Musical Performance: Second Annual Maqam Fest

Fri, January 11, 2013 7:30 pm at Alwan for the Arts

(View all musical performances »)

Co-produced with the Center for Traditional Music and Dance

Maqam Fest is Alwan’s biggest annual music event, showcasing six of the most exciting ensembles from New York and around the U.S., each bringing its own unique approach and variation on maqam music. Developed more than a millennium ago, maqam is a complex system of musical modes and represents one of the great legacies of the Arab-Islamic world. Maqam pervades the musical cultures from the Maghreb (Northwest Africa) to Western China, from the Balkans to the Sudan. Maqam Fest 2013 celebrates a line-up that pays tribute to this long-honored tradition and alluring geographic spectrum, featuring ancient traditions, explorations of historic ties between musical styles, and contemporary compositions and improvisations.

This year's Maqam Fest line-up includes:

Ahmet Erdoğdular
Sufi and Ottoman Classical music from Turkey
Eva Salina
Re-imagined songs of Balkan Romani legends of the 60s, 70s, and 80s
New Andalucia
Flamenco and Arab intersections
Alwan Arab Music Ensemble
Traditional music of Cairo, Aleppo, and Baghdad
Original compositions in Arab and Middle Eastern style
Amino Belyamani’s SSAHHA
Compositions and improvisations over Moroccan grooves with a re-tuned piano

Maqam Fest articulates the tradition of the maqam within a thriving forum that interlinks, interconnects, constructs and deconstructs on a musical plane that rises above convention and the ordinary. The age-old concept of maqam and its transcendence of national and geographic borders align with Alwan’s vision towards diversifying the cultural experience in New York and providing a space where art, music and performance can be negotiated creatively, while informing and being informed by other traditions.

This showcase is part of the annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) Conference. One of the most anticipated events of the performing arts field, this convention brings thousands of presenters, agents, managers, artists from around the country and the world in the fields of dance, theater, and music to New York City each January.


Advance: $30 General Admission | $25 for Students, Members and Seniors. BUY NOW* (*A small online fee is applied - use printout as your ticket).


Free for APAP badge holders.

Doors open at 6:45 p.m.

Praise for Maqam Fest 2012

"The best show of the [APAP] weekend was the first annual Maqamfest at Alwan for the Arts…the players on the bill were not only some of the most important and creative Middle Eastern musicians outside the Middle East: they’re some of the most important and creative Middle Eastern musicians anywhere in the world. They make their home at Alwan for the Arts downtown, where a vital, cutting-edge scene has evolved. What the Paris salons of a hundred years ago were for classical, the 52nd Street clubs were for jazz in the forties and fifties and what CBGB was for punk rock in the 70s, Alwan for the Arts is for music from the Middle East now. Unsurprisingly, the acts on the bill each brought classical purism, jazzlike improvisation and some punk rock fearlessness too." (more) - Lucid Culture


Maqam Fest 2013 Line Up

The resident ensemble of Alwan for the Arts, the Alwan Ensemble delivers a joyful and transporting feast of well-loved classical songs from the greater Arab World, built around mesmerizing textures of rhythmic and improvisational intensity. In the classical art music traditions of Cairo, Aleppo, and Baghdad—three important Arab cities with great legacies in art and culture—each has a unique repertory: the dawr and qasida of Cairo; the Andalucían muwashshahat of Aleppo; and al-maqam al-Iraqi of Baghdad; with distinct characteristics, rules, and aesthetics. Yet all adhere to the maqam and place great importance on poetry and the vocal melody sung either by a soloist or a chorus, and accompanied by ensembles of traditional instruments, including the oud (lute), qanun (zither), nay (flute), violin, santur (hammered dulcimer), riqq (tambourine), and tabla (goblet drum).

Six contemporary masters of a broad range of Arab musical idioms display their seasoned sensibilities and impressive technique across a diverse array of musical selections from regional folk songs to masterpieces of Egyptian cinema and Arab concert hall culture. The Alwan Ensemble’s performance evokes ambiances of Cairo, Baghdad, al-Quds and Aleppo, but more importantly that of contemporary New York with its own vibrant Arab American artistic and intellectual community.

George Ziadeh (oud, vocals) | Sami Abu Shumays (violin, vocals) | Zafer Tawil (qanun, violin, vocals, percussion) | Amir ElSaffar (santur, vocals) | Apostolis Sideris (double bass)

In 711 A.D., Arabs first crossed Gibraltar into Iberia. For the next eight centuries a tremendous exchange would take place. Great minds, ideas and art would cross the strait back and forth and create a rich mix that transcended the boundaries of religion, ethnicity and language. It is in this esthemus, this land in between, that giants such as Averroes, Maimonides, Alfonso El Sabio and Zyriab would emerge. Thirteen centuries later, New Andalucia's musicians strive to recreate this era through their music as immigrants in New York City.

Alfonso Mugaburo Cid (Vocals, Flute and Cajón) | Arturo Martínez (Guitar) | Ramzi Edlibi (Percussion and Dance) | Zafer Tawil (Oud, Violin, Nay) | Taoufiq Ben Amor (Vocals, Oud and Percussion) | Maya de Silva (Flamenco dance)

The commanding, luscious voice of Eva Salina brings a distinctive new sound to a historically male repertoire. This newly-formed, all-star group performs re-imagined songs of Balkan Romani legends from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. A native of Santa Cruz, California, Eva has been studying, performing and teaching Balkan music since she was a young child. She has studied with some of the greatest living singers of Balkan traditional music. Eva's rich, versatile, agile, deep and powerful voice and her enthusiastic, skillful, inspired and inspiring teaching have led her to quickly become known as a preeminent singer, interpreter, and teacher of Traditional Balkan vocal music, singing through the traditions of Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and the Romani people. She has also studied Georgian, Corsican, Traditional American, and Ukrainian singing. Eva has collaborated to varying degrees (performing, touring, recording, and teaching) with many Balkan and American musicians, including Slavic Soul Party!, Which Way East, Kadife, Veveritse, Choban Elektrik, Seido Salifoski's Romski Boji, Édessa, Tzvetanka Varimezova, Italian Balkan/Jazz Project Opa Cupa, and KITKA. Eva received a B.A. in Ethnomusicology from UCLA, where she studied with Tzvetanka Varimezova. From 2009-2011, Eva toured primarily with Ash (Æ), a vocal duo focused on the traditions of the Balkans, Appalachia, Caucasus Georgia, and Corsica. Currently, Eva is developing her own band, Eva Salina, featuring many prominent New York-based musicians, as well as various other collaborations based in New York, Los Angeles, and Europe. Eva resides in Brooklyn, NY, and performs and teaches nationally and internationally at camps, workshops and festivals.

Eva Salina Primack (voice) | Frank London (trumpet) | Ron Caswell (tuba) | Adam Good (guitar) | Chris Stromquist (percussion) | Nezih Antakli (davul, darbuka)

Led by violinist/composer Dena El Saffar, Salaam has delighted audiences for years with its expansive repertoire of Middle Eastern and North African music. Salaam is true to the traditions, informing the uninitiated, and evoking nostalgia in listeners who are familiar with the art form. What sets Salaam apart is the versatility of its musicians, whose deep knowledge of Eastern and Western styles gives them the flexibility to move effortlessly between genres. Dena El Saffar's compositions take advantage of this, creating a sound rooted in maqam (the modal system used throughout the Middle East), with forays into Balkan, Rock, Blues, and Classical styles . Salaam, whose name means peace in Arabic, is a musical ambassador for peaceful coexistence. Dena El Saffar, of Iraqi and American heritage, was exposed to Arabic music in the suburbs of Chicago, where she grew up attending Iraqi gatherings with her family. She began learning the violin at the age of six. At age 17, completely engaged in classical music, she accompanied her father to Baghdad and fell in love with the music of Iraq and the Middle East. In 1993, while obtaining a classical music degree from Indiana University, she founded Salaam. She has studied with Hamid Al-Saadi, Munis Sharifov, Mohammed Gomar and Anwar Abudragh, and has performed with the Master Musicians of Jajouka and Youssou N’dour. Dena, who plays the viola, violin, joza and kemanche, has also performed with Central Eurasian ensembles, salsa groups, bluegrass, blues and rock bands.

Dena El Saffar (violin, jowza, compositions) | Amir ElSaffar (trumpet, santur) | Ole Mathisen (saxophone) | Stephen Harms (double-bass) | Tim Moore (percussion) |

SSAHHA is a North African ensemble led by Moroccan pianist, percussionist and composer Amino Belyamani. He and his ensemble of masterful musicians create melancholic and festive melodies accompanied by hypnotic North African grooves. Amino tunes his pianos according to alternative tuning systems, as opposed to Western equal temperament, creating a unique sound both for the piano and the band.

Born and raised in Casablanca, Morocco, Amino Belyamani began playing the piano by the age of six. Throughout his childhood and adolescence, he participated in many national and international piano competitions and received several awards and first prizes from renowned international pianists such as France Clidat. Before even graduating from high school, he had acted the lead role in a short movie directed by Lahcen Zinoun entitled Le Piano, where he performed as the lead piano player with Morocco's national philharmonic orchestra. After a couple of years spent in France, Belyamani left for the United States to absorb improvisational musical forms at the California Institute of the Arts. As well as being a pianist, Amino plays traditional Moroccan folk percussion and Ghanaian drums. He has also composed music for both instrumental and electro-acoustic traditions. Amino has recorded original compositions on four consecutive jazz compilations at the prestigious Capitol Records under the EMI record label. Amino's music reflects the diversity of his interests, which usually translates into a blend of complex african rhythms, arabic melodies, western classical music, and jazz.

Amino Belyamani (piano, percussion, sintir, vocals, composition) | Qasim Naqvi (drums) | Sam Minaie (bass) | Houman Pourmehdi (nay, percussion) | Brahim Fribgane (oud, percussion, vocals) | Shelley Thomas (vocals, percussion) | |

Ahmet Erdoğdular is one of Turkey’s foremost vocalists, noted for his role in preserving the classical singing style of the Ottoman Turkish musical tradition, in addition to his powerful, expressive voice, and sophisticated vocal technique. Erdoğdular started studying music at an early age with his father, neyzen Ömer Erdoğdular, and continued his musical development under the guidance of the renowned musician Niyazi Sayın. He is specialized in Turkish makam and gazel (improvisation) techniques of the late Ottoman period, with an emphasis on matching poetry to music so that the literary
substance and the musical composition are equally represented when performing vocal improvisations. Ahmet also performs centuries-old Sufi musical repertoire that integrates spiritual practice and artistic expression. Ahmet has participated in various festivals in Turkey, Europe, Asia and the United States, performing both Ottoman classical and Sufi music, and is president and artistic director of Makam New York, Inc., a non-profit organization for Turkish classical music and arts. His two recent albums, Songs of the Sultans-Masterpieces of Turkish Classical Music and Niyaz-Sufi Songs of Love, have received worldwide acclaim.

Ahmet Erdogdular (voice, percussion, tanbur) | Peter Daverington (ney) | Adam Good (oud) | Eylem Basaldi (violin) |


Alwan's music program is made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council.

Last updated: 2013-01-11 18:00:34

Ahmet Erdogdular
Ahmet Erdogdular
Eva Salina Primack
Eva Salina Primack
New Andalucia
New Andalucia
Alwan Arab Music Ensemble
Alwan Arab Music Ensemble

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