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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Fi Yum wi-Laila: Lyrics
by Husein al-Sayyid; music by M. Abd al-Wahhab
Arr. Joseph Chamaa; Guest Singer,
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.