12/15/2016, The Nourse Theater, San Francisco, CA

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Marcel and his two sons, Bachar and Rami, take the stage to share their compositions. Their music, full of emotions, makes us travel to Lebanon by the sound of the oud (stringed instrument).

Marcel Khalife was born on June 10, 1950 in Amchit, Lebanon. He studied the oud (the Arabic ...

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Ron Kadish

Sounds for a New Golden Age: Oud Maestro Marcel Khalife Unites Family Talents, Builds Powerful Bridges in a Season of Distrust

New album and US autumn tour from Lebanon’s iconic voice of defiance and reconciliation

I call to you before speech
I fly with you, holding your waist even before I reach you
how many times can you put my soul's addresses
in the beaks of these pigeons? And vanish like the distance on the slopes
so that I may realize that you are Babylon, Egypt, and Syria.
     --Mahmoud Darwish, “Andalusia of Love”

When oud master and composer Marcel Khalife first found his voice as an artist, in self-imposed internal exile during Lebanon’s unrest in the 1970s, he never guessed his songs, based on the works of the prolific and renowned Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, would ignite imaginations and spread like wildfire across the Middle East and North Africa.

Ever since, Darwish remained a beacon in Khalife’s long creative life, a “second soul” in his breast, even after Darwish’s passing away in 2008.  A significant part of Khalife’s popular lyrical works use Darwish’s poetry as their basis.

Now, his songs have new questions to pose, new insights to share, in this time fraught with conflict yet ripe with the potential for deeper understanding. On Andalusia of Love, an extended suite contemplating Darwish’s sensual vision of a renewed golden age, Khalife is at his most stirring, intriguing, and forceful, his sons Rami (piano) and Bachar (percussion) adding a strong dynamic pulse and diverse musical elements to their father’s usual elegance.

The trio will tour the US this autumn, thanks to the efforts of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which works, among other goals, to preserve and share Arab heritage with people of all backgrounds. The younger Khalifes' compositions play a prominent role in the tour's program. "We are on equal footing as artists," explains Marcel.

Rami graduated from Juilliard, expanding his extensive classical training with a passion for improvisation and jazz. He has composed for respected international orchestras and toured with his critically acclaimed duo Aufgang. The jazz press in France has dubbed Bachar “the caliph of electrojazz.” Both compose and record extensively for projects that straddle genres and international boundaries.

These geographically and sonically diverse interests have shaped their work with their renowned father, considered one of the leading Arab progressive voice of his generation. “Even if they weren’t my sons,” says Marcel, “I would want to play with musicians like them.” Along with Marcel’s work, Rami and Bachar’s compositions and works will be woven into the touring program, showing the continuity and the innovation between generations of one of Arab music’s first families.

The confluence of influences is palpable on Andalusia of Love, which also benefits from the qanun of Gilbert Yammine. Drawing on Western classical, jazz, experimental music and traditional Arabic music, the trio unfolds Darwish’s intensely personal and political resonant call into a highly mature work. “We aren’t a trio,” notes Marcel. “We’re three distinct musical entities, united into a single body. This lends a great serenity to our work together, as our instruments have become extensions of our selves, the mediators of our personal languages.”

The instruments and musicians speak to Arab experiences, and to the ache of the human condition. And on the pieces that form Andalusia of Love, the musicians braid together longings for a physical love and powerful yearning for the erudite accord of Al-Andalus, the Muslim Arab-ruled home of people of all three faiths in southern Spain. It speaks to a state of mutual respect that may seem long past, but that perhaps can be revived, like the reunion of two lovers. In a time of well-fanned hatred and mistrust, it’s a message that strikes at the core, no matter what your background.

“Many of the listeners who come to our concerts come away with something profound,” reflects Bachar. “They don’t need to understand the words to feel the meaning.”

These messages and shared sentiments couldn’t come at a more vital time, one reason this tour is supported by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), an organization striving for civil rights for Arab Americans, and for all. “We see our mission is to protect civil rights and civil liberties, promote mutual understanding, and to preserve cultural heritage,” explains Nabil Mohamad, the organization’s vice president. “The tour falls within ADC’s mission to highlight the beauty of Arab culture which will dispel stereotypes while allowing listeners to learn more about Arab heritage and turaath (culture). Marcel has used his unique and nuanced voice as an artist to build bridges with mainstream audiences. His sons have continued that work, and we’re delighted to present it.”

This tour is organized by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (www.adc.org). ADC is a civil rights organization committed to defending the rights of people of Arab descent and promoting their rich cultural heritage. ADC was founded by former U.S. Senator James Abourezk in 1980. Today, ADC is the largest Arab American grassroots organization in the U.S.

ADC supports the human and civil rights of all people and opposes racism and bigotry in any form.

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(415) 392-4400
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San Francisco, CA
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275 Hayes St
The Nourse Theater