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Acclaimed Takht Al-Nagham Performs Syrian Masterpiece & New Works at Roulette in March

The acclaimed New York-based Takht al-Nagham, the performing ensemble of the Syrian Music Preservation Initiative, features the sound of a traditional takht (Arab chamber music group). Promoting and celebrating the diverse ethnic and regional musical traditions of Syria through preservation, innovation, research, and education, it is directed by violinist and founder Samer Ali, who grew up and studied violin in Syria. Takht al-Nagham features the celebrated award-winning Damascus-born soprano Lubana al-Quntar, Marissa Arciola (double bass), and a traditional takht and chorus. Their program includes Isqi al-'Itash (Quench the Thirsty), a masterpiece of classical Arab music that is the oldest work in the Syrian repertoire, as well as gems from Syria never before heard on the American stage - one world premiere and two US premieres.

Isqi al-'Itash (Quench the Thirsty, an eloquent appeal to the Almighty during the 1776 Aleppo drought, was composed by Mohammad al-Manbiji to lyrics by Abdel al-Salam al-Nabulshi. It had nearly disappeared from the annals of music until the efforts of Syrian violinist Tawfiq al-Sabbagh brought it back into recognition by recording it at Aleppo Radio with Mohammad Khayri. In the 1960s, vocalist Sabah Fakhri's legendary recording secured its position as one of the Arab world's most memorable and beloved works. Takht al-Nagham has been the only ensemble to perform this work in the US. The program also consists of works composed specifically for this concert.

The Syrian Music Preservation Initiative is dedicated to preserving and invigorating the diverse ethnic and regional music traditions of Syria (including but not limited to Arabic, Kurdish, Armenian and Syriac). Their performances promote the musical heritage of this region by presenting older works that are less known to the general public, as well as supporting contemporary exploration of the traditional forms by commissioning composers from Syria and the diaspora. In this way, past, present and future of Syrian music is celebrated.

Samer Ali, a native of Syria, is a physician, violinist, musical director of Takht al-Nagham, and founder and artistic director of the Syrian Music Preservation Initiative. He began studying Western classical violin at the age of eight with Fawaz al-Ali and later pursued conservatory studies with Ali Mukhtar Babayev. He studied the Arab violin and classical music traditions with Ali Farran and Ziad Ajjan (both students of composer and scholar Mahmoud Ajjan), Simon Shaheen, Anwar Hariri, and Muhammad Qadri Dalal. He has collaborated with musicians in the US and Syria, such as Khaleel Haj Hussein, Ramez Khaskiyya, Bassam Saba, and Michel Merhej, and has performed with the National Arab Orchestra and the New York Arabic Orchestra.

Made possible in part with public funding provided by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the New York State Legislature.

Saturday March 12, 2022 at 8:00 PM
Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue at 3rd Avenue, Downtown Brooklyn

Tickets: $25 in advance; $30 at door; $20 students, seniors at door
Box office 917-263-0363

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