The Art of the Oud
- FileName: ArtOfOudProgramNotes.pdf
Abstract: umsThe Art of the OudpresentsfeaturingOmar Bashir, OudRahim AlHaj, OudandFarida and the Iraqi Maqam EnsembleFarida Abbas, VocalsMohammad Al Bawi, JozzaAbdulatif S. Al Obaidi, RiqWesam Alazzawy, Santur
The Art of the Oud
Omar Bashir, Oud
Rahim AlHaj, Oud
Farida and the Iraqi Maqam Ensemble
Farida Abbas, Vocals
Mohammad Al Bawi, Jozza
Abdulatif S. Al Obaidi, Riq
Wesam Alazzawy, Santur
Program Saturday Evening, October 4, 2008 at 8:00
Rackham Auditorium • Ann Arbor
The Art of the Oud
Remembering Munir Bashir and the
Baghdad Conservatory of Music
Tonight’s program will be performed with one intermission following
Mr. AlHaj’s solo oud set and will be announced from the stage by the
10th Performance The Performing Arts of the Arab World series is sponsored by TAQA New World,
of the 130th Annual Inc.; The Mosaic Foundation, Washington DC; and the Community Foundation
Season for Southeast Michigan and Bustan al-Funun Foundation for Arab Arts.
Made possible in part by U-M Center for World Performance Studies and the
UMS Global: U-M Islamic Studies Initiative.
Performing Arts of the
Funded in part by the Wallace Endowment Fund.
Funded in part by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York.
The photographing or Special thanks to Rahim AlHaj and Ben Johnson for participating in tonight’s
sound and video recording Prelude Dinner.
of this concert or posses- Media partnership provided by The Arab American News and ArabDetroit.com.
sion of any device for such
recording is prohibited. Special thanks to Bustan al-Funun Foundation for Arab Arts in America and
Performance Network for their participation in this residency.
Special thanks to Steven Ball for coordinating the pre-concert music on the
Charles Baird Carillon.
Large print programs are available upon request.
University Musical Society thanks the following
donors for their sponsorship of The Performing
Arts of the Arab World Series:
TAQA New World, Inc.
The Mosaic Foundation, Washington DC
Community Foundation for
Bustan al-Funun Foundation for Arab Arts
Celebrating the Golden Age of Arab Music
Simon Shaheen artistic director, oud, and violin
THU, MAR 12 | 8 PM
The Performing Arts of the Arab World series is
Featuring supported in part by TAQA New World, Inc;
Ibrahim Azzam The Mosaic Foundation, Washington DC; and the
Sonia M’barek Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan
Khalil Abonula and Bustan al-Funun Foundation for Arab Arts.
Rima Khcheich Funded in part by the National Endowment for
The Aswat Orchestra the Arts as part of American Masterpieces:
Three Centuries of Artistic Genius.
Media Sponsors The Arab American News
Call or Click For Tickets!
734.764.2538 | www.ums.org
Ad#1- Aswat (Voices) First Proof of Ad Due: 09.22.08 Ad Due to Programming: 09.23.08
6 UMS 08/09 The Art of the Oud
Iraq’s Exiled Virtuoso one day, they will come back. They have some
kind of very unique relationship with their place.”
In 2004, Rahim AlHaj visited Iraq for the first
time in 13 years and found that the Institute of —Katy June-Friesen
Music in Baghdad—his alma mater—was burned
mar Bashir was
here is no music anymore in Iraq,” says Ra-
born in 1970 in
him AlHaj, a renowned master of the oud,
a stringed instrument that some trace to
gary. Mr. Bashir began
the beginning of Mesopotamian civilization 5,000
studying the oud at the
age of five under the tu-
Mr. AlHaj, who came to the US as a political
telage of his father, the
refugee in 2000 and now lives in Albuquerque, re-
legendary musician and
leased his fourth album, When the Soul is Settled:
teacher Munir Bashir. At
Music of Iraq, in 2006. Produced by Smithsonian
age seven, Mr. Bashir
Folkways Recordings, it’s a collection of traditional
joined the Baghdad School
Iraqi maqams, or “suites,” that include improvised
of Music and Ballet where
passages. Folkways set out to produce the album Omar Bashir
he eventually became a
following the US-led invasion, largely to counter
teacher and set up his own band of 24 musicians
the superficial picture of Iraqi life in newscasts, says
specializing in traditional Iraqi music. Omar Bashir’s
producer D. A. Sonneborn. The label wasn’t look-
ensemble performed regularly across Egypt, Russia,
ing for political music, and Mr. AlHaj’s maqams,
Turkey, and many Arabic countries.
which touch on phenomena such as the cycles of
In 1991, Omar Bashir returned to Budapest
the moon, are about the ancient land’s culture.
where he joined the Franz Liszt Academy and per-
Which isn’t to say that Rahim AlHaj himself is
formed with his father until his passing in 1997. To-
apolitical. As a young man, he was active in a se-
day, he is considered one of the most brilliant oud
cret political party that opposed Saddam Hussein’s
players alive, creating a sparkling mixture of tradi-
regime, and he wrote protest songs. He says he
tional Arabic music with jazz-like improvisation.
was imprisoned in 1986 and 1988—the first time
for a year-and-a-half—and that he was subjected
to beatings. He hid his hands so they would not
be injured. Mr. AlHaj’s family arranged for him to ahim AlHaj, virtuoso oud musician and
leave the country; his mother sold all her posses- composer, was born in Baghdad, Iraq, and
sions, even her clothes, and spent $20,000 on false began playing the oud at age nine. Early
identity papers. on, it was evident that he had a remarkable talent
In February 1991, a month after the Persian for playing the oud. Mr. AlHaj studied under the
Gulf war started, Mr. AlHaj fled to Jordan. Musi- renowned Munir Bashir, considered by many to be
cal instruments could not be taken out of Iraq, and the greatest oud player of all time, and Salim Ab-
when he reached the border he could not explain dul Kareem, at the Institute of Music in Baghdad,
that he was the famous Rahim AlHaj; his oud was Iraq. Mr. AlHaj won various awards at the Con-
seized. He lived in Jordan for two years and then in servatory and graduated in 1990 with a diploma
Syria, where he met his wife, Nada Kherbik, before in composition. He also holds a degree in Arabic
coming to the US. Literature from Mustunsariya University in Bagh-
Now Rahim AlHaj performs dozens of US dad. In 1991, after the first Gulf War, Mr. AlHaj
concerts. The oud he plays was made by a child- was forced to leave Iraq due to his activism against
hood friend, Farhan Hassn, who lives in Iraq. The the Saddam Hussein regime and began his life in
instrument bears two homing pigeons, inlaid in Jordan and Syria. He moved to the US in 2000 as a
wood; as boys, Mr. AlHaj and Mr. Hassn raised political refugee and has resided in Albuquerque,
the birds in Baghdad. Today, Rahim AlHaj raises New Mexico ever since.
homing pigeons in his backyard. “I learned from Rahim AlHaj has performed hundreds of con-
them,” says Mr. AlHaj, who says he might live certs all over the world, on tour with Munir Bashir,
again in Iraq. “Send them thousands of miles, but as well as solo and with his string quartet, includ-
UMS 08/09 The Art of the Oud 7
ing in the Middle sein Al-Athami, and Mohammad Gomar encour-
East, Europe, aged her to perform classical Iraqi maqam despite
and throughout the traditional barrier to women. Farida was a
the US. Mr. Al- member of Munir Bashir’s Iraqi Musical Heritage
Haj’s music deli- Group from 1986–1989 before the formation of
cately combines the Iraqi Maqam Ensemble. Farida graduated from
traditional Iraqi the Institute of Music in Baghdad in 1990, mas-
maqams with con- tered 19 maqams, and became the first woman
temporary styling to teach classical maqam in Iraq. Her CD Mawal
and influence. His & Maqama Iraq by New Samarkand was chosen
Rahim AlHaj compositions are as “Top of the World” by the international music
about the experience of exile from his homeland magazine Songlines published in London in Oc-
and of new beginnings in his adopted country. His tober 2000. She has participated in many inter-
songs establish new concepts without altering the national events, including prestigious festivals in
foundation of the traditional Iraqi School of Oud. Moscow, Uzbekistan, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon,
Mr. AlHaj currently has five CD recordings: Morocco, Algeria, Iraq, Holland, England, France,
Home Again, When the Soul is Settled: Music of Germany, and Belgium.
Iraq, Friendship: Oud and Sadaqa String Quartet,
The Second Baghdad, Iraqi Music in a Time of War, The Iraqi Maqam Ensemble was founded in
and lingua franca. In June 2006, Don Heckman, 1989 in Baghdad by Mohammad H. Gomar as a
reviewing one of AlHaj’s album releases for the continuation of the Iraqi Musical Heritage Group,
Los Angeles Times, wrote: “AlHaj’s spontaneous which was initiated in 1973 by Munir Bashir. The
inventions are constantly fascinating—a convinc- musicians of the Iraqi Maqam Ensemble studied
ing affirmation of the rich culture of an embattled and received diplomas from the Musical Institute
area of the world.” Rahim AlHaj won the Albu- and Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad, Iraq. The
querque Arts Alliance Bravo Award 2003 for Ex- ensemble’s objective is to revive and spread Iraqi
cellence in Music and was dubbed “The Prophet maqam and Iraqi musical heritage through per-
with an Oud” by a music reviewer at the College forming in Arabic and international music festi-
of William and Mary. vals. The Iraqi Maqam Ensemble is considered to
Mr. AlHaj’s CD’s have become bestsellers and be one the most important forces in the revival of
his songs and life story are frequently featured on na- the Iraqi maqam. The ensemble has been invited
tional radio shows and movies worldwide, including to many of the most prestigious international mu-
the BBC, CNN International, NPR’s All Things Con- sic festivals and is considered to be one of the best
sidered, ABC National Radio Australia, Amy Good- performing Arabic ensembles in the world.
man’s Democracy Now, and NPR’s Studio 360.
Ali was born in 1963
onight’s opening concert of
in Kerbala, Iraq. She
UMS’s Performing Arts of the
has established a reputa-
Arab World Series celebrating the
tion throughout the Arab
legacy of Munir Bashir and the Baghdad
world for her brilliant per-
Conservatory of Music features the UMS
formances of the classical
debuts of both Omar Bashir and Farida
maqam, a form of Arab
and the Iraqi Maqam Ensemble. Tonight
art music traditionally
marks Rahim AlHaj’s second UMS ap-
sung by men. Her power-
pearance, having made his UMS debut
ful voice and her extensive
in a duet concert with percussionist
training in the Iraqi and Farida
Souhail Kaspar in Rackham Auditorium
Arab maqams have enabled her to perform some
in March 2007.
of the most challenging maqams of Arab music.
Teachers Munir Bashir, Sha Ubi Ibrahim, Hus-
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