Amir ElSaffar's Rivers of Sound

Power Center for the Performing Arts
121 Fletcher Street,
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
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The highest ideal in maqam music is to reach a state of tarab, or musical ecstasy, which results from the melting away of borders as performers and audiences revel together in the music. As pitches and rhythms become fluid, so do cultural boundaries: elements that traditionally divide musicians and genre-specific modes are recontextualized in a fresh, transcultural soundscape. Rivers of Sound presents 17 musicians from Western and Middle Eastern traditions, from Iraqi maqam to American jazz, creating a unique microtonal musical environment that moves beyond the notions of style and tradition into a realm of sound that includes both improvised and composed material. Composer, trumpeter, santur player, and vocalist Amir ElSaffar is an expert in both jazz and Iraqi maqam and shows off his large-scale ensemble to Ann Arbor for this special presentation; ElSaffar and select members of the group also provide the live music for Ragamala Dance Company’s Written in Water two nights later.
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