S.A.R.A. “Sounds and Rhythms of Afghanistan”

S.A.R.A. "Sounds and Rhythms of Afghanistan"

So tonight I will be going to the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts to see S.A.R.A. (Sounds and Rhythms of Afghanistan).  This show will be exciting as I’ve spent so much time the past couple of years learning about the Uzbek doira through the career of Abbos Kosimov and he is actually a member of this ensemble!

Four of Asia’s most acclaimed musicians come together for a fusion of cultures and art forms to create SARA, featuring Salar Nader, who thrilled local audiences in Actors Theatre’s production of The Kite Runner, and Homayoun Sakhi, master of the rubâb (the national lute of Afghanistan). Drawing on centuries’ old heritages from throughout Central and South Asia, SARA explores musical styles both ancient and completely modern.

I had no idea this group existed until seeing some of the advertisements for this show recently.  This is going to be a nice prelude to my show tomorrow night with Raks Makam where I’ll be playing a doira solo with dancers.  This is a part of a tour with members of the Bellydance Superstars called Club Bellydance which features local acts in the first half of the show.

I never thought I would get a chance to Kosimov so soon–this will definitely be a treat, as will the show tomorrow night.  And just getting a chance to hear classical Afghani music will be a pleasure as there are so many similarities to South Asian classical music but I’ve never had a chance to hear the former live.

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Sunday Spotlight on the Non-Western Cello: Anup Biswas, the Cello in India, and Bollywood

Anup Biswas (right cello) with Soumita Roy (dancer) and Dipak Sapui (left cello) at Garden Buffet Supper and Soirée Musicale 5 June, 2010 , at Poulton House in Gloucestershire During a fundraising tour of England and Scotland for the Mathieson Music Trust June/July 2010

This installment of the Sunday Spotlight on the Non-Western Cello will be a bit more personal than those in the past. I know I’ve been terrible the past couple of months about blogging, but [fortunately] I’ve just been far too busy performing and giving presentations to have spent much time writing here or elsewhere.

After having this wonderful dinner with some new Indian-Muslim friends at a Bollywood Party last night, though, I decided it was time to do another spotlight. The subject of this post is Anup Biswas, about whom I discovered after reading the Cambridge Companion to the Cello (which I still think should either be significantly amended or at least have the title reflect the actual subject matter: “The Cambridge Companion to the Western Cello”).

The reference to Biswas at the end of a chapter in the Cambridge Companion to the Cello.  Mainy in reference to the music school he started at an orphanage in Calcutta.  Found this wonderful photo (above) of a collaborative performance between Dipak Sapui, Soumita Roy – the Bharat Natyam Dancer in center, and Anup Biswas at the Poulton House in Gloucestershire (5 June, 2010).  It was part of a fundraising tour for the orphanage music school which teaches both Western and Indian classical music, and, apparently collaborative fusions between both art music traditions if this image is any indication.

The one video I’d been able to find of Anup Biswas playing Indian Music was from this recital, again to benefit the Mathieson Music Trust, at the Sacred Heart Church in Caterham, Surrey.  The tabla player is Chiranjit Mukharjee.

Two things struck me when I first came across the reference to Anup Biswas: 1) that the Cambridge Companion to the cello bothered to mention anyone connected to a non-Western Cello playing tradition at all, and 2) until learning about Biswas, I was unaware of cellists in India who were already incorporating the cello into Classical Indian Music, most of what I’d seen are Western cellists (e.g. Saskia Rao-de Haas, Nancy Kulkarni) who had gone to India to learn Indian music on the cello (though now some cellists in the states are now getting conservatory level training on Indian music–more about that on a future Sunday Spotlight).

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Performance: Ahel El Nagam @ Sweet Surrender Dessert Cafe (Louisville, KY)

Ahel El Nagam

Ahel El Nagam performing at Shiraz Mediterranean Grill in Louisville 24 July 2009

If you are reading this, it’s because it was written earlier today and set to future post as I will be performing at the Sweet Surrender Dessert Cafe in Louisville  (KY) when this autoposts.  The group I’ll be playing with is Ahel El Nagam, a Kentuckiana based Classical Arabic music group.

Ahel El Nagam’s bio:

Ahel El Nagam means, “people of the tune.” We are a new Middle Eastern music band in Louisville, KY. We were founded in April of 2007 and we are working hard to develop a repertoire full of traditional and classical Middle Eastern songs. We are available for cultural events, private parties, and shows at restaurants and coffee houses around Louisville as well as the greater tri-state (Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio) area.

More info about us and my relationship with the group may be found in a previous post.

Sweet Surrender is having a fundraiser for for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Details for the day long event follow:

On Thursday, March 24, Sweet Surrender Dessert Café will host a fundraiser to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. All day, from 10 AM to 10 PM, a sampling of 10 desserts will be offered for $15 per person. Coffee is included. A portion of the entire day’s proceeds will be given to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training.

A whole 10” cake and other prizes will also be raffled off. Tickets for the raffle can be purchased for $2.00 each throughout the week. All of the proceeds from the raffle will go directly to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

In addition to great desserts and great prizes, live music will begin at 8 PM.

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Thursday Rehearsal Reflections: Ahel El Nagam

Ahel El Nagam

Ahel El Nagam performing at Shiraz Mediterranean Grill in Louisville 24 July 2009

Tonight I’ll be rehearsing with one of my other bands, Ahel El Nagam (yes, the website is very much in need of updating–I’ll get to that when I have a chance-hah!).  We bill ourselves as Louisville’s Classical Arabic Band as most of our repertoire consists of, well, Classical Egyptian tunes as well as a number of folk and traditional tunes from Turkey, Armenia, Iraq, Andalusia, Israel and other countries and regions from the Middle East.  Ahel El Nagam means, roughly, “People of the Tune.”

The group formed sometime in the middle of 2007 and I believe my first performance with them was sometime during the Spring of 2008.  At it’s formation the group was four members strong with an instrumentation that ranged from oud, tabla (Egyptian tabla), flute/bellydance, electric sitar/mandolin.  The first couple of shows I played with them (with cello) we had a five member group.

Sadly, we’ve slowly lost “full time” members as folks move on, or move out of the area, or whatever.  The majority of the shows we’ve played the past couple of years have been pretty much what you see in the photo above, me on tabla (or cello) and Denise on oud (or tabla/riqq).  We’d both been far too busy the past few months to rehearse much less play a show, though with some upcoming gigs in the works we’re getting together for the first time since last fall (I believe). Continue reading