Alwan for the Arts is now offering music lessons! I’ve been curating music at Alwan since 2008, and am thrilled that we now have classes and private lessons in Arab music, which have been organized by my fiancé, Lety ElNaggar. There are four weekend classes this semester, which runs through the end of May, including early 20th cent. Egyptian maqam practices with Sami Shumays, group percussion with Zafer Tawil, a women’s choir led by Gaida, and an Iraqi Maqam class taught by me, in addition to private lessons throughout the week.
My class focuses on the urban art music of Iraq, known as the Iraqi Maqam.
This tradition occupies an important role in the milieu of the maqam traditions of the Near East, North Africa, and Central Asia, and features remnants of medieval Arab musical practices in addition to pieces of Iraq’s vibrant, yet tumultuous history. Distinct from other traditions, where the term “maqam” is often meant to denote mode, Iraqi maqams are semi-improvised compositions that follow predetermined melodic sequences and structures, yet are semi-improvised, rhythmically free, and are of a highly spiritual nature.
In each class, students will learn to sing/play one maqam composition and one pesteh, or popular song. I highly encourage people who are interested in learning about Middle Eastern music to attend this and all other classes that are being offered as a part of this program.
Iraqi Maqam classes meet every Sunday at 1:30 pm. For information on how to register, and on the other courses being offered, please click here.