Monday, August 10, 2009

Zikrayat and Arabic Violin

This is a performance by the amazing Arabic music group 'Zikrayat' who perform all over New York. What I love about them is that they are committed to playing music from the golden age of Egyptian and Lebanese film (the 50's-70's) which gives them the classical Arabic vibe I love. I haven't actually seen the movie 'Tamr Henna' which this performance is a reenactment of, but from watching this scene I definitely feel the need to run to the nearest Arabic movie store and buy out their classical film section!

Classical Egyptian films are such a contrast to modern Egyptian films, many of which do not have viable plots and have shoddy art direction. Films from Egypt's golden age just seem like more thought was put into them and in my opinion they are pure works of art. That is part of the reason why classical Egyptian films still have a voice today as opposed to many black and white American films that are dying out with time.

Zikrayat's musical director is violinist Sami Abu Shumays and I was actually so moved by his work that I've decided I want to take Arabic violin lessons with him at his studio! I am trained in western classical violin, so taking Arabic violin will definitely be a change because it is more based on improvisation, listening, and repeating than simply reading music. Shumays professes, "One of the things I love most about Arabic music is how subtle changes have a big effect on listeners.The slightest change in intonation on one note, or the smallest variation in an ornament, can sometimes make audiences shout out in ecstasy. And there is a dialogue between audience and performer, so that the more listners respond to the music, the more performers give (or hold back) what the audience wants, increasing their enjoyment by engaging them in the process of music-making. Arabic music is very rich in detail, rich in variety of intonation, rich in subtle differences in phrasing and expressivity..." I definitely agree, so wish me luck on my next musical journey! :)

Zikrayat at Alwan for the Arts in New York City; Left to Right: Nikolai Ruskin, Dimitri Mikelis, Tareq Abboushi, Bridget Robbins, and Sami Abu Shumays

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