From Cairo to Bukhara
In December The World Music Institute presented a program called From Cairo to Bukhara, a selection of Arab music. Nadim Dlaikan opened on the nay, which is a reed flute, and other solo instruments, playing Lebanese folk music. The nay has a wonderful sound, with ghosts of undertones along with the clear main pitch. The mizmar has quite a different quality, like a bagpipe, but abrasive. It's meant for outdoor play - in fact, it's call a shepherd's flute. Mr. Dlaikan joked that we may want to cover our ears before he started playing this one!
Dlaikan was followed by music from the Anatolian Armenians by Richard Hogapian and two other musicians. Hogapia himself played the ud, which is an instrument with 11 strings, and sang. His son was on the zither, while the third musician handled percussion. This marvelous music was comprised of both folk and classical pieces, dance and love songs.
The first half of the program closed with Bukharan music (Bukhara is in the
Uzbek Republic) performed by Fatima Kuinova and the ensemble Shashmaqam. The
term shashmaqam also refers to the musical style of that region. The
nine-person group performed in traditional costume, and included a lively dancer.
This music, with its unison singing, was bold and festive. However, I found
it difficult. Perhaps in the open air, without electronic amplification, it
would lose its harsh quality. Not all of Shashmaqam's work has this sound.
The evening's second half featured Simon Shaheen and the Near Eastern Music Ensemble, a terrific group of musicians. Near Eastern Music offers us a shower of notes. We hear the pattern within the spray instead of a simple lead as in western music. It's complex and delicate. Once our ears have accepted this different musical language, we find in it an array of subtle emotions. Let's hope The Word Music Institute continues to coax us out of our musical complacency.
- Steve Capra