Grup Anwar Concert in Vermont


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From Damascus to Vermont: A Syrian Journey

New original compositions of Arabic classical music are unusual, not only in the United States but even in the Arab world. Turath, literally “heritage” in Arabic, describes the musical legacy of the old repertoire dating back hundreds of years. Sadly, popular music, Western influence and the passing of generations have eroded interest in the turath repertoire among both the listening public and young musicians. As a result, the Arabic system of musical composition utilizing maqam, and with it the rich body of work from the Golden Age of Arabic music, is in danger of becoming forgotten.

Maqam is the Arabic modal theory of music. The music is primarily melodic in structure and the listener will note a general absence of harmony. Complexity is developed tonally through layers of contrast in timbre among the various instruments, non-uniformity in their use of ornamentation, and through modulation of maqam. Taqasim is a solo improvisation designed to demonstrate the particular qualities of an instrument through the development of a particular maqam.

Time, place and personal relationships are strongly reflected in Arabic musical composition. Maqams are closely associated with particular moods, time of day and season of the year. The beauty of Vermont and the friendliness and generosity of its people have inspired Anwar to compose a “wasla,” a suite of thematically related compositions. The focus of our concert Wasla Vermont, is a follow-up and companion work to Wasla Damascus, a group of thirteen compositions that were commissioned and broadcast live by the Syrian National Radio Orchestra in Damascus in 2005.

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About Grup Anwar

Grup Anwar was formed in 2011 to bring the classical and popular music of the Middle East to a wider audience in the North Country of New England and New York. The group’s leader, violinist, oudist and composer Anwar Diab Agha, played for many years with the Syrian National Radio and Television Orchestra in Damascus and has toured internationally with the most renowned musicians in the Arab world .

Since moving to this country to join his family Anwar has continued to compose new works in the Arabic Classical style which are a unique feature of the group’s repertoire. Anwar, which means “luminous” in Arabic, accurately reflects the style and substance of this ages-old tradition of music.

Grup Anwar is proud to be the 2014 recipient of the Flynn Center’s Artist’s Space Grant and has also received funding from the Vermont Community Foundation’s Arts Endowment Fund to produce a concert of Maestro Diab Agha’s original music.

Members of Grup Anwar include: Anwar Diab Agha, violin, oud, vocals; Joseph Campanella Cleary, violin, mandolin; Jeffrey Davis, oud, nay; Colin Henkel, doumbek; Chris Schroth, riqq; Gregory White, oud.

 

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