Musical Performance: Master Percussionist Souhail Kaspar and Rachid Halihal: An Evening from the Gulf

Sat, May 16, 2009 9:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Souhail Kaspar - Percussion
Rachid Halihal - Voice and 'Oud

and special guest artists

Doors open at 8:30 p.m.

Purchase tickets online here:

* * * * *

The term "Khaliji" ( خلجيه ) has come to represent the culture of the Arab nations of the Persian/Arabian Gulf. The music of these nations has gained tremendous popularity throughout the Arab World in recent years.

Khaliji rhythmic patterns are distinct from the classical rhythms of the Middle East. The latter vary widely and are based on using a tabla (aka darabukka) or riqq (tambourine) while the typically compound Gulf rhythms utilize frame drums such as tars and bendirs. Complex sequences of hand clapping are also a fundamental part of the rhythmic background. The distinguishing factor of Gulf orchestration is their high tendency to maintain the ‘oud as a primary instrument.

Join Master Percussionist Souhail Kaspar, considered one of the finest Arab percussionists in the world, along with gifted Moroccan singer and 'oudist Rachid Halihal in a night of the rhythms and songs of love and passion of this region.


Grammy-nominated Souhail Kaspar is a master percussionist, known worldwide for his brilliant technique, exciting performances, and teaching skills. A true virtuoso,his ability to improvise and embellish the rhythmic patterns of Arabic music, as well as his knowledge of ethnic musical history, have made him one of the most highly acclaimed performer/instructors of our day.

Born in Lebanon and trained at Nadi al-Fonun al-Arabia (Conservatory of traditional Arabic Music) in Aleppo, Syria, he excelled in both classical and ethnic rhythmic patterns and techniques, and received a Degree in Classical Arabic Performance. He has traveled extensively during his career and has performed with artists such as Sting and Kenny Burrell, and with Arabic superstars such as Sabah, Fairouz, Cheb Mami, George Wassouf, Ragheb Alama, Kathem al-Saher, and Faiza Ahmed.

He has an impressive body of recorded work, including credits on the soundtracks for the movies The Prince of Egypt and Sinbad, the documentaries Darfur Now and The Great Bazaars, and as a guest percussionist with the cutting-edge Kronos Quartet on the CD Caravan. Since the late 1970s, Mr. Kaspar has also appeared with Dr. Ali Jihad Racy at a wide variety of cultural events and performed in major concert halls, master classes, and workshops throughout the United States. He has worked with legendary Egyptian composers Farid al-Atrash, Sayyed Makowi, and Hanni Mehanna. Mr. Kaspar is a recipient of a Durfee Music Fellowship given to master musicians and teachers.

Currently, Souhail Kaspar lives in Los Angeles and performs, records and teaches both nationally and internationally. His most recent recording is the acclaimed Khaliji CD, a collection of popular songs from the Saudi Arabian pensinsula.

Souhail drum solo video:
Souhail’s website:

Rachid Halihal is a world-class musician who brings to the community the true character and spirit of music from the classical Egyptian repertoire which is much loved throughout the Middle East; from the Fertile Crescent; from diverse regions of Morocco and North Africa; and also the mezmerizing music of the Arabian Gulf.

Rachid studied Western classical and Andalus music at the Conservatory of Music in Fez, Morocco. In addition to his voice, which is best featured in the Andalus style, his strongest instruments are the oud and the violin, which he plays in both the classical manner and upright resting on the knee for Moroccan folkloric music.

Rachid spent seven years managing a night club, house band, and folkloric troupe in Agadir, Morocco, where he played every night and accompanied many of Morocco's best-known singers and on many occasions played with Mohammed Abdo, one of the Arabian Gulf's most-loved singers. He has traveled the world and is now based in Denver. Since moving to the United States, Rachid has played and toured with a number of groups including the Chicago Classical Oriental Ensemble, Souhail Kaspar, and Algerian rai music superstar Rachid Taha.

Rachid's website:

Tickets: $20/$15 students with I.D.

Online Ticket Purchase:
General Admission: $20 plus $1 online purchase surcharge; $20 purchase at the door.
Students (with valid I.D.): $15 plus $1 online purchase surcharge; $15 purchase at the door .


Last updated: 2009-05-06 17:21:12

Souhail Kaspar
Souhail Kaspar
Rachid Halihal
Rachid Halihal

Alwan for the Arts

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(between Broad St. and Broadway)
New York, NY 10004
(646) 732-3261

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