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Syria-Egypt: A Musical Continuum. Takht AlNagham&Lubana AlQuntar
October 12 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pmFREE
Join us at the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center for this journey from Syria to Egypt on land and through time of the formative years of Arabic music. The program will feature a selection of the most important classical composers of the region presented in a chronological order as interpreted by Samer Ali‘s Takht Al-Nagham – تخـت النـغم and Syria’s celebrated vocalist, Lubana Al Quntar.
This concert is presented by Multiflora Productions in collaboration with The Kennedy Center as part of its annual month-long DIY global music festival “Flash of the Spirit” that happens across multiple venues in Washington DC during the month of October. Its mission is to present emerging and remarkable international musicians from abroad as well as local musicians from our diverse immigrant communities to celebrate their stories, heritage, and cultures through their music.
A native of Syria, Samer Ali is an Arab violinist and the artistic director of Takht Al-Nagham. He currently performs with the National Arab Orchestra among many others. Samer began studying western classical violin at the age of eight with Fawaz Al-Ali and later pursued intensive conservatory studies with Ali Mukhtar Babayev. Samer 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. Samer co-founded the Awj Arab music ensemble in Damascus in 2007, and performed with the Ugarit ensemble in Jableh. In 2010, Samer was featured by Moncef Genoud at the Damascus Opera House. He has collaborated with musicians in the United States and Syria, such as Khaleel Haj Hussein, Ramez Khaskiyya, Bassam Saba, and Michel Merhej Baklouk.
Takht Al-Nagham – تخـت النـغم:
Takht Al-Nagham is a New York-based Arab ensemble featuring the sound of a traditional takht (Arab chamber music group). It is the performing arm of SMPI (Syrian Music Preservation Initiative). Following the vision of its founder Samer Ali, it is committed to performing the classical Syrian repertoire with traditionally all acoustic instruments. The takht presents its sets in the same manner they were originally performed.
Lubana Al Quntar:
Lubana Al-Quntar is generally considered the premier opera singer of the Arab world. Her rare voice ability enabled her to sing a wide repertoire ranging from traditional Arabic, folk, traditional to pop. Operatically, Ms. Al-Quntar is a dramatic coloratura.
Born in Damascus, Lubana was the first Arab to win the 4th prize at the 1997 International Singing competition in Belgrade, and the 5th prize at the prestigious Queen Elizabeth singing competition in Brussels. Ms. Al-Quntar had completed her academic studies at the Royal College of Music in London with Professor Kennith Wollom, and Damascus conservatory of Music with Professor Galina Khaldieva. She obtained her degree in operatic performance from Maastricht Academy of Music in Holland under the tutelage of Mystra Mya Besselik. Ms. Al-Quntar has appeared globally as an opera soloist, and as a traditional Arabic singer astonishing audiences with her ability to alternate between the two different genre. Notable appearances include: Opera Bastille (Paris), opera theater La Monnaie (Brussels), Flemish Opera (Antwerp), orchestre philharmonique de Liege (Belgium), Flemish Radio Orchestra Musica Viva (Bremen), the world’s first Arabic opera, Opera Avincenna (Doha) and Silk Road Festival (Tokyo). Ms. Al-Quntar was invited by the University of California to perform with the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra, and toured with the Glyndeborne opera performing the Queen Of The Night. Ms. Al-Quntar was invited by Arab Alliance of Women in Music AAWM in Amman “Under the auspice of Her Highness, Princess Muna Al-Hussein”. She was chosen to represent Syria in “Woman is Singing” Festival in Damascus, and represented Syria in Arab Creative Women Forum (Tunisia). She sang “The queen of the night” at Tuscia Opera Festival (Italy), and a frequent participant to the prestigious Arab singing festival (Carthage).
At the Opera House of Cairo, Ms. Al-Quntar performed at the closing event of the Arab singing Festival. Other appearances include: Opera Fallujah, The Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.) with the Oud player Ramy Adly, the Shakespeare theater in a new production “Salomè”, Royal National Theater (London) for Salomè directed by Yael Farber. Also, with the National Symphony Orchestra of Belgium and with the Syrian expat philharmonic orchestra SEPO at Klara festival at Bazar Concert Hall honoring the memory of the terrorist attack in Brussels.
Celebrating the life and work of the Syrian poet Nizar Al-Qabbani, Ms. Al-Quntar performed at the ceremony at the Syrian cultural Garden, Cleveland.
Ms. Al-Quntar was the head of the Opera Department at the Damascus conservatory (2003-2011) where she taught Opera and Arabic singing. She is the founder of the Arabic Singing Band.
Currently residing in the Washington DC area, Lubana Al-Quntar has dedicated her voice and effort to raise awareness for the Syrian culture and helping world refugees through fundraising concerts.
List of Ensemble Members:
Lubana Al-Quntar, Lead singer
Samer Ali, Violin
Firas Zreik, Qanun
Zafer Tawil, Oud
John Murchison, Double bass
Johnny Farraj, Riqq
Emad Botros, Vocals