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Program Notes | Photos

Multi-Ethnic Star Orchestra Presents Its Fall Concert

Saturday, 05 October 2002 at West Los Angeles College

P r o g r a m

Longa Sultani Yegah: by Tamburi Cemil Bey--Arr. Nabil Azzam
This very well known piece is usually performed by 'ud and qanun players as a showcase composition. There is little evidence that the opening section of this piece was composed by Cemil Bey. Thematically the first section fits the general style of an introduction, usually in slow tempo. One can notice the change in meter in the slow introduction; it alternates between 6/4 and 5/4. The longa is easily recognized by its lively duple meter.

Sama`i Shadd 'Araban: by Tamburi Cemil Bey--Arr. Nabil Azzam
(World Premier)
Sama'i is a traditional instrumental genre in Arabic and Turkish music. MESTO is presenting "Sama'I Shadd Araban" with a new arrangement that includes, among other elements, solos for non-Middle Eastern instruments. The fourth section (khana) features a new melodic line in the style of a chorale with woodwinds and celli simultaneously playing with the fast melody. Due to the long-established nature of this form, the arranger was careful to take stylistic characterization into consideration and maintain taste and craftsmanship while suiting ethnic music to a large orchestra.

Never On Sunday: by Manos Hadjidakis--Arr. Shelly Cohen
The Greek composer Manos Hadjidakis began his musical career in Athens as a writer of piano music. In 1946, he really found his true vocation writing for films, an indeed was rewarded for his efforts by receiving an Academy Award in 1960 for his song "Never On Sunday." Many recordings have been made of this haunting tune which tells of a prostitute in Greece who refused to work on Sunday, her day of rest. Listen to traditional Greek rhythms and a simple but very attractive melody as they carry you to the streets of Athens.

Uskudara--Arr. Shelly Cohen
Many lyrics in different languages have been written to this melody. Originally, it is a Turkish fold song from Istanbul--the Anatolian side. The first line of the song reads, "while I was going to Uskudar" (the name of the neighborhood). There is more than one rendition in Arabic. Egyptians sing the tune with the lyrics, "Ya Banat Iskindiriyya" (The Girls of Alexandria) and a Syrian version of the song is "Ghazali" (My Beautiful Deer). Greek and Persian songs exist that use this same Turkish melody.

Miserlou--Arr. Shelly Cohen
When the popular song "Miserlou" was first introduced to the Western audience, it was thought to be of Greek origin. That presumption was recently contested in strange, contradictory ways. New studies by musicologists have argued that the origins of this haunting melody may lie not with the Greeks but possibly with age-old Hasidic music. Others go farther to attribute "Miserlou" to Druze origins of Southern Lebanon! But the tune "Miserlou" was composed by an unknown composer in Hollywood. The name "Miserlou" in Turkish means "The Egyptian" (in Arabic, Misr is the name of Egypt). In any form though, this tune still rings pleasantly in our ears.

Carnival of Venice: by Antonio Paganini--Arr. Shelly Cohen
Lilit Khojayan, Solo Qanun
(World Premier)
Originally, this was an Italian melody for which Antonio Paganini composed his variations for violin. It has fast and complicated passages that require a high degree of technique to perform on the violin. Performing this composition on a folk instrument such as the qanun is truly unique. The ability of Lilit Khojayan to perform these variations as well as other complicated works places her among the top qanun performers in the world.

Part II

Bhibbak Ya Libnan: by the Rahbani Brothers
Nabil Azzam, Solo Violin

"Bhibbak Ya Libnan" was sung by the celebrated singer Fairuz at the height of Lebanon's civil war and rallied people from all factions under one patriotic theme. The violin "sings" the vocal part while the orchestra maintains the original accompaniment. The virtuosity of the violinist highlights the mellow yet vibrant tone of this beautiful composition by the Rahbanis.

Inta Umri (You Are My Life), Song of Umm Kulthum: by M. 'Abd al-Wahhab
Laurette Ghoulam, Star Guest Singer

Thursday, February 5, 1964 was a landmark in the history of Arab music. One didn't have to be a music lover to feel the event's significance as the prime singer of the Arab World, Umm Kulthum, performed her first song written by foremost Egyptian composer, M. 'Abd al-Wahhab. That concert was aired live on nearly all Egypt's radio stations and electrified the atmosphere. In Egypt, even news broadcasts on the radio were canceled and streets experienced light traffic. Tonight is Laurette Ghoulam's first performance with MESTO. Her professional interpretation of the style of "Grand Songs" of Umm Kulthum and other singers has won her a great deal of notoriety with her audiences. Her well-known mastery of singing this genre of songs from Lebanon, Syria and Egypt shows that Laurette Ghoulam's voice is pure, strong and has a good range.

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