Musical Performance: NYC Jazz Meets Maqam Festival: Ilham

Sat, May 10, 2008 9:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

(View all musical performances »)

$15 ($10 Students with valid ID)

House opens 8:30PM


Gaida Hinnawi (Vocals)
Rufus Cappadocio (Cello)
Amir ElSaffar (Santoor, Trumpet)
Brahim Fribgane (Oud, Percussion)
Tareq Abboushi (Buzuq)


Ilham is Arabic for "inspiration," and this collaborative quartet relies on the inspiration of the moment and the interplay of three different traditions to create new music with deep roots. Vocalist Gaida Hinnawi is featured, weaving her acrobatic, highly emotional singing with the cello of Rufus Cappadocia, the trumpet and santur (Iraqi hammered dulcimer) of Amir ElSaffar, and the oud and percussion of Ibrahim Fribgane. The group will perform original compositions with striking new sounds and an emphasis on improvisation transcending conventional boundaries.


Gaida Hinnawi
is a vocalist and composer working at the intersection of the New York Arab and improvised music scenes. Her compositions draw at once on classical Arabic song, Syrian folk traditions, and free improvisations that expand on traditional Arabic maqams (modes) to produce an original and highly personal style marked by great emotional intensity. An acclaimed singer from an early age, Gaida was raised in Damascus and later lived in Kuwait, Paris, and Detroit, where she received classical voice training at Wayne State University. Gaida has composed and recorded for major motion pictures, including Jonathan Demme's Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains, in which she recorded with Gillian Welsh and Alejandro Escovedo. Gaida also maintains a parallel career as a speech pathologist.

Tareq Abboushi is a graduate with honors from William Paterson University with a B.M. in Jazz Piano Performance. Abboushi has been playing the buzuq for more than a decade, starting at the National Conservatory of Music in Ramallah, Palestine. He has performed with such notable musicians as Simon Shaheen (Symphony Space), David Brosa (The United Nations, Saint John the Divine Cathedral), Omar Farouk Tekbilek, and Dan Zanes (Prospect Park's Celebrate Brooklyn Festival). He has given numerous lecture demonstrations about Arabic Music at Columbia University, NYU, Juilliard, The Museum of the City of New York, and the Children’s Museums of Brooklyn and Manhattan. He is part of many groups in the New York area and is leading and composing for his own quintet SHUSMO, playing mostly original compositions of Middle Eastern/Jazz fusion. He has composed several scores for films and radio programs and was featured on several albums. He won two prizes for best film score and best CD.

Rufus Cappadocia has built a solid reputation as one of the most innovative and versatile cellists, performing at well-known venues and music festivals throughout Europe and North America. Playing on a self-designed five string cello that combines an extended technique of the bass and cello, he is able to function as both a lead and rhythm section instrument. He has honed his distinct musical voice into a form of playing that combines near eastern music with groove, blues and jazz sensibilities.

Amir ElSaffar, trumpeter, composer, singer, and santoor player, is garnering an international reputation for his work, both in the traditional Iraqi Maqam and in jazz music. He is one of the few in the world that has mastered the Iraqi Maqam, both on the santoor (Iraqi hammered-dulcimer) and as a vocalist. Additionally, he has developed a new approach to playing the trumpet, which utilizes the microtuning and ornaments that are characteristic to Arabic music. His suite, Two Rivers, which combines Iraqi traditional music with Jazz, has received much critical acclaim and has received airplay on radio stations across the US and Canada.

Brahim Fribgane, born and raised in Morocco, grew up surrounded by North African, Gnawa, Berber, Arabic and Andulusian music. Brahim's oud style, whether he's playing folkloric Berber songs, beautifully complex and soulful Arabic music, or the fusion of jazz, samba, reggae or Indian, reveals his openness to all music and appreciation of all people and cultures. Brahim is also a briliant percussionist who takes the dumbek to new levels, alternately blending and contrasting rhythms while at the same time keeping his listeners and fellow musicians rhythmically secure.

To hear a recent live recording of Rufus, Gaida, and Amir on WNYC, please click here

Last updated: 2008-05-08 14:16:59

Alwan for the Arts

16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor
(between Broad St. and Broadway)
New York, NY 10004
(646) 732-3261

Alwan Auction 2016

Join Our Mailing List:



Classes are currently being scheduled. Please check back soon for updates.



There are currently no upcoming events.


16 Beaver Street
4th Floor
New York, NY 10004
(646) 732 3261
Email Us

Alwan for the Arts is accessible to people with disabilities. Please call 646 732 3261 in advance, or, buzz at the door to arrange a ramp.

© 2020 Alwan for the Arts

Hosting donated by:, the Arabic Encyclopedia