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MESTO Program

November 5, 2006


Sama'i Kurd: by Joseph Chamaa
The sama’i form originated in Turkey and spread throughout the Middle East. Traditionally, composing a sama’i required strict adherence to the recognized structure. The form is characterized by a 10/8 rhythm in the first three sequences, typically followed by a fourth sequence of a different rhythm.  Joseph Chamaa says, "It was my pleasure to make a new arrangement of my Sama’i and dedicate it to the MESTO orchestra. The MESTO spirit has inspired this new orchestration."


The Leopard or “Karamah”: by Nabil Azzam

This orchestral composition was written as a tribute to our patron, HRH Prince Bandar Bin Sultan.  He has strengthened MESTO and contributed to our success.  This piece is made up of themes strung together, depicting an epic poem. It has two titles. The English one was suggested by the composer’s friend Dr. Tarek Shawaf, as he admired the Hollywood movie of the same name. “Karamah” is the Arabic translation of “dignity,” which is illustrated throughout the composition.  There are several sections that are distinct in their melodic motifs, rhythms and instrumentation.


Amman: Lyrics by Henri Zoghaib, music by Nabil Azzam

Guest Singer: Zahra

World Premiere

This song is a tribute to Jordan. It opens with the line, “Amman, you are the rose of Jordan!”  The song was supposed to be performed at the prestigious Jerash Festival in August, 2006.  Conductor Azzam was commissioned to write this work for Jerash’s 25th anniversary.  The annual festival was envisioned by Her Majesty Queen Noor, who created the first event in 1981.  It takes place in the ancient Roman amphitheatres of the city of Jerash, and has gained well-deserved fame throughout the Middle East, attracting world-class artists. MESTO will participate in the 2007 Jerash Festival, presenting a program that demonstrates its varied abilities as an ensemble.


Trapizon Dance: by Tsovak Hambartsymyan

Qanun Solo: Lilit Khojayan

The “Trapizon dance” refers to a folkdance that was traditionally performed in the Trapizon region of Armenia. It was a part of a social event, and involved groups of people who donned attire unique to this part of the country.  The Trapizon dance signifies an important aspect of Armenian folk history, and to this day it is often performed in concert halls. The composer, Tsovak Hambartsumyan, originated from the Trapizon region, and the music evokes his experiences of growing up there.  In 2002, Lilit Khojayan recorded this piece on her first CD “Qanun Virtuoso.” She also recorded it with Dhol accompaniment for MESTO’s upcoming CD.    

Al-Nahr al-Khalid: by M. ‘Abd al-Wahhab, Arr. by Nabil Azzam

This short masterpiece is one of ‘Abd al-Wahhab’s most recognized instrumental introductions. Al-Nahr al-Khalid is often heard as an introduction in traditional Arabic concerts.  The opening cello solo evokes a night scene on the river Nile, while the sequential melody depicts the waves of the river.  ‘Abd al-Wahab often used repeated melodies and call-and-response patterns between the violin and orchestra.  The ‘ud solo at the end of the piece is an interlude from the original song.


Ashiq al-Ruh Medley: by M. ‘Abd al-Wahhab

Arr. Joseph Chamaa and Nabil Azzam

This medley by the great Egyptian composer Muhammad ‘Abd al-Wahhab (1901-1991) consists of three songs: Ashiq al-Ruh (The Lover of the Soul), Watani Habibi (Beloved Homeland) and al-Qamh (The Wheat).  This medley uses the original instrumental introduction from the first song, and the vocal parts from the second and third songs.  This rendition of Ashiq al-Ruh is entirely exclusive to MESTO.  In 1987, Nabil Azzam performed it for Abd al-Wahhab himself at a UCLA reception. Dr. Azzam played violin, accompanied by Mr. Jacque Kojyan on piano and Mr. Pierre Bedrosian on double-bass.  


Ahwak: (I like you!) by M. ‘Abd al-Wahhab

Song of Abdel Halim Hafez, Arr. Nabil Azzam

Middle Eastern audience members will likely remember this Egyptian romantic song. The young Abdel Halim Hafez was already a rising star when the legendary singer-composer Abd al-Wahhab wrote this song for him in 1957.  The melody exemplifies the charm of the era, and also shows musical innovation by Abd al-Wahhab. In the third section, Nabil Azzam performs the enchanting melody on solo violin with minimal accompaniment. The piece ends with a non-traditional broken chord.


Sanada Ghalmaz: by Tofig Guliyev, Mohammad Omranifar, Tar

Tofig Guliyev (1917-2000) was one of the most famous composers in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan. He composed music for over thirty films. Tar Virtuoso Mohammad Omranifar performs the song Sanada Ghalmaz (This Beauty Won’t Last) in an instrumental version where he opens with an improvised cadenza.


Kallimuni Tani: (They talked about you) by M. ‘Abd al-Wahhab,

Arr. Nabil Azzam

Featured percussionists: David Martinelli, Jamie Papish and T. J. Troy

One of conductor Azzam’s goals is to feature talents within the orchestra.  This composition was originally an instrumental introduction to Umm Kulthum’s song “Fakkaruni.” In the song, there is a short solo between two sections. Azzam extended the short solo into a long one, leaving it up to the three percussionists to “compose” their part.  It’s a joy to hear our players featured in the improvisatory section. 



Jordanian Artists Perform:

Mr. Musa Nasser, bagpipe

GetLit, Rappers—Jordanian-American, Hizzy (shake it!)


Shabnam: for orchestra and santour by Koroush Zolani

Kourush Zolani, chromatic santour

This composition was premiered by MESTO on March 2, 2003.  Composed in an A-B-A form, this lovely piece was written for Kourosh’s wife, Shabnam.  Kourosh Zolani’s santour is tuned to play the Western chromatic scale, without changing the movable bridges that are usually installed on the instrument.  Mr. Zolani has performed with MESTO in three concerts, and was scheduled to perform this piece at Jerash in Jordan. 


Time to Say Goodbye: (Con Te Partirò) by L. Quarantotto, F. Sartori, F. Peterson

Guest Soprano: Anna-Suzette Eblen

Anna-Suzette has often performed with MESTO in the past. Our audiences appreciate her voice and strong stage presence.  She continues to show great promise. 


Zorba the Greek: by Mikis Theodorakis Arr. Shelly Cohen

Guest soloist: Louis Skoby, bouzouki

The screen play for the film "Zorba the Greek" was adapted from a novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, with original music by Mikis Theodorakis.  Although his studies at the Athens Conservatory prepared him for a career in music, it was his special interest in Greek folk music that gave him the creative spark to write the score to "Zorba".  The main theme is used liberally throughout the film, but the scene that captivates the audience is the one where Zorba teaches his English friend how to dance the syrtaki.


Fi Yum wi-Laila:  Lyrics by Husein al-Sayyid; music by M. Abd al-Wahhab

Arr. Joseph Chamaa; Guest Singer, Zahra

Abd al-Wahhab wrote three distinctive songs for the Egyptian singer, Wardah. These songs are characterized by long instrumental introductions, and elaborate interludes that could stand as “independent” instrumental compositions.  This particular song was recorded in 1979. Ms. Zahra performs it with inspiration that takes the audience back to the days when singing was about the music and the voice of the performer!    


Bhibbak Ya Libnan: (I love you Lebanon) by the Rahbani Brothers

Song of Fayrouz; Guest singer: Zahra al-Trouqi

A musical icon of civil war in Lebanon, this song is considered a “secondary” national anthem for Lebanon for its direct, inspiring lyrics and great melody. Conductor Azzam visited Lebanon in May and met with singer Tony Hanna, composer Elias Rahbani, and poet Henri Zoghaib. That was only a few weeks before the latest war. As a tribute to Lebanon and Lebanese music, poetry and art, Ms. Zahra performs this wonderful song.





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