Feb 23: Concert Series presents “Roads to Damascus”

Al-Bustan is pleased to bring together acclaimed New York-based artist Kevork Mourad to create original work with fellow Syrian artist Kinan Abou-afach, as a reflection on their memories of Damascus and its rich history.

Roads to Damascus is conceived as a continuous 50-minute piece of music and spontaneous painting divided into several movements, each movement reflecting an element of Damascus’ long, complex history. This visual-musical performance is presented as part of Al-Bustan’s 2012-13 Arab Music Concert Series.  As the concert series incorporates the model of a guest artist in performance with Al-Bustan’s resident music ensemble, Kinan Abou-afach is a member of Al-Bustan’s resident ensemble and will be featured as a composer in collaboration with guest artist Kevork Mourad.   This will be Mourad’s first time presenting his work  in Philadelphia. Read more on our blog.

Mourad and Abou-afach, who share a common heritage in Syria, recently reconnected given their current proximity living in New York City and Philadelphia.  As they noted about their collaboration:

We want to work on a project together because of our affinity towards each other’s art in the disparate fields of visual art and music, knowing that we would be able to meld our two forms into a duet that would become a conversation between two artists and two media. As we share a connection to Syria, we are interested in creating a project that would give voice to the cultural richness of Syria, to explore through our art the origins of the current conflict, to demonstrate that it does not arise out of ethnic or religious strife, nor a lack of harmony between the different peoples who lived in the land for centuries. The project is a collaboration in which the music and art feed off of each other. The music is not composed to fit the art, and the art is not created to fit the music. Rather, the two artists work in tandem to create a piece in which the visuals become an instrument as much as the music becomes a way to create both a setting and a narrative line. More specifically, the art will be projected on a screen behind the artist and the musicians, and a mixture of both spontaneous painting and pre-made animation is projected in tandem with the music.

Performance by:
Kevork Mourad – painting
Al-Bustan’s Resident Ensemble:
Kinan Abou-afach – cello/oud
Hanna Khoury – violin
Hafez El Ali Kotain – percussion
and guests:
Barry Sames –keyboard
David Brodie – bass

Date: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Time: 8pm
Location: Trinity Center for Urban Life at 22nd and Spruce Streets in Center City, Philadelphia
Admission: $30 and $15 for students with ID
Purchase tickets! Get discount when purchasing subscription for Feb & March concerts.

Discounted Parking is kindly offered by EZ Park at several nearby locations. Click here to download parking coupon to present to parking attendant.

Art/Music Demo Workshop for Northeast High School Students
Date: Thursday, February 21, 2013

Time: 11am-1pm
Artists Mourad and Abou-afach will demonstrate their collaborative process and engage the students in a workshop of creative art-making, after which some of the students’ artwork will be displayed at the concert hall on February 23.

This project is made possible with support from:
The Violet Jabara Charitable Trust, The Samuel S. Fels Fund, Raseef22, and University of Pennsylvania’s Middle East Center and Greenfield Intercultural Center.

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Kevork Mourad, a visual artist of Armenian origin, was born in Kamechli, Syria. After his secondary education in Syria, he studied at the Yerevan Institute of Fine Arts in Armenia where he received his MFA in 1996. He came to the United States shortly after where he has performed and exhibited widely. Early on in his career, he developed a technique of spontaneous painting in which he shares the stage with musicians, his art created in counterpoint to their music. He has collaborated with a wide range of musicians, including Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Kinan Azmeh, Ezequiel Viñao, Tambuco, Song Fusion, Mari Kimura, Ken Ueno, Liubo Borissov, Eve Beglarian, Rami Khalife, Maya Trio, SYOTOS, and Brooklyn Rider, among others. Mourad has performed and exhibited his paintings and works on paper in museums and concert halls around the world, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Tenri Center, Angel Orensantz, 92nd St. Y, Cooper Union, Rhode Island School of Design, Harvard University, Nara Museum in Japan, Rubin Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara, Chicago Institute of Art, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, Juilliard’s “Beyond the Machine” Festival, Chelsea Museum of Art, the City University of New York, the American Museum of Natural History, Lincoln Center, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Examples of Mourad’s artwork and live performances can be seen on his website.

Kinan Abou-afach is a Syrian-born cellist and composer. He began his musical studies at the age of seven and received his first degree in cello and oud performance in the music preparatory program of the Arabic Institute of Music in Damascus. He completed a Bachelors degree in cello performance with a minor in oud performance from the Higher Institute of Music in Damascus. He has performed as a soloist with various orchestras in the Arab region and participated in master classes with Francoise Baduell, Federico Romano, Yo-Yo Ma, and members of Alban Berg Quartet. Abou-afach moved to Chicago in 2000 to obtain his master’s degree at the DePaul University School of Music. He studied under Stephen Balderston, assistant principal of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s cello section, and was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago for several years. As a soloist and chamber musician Abou-Afach has performed in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, France, Germany and Japan. He is currently a performer with Al-Bustan’s resident Arab music ensemble based in Philadelphia. Other than performance, Abou-afach is an active composer, writing music that is influenced by Eastern and Western traditions. Some of his film scores include original soundtracks “The Long Night” by Hatem Ali; “Where We Stood” by Blake Beckstrom; and for the Theater/Dance “Jondo Portraits” by choreographer Wendy Clinard. Examples of Abou-afach’s compositions can be heard on his website.

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