincere and profound Mowashahat and Qasa'id. The work then nearly disappears from the annals of music until the efforts of the Syrian violinist Tawfiq Al-Sabbagh brought it back into recognition by recording it at Aleppo Radio. In the late 60's, Sabah Fakhri's legendary recording secured its position as one of the Arab world's most memorable and beloved artistic masterpieces.

In our event, also for the first time, the musical performance will be accompanied by two classical dance recitals; a "Samah" interval and a Sufi whirling dervish finale.

Takht Al-Nagham reflects the vision of its founder Samer Ali. It is a New York-based Arab chamber music group featuring the sound of a traditional takht (Arab chamber music ensemble) that is committed to performing the classical Syrian repertoire with traditionally all acoustic instruments. In order to familiarize audiences in the U.S. with the original structure of the musical traditions, the takht presents its sets, in the same manner, they were originally performed over a century ago. Participating in this performance will be 14 musicians and vocalists.

Leading the vocalists is Wajde Ayub, a classically-trained Syrian Mutrib. Mr. Ayub was born in Aleppo, Syria, and started to sing and play the Oud at an early age. For over twenty-five years, he has performed with most of the leading musical figures of Aleppo, like Amer Amouri, Safwan Al-Abed, and Shadi Jamil. Having toured in Europe and Latin America, he has performed in the U.S. since 2006. His primary focus is on the Waslah, an Arab musical suite that has a specific set of composed and improvised forms like Muwashshah, Taqasim, and Qasida, etc. Wajde Ayub is likely the most specialized singer of the Waslah in the U.S. today. He was trained to memorize dozens of classic Arabic compositions which he recites and improvises spontaneously during a given performance; a particularly demanding task for a takht. The members of the ensemble are hence required to be intimately familiar with an extensive repertoire base allowing them to seamlessly perform complex phrasing without the aid of musical notation.

Takht al-Nagham includes the following members:
Violin: Samer Ali
Violin: Insia Malik
Oud: Zafer Tawil
Qanun: Fouad Salloum
Riq/Daff: Johnny Farraj
Tabla/Daff: Nezih Antakli
Double bass: John Murchison
Male chorus: Sumar Frejat, Motasem Amayri, Emad Botros
Female chorus: Marwa Morgan, Khadidja Guendil, Nadeen El-Akkad
Samah dancer: Nicole Macotsis
Costume design and Choreography: Ramzi El-Edlibi
Whirling Dervish: Adnan Tarakji

The event includes an exhibition by Syrian artist Lukman Ahmad

Tickets: $25 advance, $30 at the door. Please visit the link 

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In Concert with Muhammad Qadri Dalal - Muwashshahat from Aleppo
8:00 PM20:00

In Concert with Muhammad Qadri Dalal - Muwashshahat from Aleppo


Alwan for the Arts presents Muhammad Qadri Dalal, a leading virtuoso on oud and one of the last true masters of improvisation in Arab music.

In this performance, Muhammad Qadri Dalal will perform a solo set of oud taqasim (improvisations) followed by a set of Aleppan Muwashshahat and Qudood with Samer Ali on violin and Johnny Farraj on riq of Takht Al-Nagham.

To purchase tickets, click here


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Aleppian classical music
8:00 PM20:00

Aleppian classical music

Alwan for the Arts presents a concert of Aleppian classical music with Syrian vocalist Wajdi Ayoub and Takht Al-Nagham. The concert will feature a repertoire of Muwashahat, Mawawil, Qasa’ed, and Qudud, as well as instrumental improvisations. 

Wajdi Ayoub is a very well-established Syrian vocalist who specializes in the classical Arabic repertoire, with a focus on the Egyptian dawr genre and the Andalucian Muwashahat genre that is the musical hallmark of the city of Aleppo. Ayoub was born in Aleppo, Syria, and started to sing and play the Oud at an early age. He was a student of Abdel-Qader Hajjar and Kamel Bassal (both students of sheikh Omar Al-Batsh, a prolific composer of Muwashahat) and of Safwan Al-Abed. Ayoub performed many concerts at the Citadel of Aleppo, both as a solo artist and as part of Sabah Fakhri’s ensemble. Since he relocated to the United States late 2016, Ayoub has been a regular performer and voice teacher. 

Takht Al-Nagham is a New York-based ensemble founded by Syrian violinist Samer Ali, that treasures the sound of an Arabic Takht (Arabic chamber group) and is committed to performing the classical Arabic repertoire with traditional and acoustic instruments. The word “Nagham” means melody/tune in Arabic, but is also used as a synonym to the Arabic Maqam system which is the foundation and main focus of the ensemble’s repertoire.  

Takht al-Nagham includes the following members:

Violin I: Samer Ali

Violin II: Muhammad Abdullah

Oud: Rachid Halihal

Qanun: Firas Zreik

Riq: Johnny Farraj

Tabla: Rami el-Asser

Double bass: John Murchison

Chorus: Fouad Salloum, Emad Botros, Salah Zane

Rehearsal sneak peak, click here

To purchase tickets, click here

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Background Photo: Awj Ensemble @ Danish Institute (Beit Al-Aqqad) - Old City of Damascus, Syria, 2010

Copyright © 2019 Syrian Music Preservation Initiative Corp. a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization