Musical Performance: Third Annual Maqam Fest (Official Showcase of APAP Conference)

Fri, January 10, 2014 7:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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The Annual Showcase for the Association of Perfoming Arts Presenters (APAP) Conference, Co-Presented by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance (CTMD) and Alwan for the Arts

The Third Annual Maqam Fest features exceptional ensembles from New York and around the world that have a unique approach and perspective on maqam. Developed over millenia, maqam is a complex system of musical modes and represents one of the great legacies of the Arab-Islamic world, pervading the musical cultures from the Maghreb (Northwest Africa) to Western China, and from the Balkans to the Sudan. Maqam Fest articulates the tradition of maqam within an evolving world that musically constructs, connects and reconstructs convention.

Maqam Fest 2014
celebrates a line-up that pays tribute to this tradition featuring long-honored practices, explorations of historic ties between diverse musical styles and an examination of contemporary compositions and improvisations. This showcase is part of the Annual Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) Conference, one of the most anticipated events in the performing arts field, which brings thousands of presenters, agents, managers and artists in the fields of dance, theater and music from around the world to New York City each January.


Eva Salina
Re-imagined Songs of Balkan Legends

Reflective rubab from Afghanistan

Sazet Band
High- Octane Romani Horns

Kinan Azmeh
Soaring clarinet improvisations over hypnotic grooves

Tarek Yamani
Afro-Tarab Jazz and Arab Intersections

Mitra Sumara
Farsi Funk of Pre-Revolutionary Iran

Alwan Ensemble
Vibrant Explorations of Arab Tradition


Advance: $30 General Admission | $25 for Students, Members and Seniors. BUY NOW*

Limited tickets available at the door

(*A small online fee is applied - use printout as your ticket).

Free for APAP badge holders

Doors open at 6:45 pm


More on the Maqam Fest's 2014 Line-Up


The resident ensemble of Alwan for the Arts, the Alwan Ensemble delivers a joyful and transporting range of classical songs from the greater Arab World, built around 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 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)


Eva Salina became immersed in Balkan music and culture as a young child, and has quickly risen as one of the leading interpreters of Balkan vocal traditions in the US. Mentored over the last 22 years by numerous accomplished and generous musicians, Eva's agile, rich, nuanced voice moves between traditions with an ease and expression that belies her youth. Peter Stan is a Serbian Romani accordionist known equally for his playfulness and innovation as he is for his undeniably soulful, intuitive improvisations. Together, Eva and Peter draw on a strong musical friendship, the diversity of their creative professional experiences, and their shared love of Balkan Romani music, creating a welcoming space where joy and sorrow seamlessly coexist. In their performance, mournful ballads nestle gently among songs of celebration, bringing the listener on a journey that encapsulates both the beauty and the complexity of daily life.

More on Eva Salina


Hailed as a “virtuoso” by the New York Times and "Incredibly Rich sound" by the CBC, Kinan Azmeh is one of Syria’s rising stars. His utterly distinctive sound across different musical genres is now fast gaining international recognition. Born in Damascus, Kinan was the first Arab to win the premier prize at the 1997 Nicolai Rubinstein International Competition, Moscow. A graduate of New York's Juilliard school as a student of Charles Neidich, and of both the Damascus High institute of Music where he studied with Shukry Sahwki, Nicolay Viovanof and Anatoly Moratof, and Damascus University’s School of Electrical Engineering, Kinan is currently finishing his doctoral work at the City University of New York. Kinan has appeared worldwide as a soloist, composer and improviser. Notable appearances include: Opera Bastille, Paris; Tchaikovsky Grand Hall, Moscow; Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall and the UN's general assembly, New York; the Royal Albert hall, London; Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires; der Philharmonie; Berlin; the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, Washington DC; the Mozarteum, Salzburg and the Damascus opera house for its opening concert in his native Syria.

More on Kinan Azmeh


Born and raised in Beirut, Tarek is an award winning composer and a self-taught jazz pianist who got exposed to Jazz around the age of 19. He developed a personal composition and playing style, called Afro Tarab, that embodies Arabic rhythms and modes with the complex African American sounds of jazz and vice versa. Shortly after the release of his debut record “ASHUR”, Tarek’s music has been reaching out internationally - in Piano Solo, Piano Trio or larger formats - and has so far been very well received in prestigious venues such as the MuCEM museum (Marseille), the United Nations Assembly Hall (NYC), the Blue Whale (Los Angeles), the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria), the Ennejma Ezzahra (Tunis), and the Iridium (NYC), to name just a few. In 2010, Tarek won the "Thelonious Monk Int'l Jazz Composer’s Competition" for his composition "Sama'i Yamani" which is released as a single featuring singer Rasha Rizk. On April 30th 2012, Tarek was invited to be among the 32 musicians from 13 countries to perform in the inaugural of the "International Jazz Day" held at the UN headquarters in New York - along with Wayne Shorter, Richard Bona, Zakir Hussein & Vinnie Colaiuta- a celebration announced by UNESCO and Herbie Hancock to proclaim jazz as an international language. Tarek is now touring with his Piano Solo and Piano Trio performances whose repertoire ranges from Arabic, Brazilian & Jazz standards to original compositions that are based in rhythms and modes from the Arabic world.

More on Tarek Yamani


Quraishi is a world-class Afghan-American rubab player. Quraishi’s father made him his first rubab, an ancient instrument belonging to the short-necked lute family. Indeed, his family lineage and earliest influences include instrument makers and musicians and while growing up in Kabul, the self-taught artist quickly became well-versed in the folk styles and regional genres of the numerous ethnic groups, including the Pashtu, Uzbek, and Tajik. Quraishi also immersed himself in the principals of classical Hindustani music theory that constitute the foundation of Afghanistan’s traditional music. Since immigrating to the U.S., Quraishi has become rare and vital link between the rich tradition of classical Afghan court music and the future of Afghanistan’s musical identity. Quraishi has performed throughout the U.S. headlining concerts at Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

More on Quraishi


Sazet Band, an eight-piece Romani wedding band from New York City comprised of Roma musicians from Macedonia and Turkey, was formed in 2011 under the leadership of clarinetist extraordinaire Sal Mamudoski and dynamite saxophonist Romeo Kurtali. This high octane band performs what it describes as a "New York City-style" of Roma music: traditional folk and Romani music from the Balkans (Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Albania, Greece and Turkey) with influences from classical, jazz, funk, techno, and fusion styles of Western music. Sazet Band performs frequently for weddings and other community celebrations, and has appeared as part of the annual New York Gypsy Festival, and at GoldenFest, New York’s largest Balkan music event.

More on Sazet Band


Mitra Sumara is a New York City-based big band that pays homage to the vibrant pop and funk music of 60s/70s Iran. The band takes off on the sound of pre-Revolutionary Iran, which mixed the beats of Fela Kuti, salsa, and disco with Middle Eastern melodies and tragic poetry. Mitra Sumara captures all this while injecting a contemporary spirit into the infectious originals. The group plays hits by Iran’s beloved divas Googoosh, Pari Zangeneh, Parva, and intoxicating Bandari beat tunes by Zia Atabi. Mitra Sumara is the creation of Brooklyn-based half-Iranian lead singer Yvette Perez. Adopted and raised by American parents, Yvette founded this new group after studying Farsi and re-uniting with her Iranian birth father just three years ago. This project is a unique culmination of a family reunion story and cross-cultural music performance. Mitra Sumara is a distinctive mix of established players from definitive NYC music scenes. Yvette Perez (vocals) led NYC’s avant-pop/jazz no-wave inspired brass quintet Birdbrain. Peter Zummo (trombone) and Bill Ruyle (hammer dulcimer) are former members of the late Arthur Russell’s many bands. Michael Evans (percussion) has collaborated with experimental jazz and rock artists Michael Gira, Alex Hacke, David Grubbs, Carla Bley, among many others. Julian Maile (guitar) is a member of New York’s Loser’s Lounge all-star tribute house band, has been a hired gun for the likes of Vitamin C, Joan Jett and part of the original production of Hedwig and the Angry Itch. Sam Kulik (bass) collaborates with Brooklyn-based avant-rock duo Talibam! and performs with Starring as well as experimental theatre group The Talking Band.

More on Mitra Sumara



Alwan for the Arts is a vibrant downtown hub for Middle Eastern arts and culture in New York. With a year-round calendar of film screenings, concerts, literary readings and discussions in its loft space in Lower Manhattan, Alwan has been a hub of artistic activity and creative experimentation since its inception in 1998. Alwan’s music programming is innovative, while honoring the traditions of the greater Middle East. The program includes a bi-weekly concert series that takes place at Alwan’s own space, in addition to marquee events in larger venues throughout the city.

CTMD (Center for Traditional Music and Dance)

The Center for Traditional Music and Dance, one of the nation’s premier traditional arts organizations, is dedicated to maintaining the vibrancy of the performing arts traditions of New York’s ethnic and immigrant communities through grass-roots community organizing, research-based educational programming and public performances. Celebrating over 45 years, CTMD continues to be a vital resource for introducing audiences to vibrant ethnic music and dance traditions from around the globe. By introducing the traditional arts to broader audiences, CTMD plays a significant role in affirming the value of cultural diversity as an essential component of our national identity. For more information, visit .


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: 2014-01-10 17:14:37

Sazet Band
Sazet Band
Kinan Azmeh
Kinan Azmeh
Alwan Ensemble
Alwan Ensemble
Mitra Sumara
Mitra Sumara
Tarek Yamani
Tarek Yamani
Eva Salina
Eva Salina

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