A number of Kennedy Center “Arabesque” music events sold out in advance including this weekend’s show with wonderful Lebanese oud player Marcel Khalife, and another likely good one with Simon Shaheen, a 15-piece orchestra andguest vocalists in aprogram entitled “Aswat-Celebrating the Golden Age of Arab Music -1920’s to 1950’s.”However, there are a handful of gigs left that are free or with tickets available (and maybe you can score tickets for the sold-out shows somewhere). Do not think that because these performances are at an upscale bastion, that these performers are bland and offering stereotypical middlebrow, overly safe “world music.”Nope, these acts are the real thing, and many of them are challenging and innovative or at least entertaining.
Sunday evening March 8 begins with Hoba Hoba Spirit.They are a Casablanca, Morocco electric guitar and drums led group who play self-described “Haiha Music,” loosely translated as “Wild Partying Music,” inspired by metal-punk, Gnawa, and Sufi sounds.They will be playing for free from 6 to 7 tonight at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage.
The night closes with Fathy Salama and orchestra’s “Sultany.” He is an Egyptian pianist, producer, arranger, and composer who combines traditional middle-eastern harp, tambourine, and percussion sounds with modern influences (funky programmed beats and jazzy piano).He first came on my radar when he collaborated with Youssou N’Dour on that vocalist’s daring and likeable Senegalese meets Arabeque album Egypt.Salama and company will be at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater at 7:30. This program just sold out.
On Thursday March 12, the Oriental Music Ensemble of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Palestine will be playing classical and contemporary Arab music for oud, nay, clarinet, qanun, and percussion for free from 6 to 7 at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage.
I will be highlighting the final March 13 to 15th weekend of Arabesque musical performances later in the week.