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Program Notes | Photos

Multi-Ethnic Star Orchestra Presents its debut concert

Sunday, 11 March 2001 at West Los Angeles College

P r o g r a m

Sama'i in maqam Kurd: Ya'qub Tatius
Arranged for Mesto by Nabil Azzam with Kareem Roustom.

This sama'i is widely heard in concerts and recordings throughout the Middle East. It is composed in maqam (scale) kurd and contains four different sections with one that repeats after each section. In this arrangement one can clearly hear some innovations such as prolonging the form and inserting new phrases as well as variety of embellishments and instrumentation. The sama'i is composed in rhythmic cycle of slow 8/10 except for the last part that is in fast tempo.

Longa Kurd: Jamil Owais
Arranged for Mesto by Kareem Roustom

In classical Turkish/Arabic traditions, concerts often open with a medley in the same maqam. The Sama'i is followed by Longa; A fast composition in douple meter. In this arrangement Roustom successfully used both the traditional takht ensemble and the orchestra. Kareem Roustom also plays the ud with Mesto.

Greek Suite composed and arranged by Miamon Miller
From the opening zambekiko to the island balos and ending with a karsilimas, this three-part suite traverses through diverse Greek identities from big city smoke-filled tavernas, to the sunny islands and finally back to the mainland village. Of particular note is the inherent flexibility of the music (and musicians) that permits cross-cultural improvisatory solos in the balos. Miamon Miller is also a violinist with Mesto.

Sephardic Melody
Variation composed by Nabil Azzam. Arranged by Kareem Roustom

This basic melody is widely heard among the Sephardic communities in Spain and the Balkan area. The text is written in Ladino (a language mixed of Spanish and Hebrew). Azzam added two distinctive to the original song melodies. In this arrangement Roustom assigns the main melody to the clarinet.

A'tini al-Nay: Najieb Hankash. Solo violin: Nabil Azzam
This melody is originally a song by the celebrated poet Khalil Gibran. It was recorded by the Lebanese singer Fairuz in the 1970s. The title could be translated as "the eternal Nay (flute). In this performance Nabil Azzam plays the vocal part on his violin while leading the orchestra.

The Introduction of Banadi Alaik: Farid el-Atrache
Arranged by Nabil Azzam

"Grand Songs" is the name Nabil Azzam gave to songs composed in Egypt starting in the 1940s that employed large ensemble emulating the Western orchestras. Farid el-Atrache (d. 1975) was one of the most talented singers and composers. He also performed a number of his works using large orchestras. Farid el-Atrache composed in a style that contains Western musical element, including melodic, rhythmic and instrumental. The present composition is the instrumental introduction to the song Lahn al-Khulud or Banadi Alaik.

Part II

Three Songs Featuring Star Singer

Sanarji'u Yawman (Nostalgia): Music and Lyrics by Rahabani Brothers.
Originally, this is one of hundreds of songs by the celebrated Lebanese singer Fairuz who, together with her husband Assi Rahabani and brother Mansour, established a new style and a new musical culture in Lebanon. The Rahabani fame was based on creating a wide variety of repertoire culminated by numerous musicals that they produced for Fairuz.

Yalla Ta'ala (Come Back Soon). Song of Leila Murad
Egyptian singer and movie satar Layla Murad had an interesting career spanning from singing to movie acting. Being the daughter and sister of famous composers, Zaki Murad and Munir Murad shaped her style. She was known for her sweet and expressive voice. Though performing in a popular style, she maintained the purity of musical traditions. Layla Murad was both admired by a wide audience as well as by top composers of Egypt.

El Hilwa Di (This Pretty Girl): Sayyid Darwish
Egyptian composer Sayyid Darwish (d. 1923) is considered the pioneer of the new style. Among his contributions are the numerous musical plays in which he also participated as a singer and actor. Darwish left a number of short songs that were common among wide sectors of society. He is known as the "peoples' composer".

Instrumental Excerpts from the song Bi'umri Kullu (I loved you with all my life) by Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab
Arranged by Nabil Azzam

The original song was performed by the famous singer Wardah in 1984. This is another example of "Grand Songs" that Abd al-Wahhab composed. In this arrangement Nabil Azzam took the instrumental introduction of the song and two "interludes" and formed them into one piece. While the introduction is composed in a scale that is playable by the instruments of the orchestra, the rest of the composition include notes that are not in the Western scale. MESTO members refer to such notes as "red notes";. This composition is rich with melodic themes and rhythmic variety.

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