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Bil Afrah Project on Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center

By: | posted on: Dec 9, 2018

Date(s) - 12/09/2018
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

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The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts


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The Bil Afrah Project, featuring Michel Merhej:
A Celebration of Ziad Rahbani’s Classic Album

The Bil Afrah Project performs one of the Middle East’s most popular albums – Ziad Rahbani’s 1975 masterpiece, Bil Afrah – with Michel Merhej, the legendary percussionist and Rahbani Brothers collaborator who played on the original recording. The instrumental song suite features some of the Arab world’s most beloved standards, as well as the dazzling taqasim (improvisations) for which the Arabic tradition is well-known.

The Bil Afrah Project is a diverse group of musicians from New York City’s Arabic music community. Performing this evening are Zafer TawilBrian PrunkaInsia MalikMarandi HostetterSimon MoushabeckBridget RobbinsJosh FarrarGilbert Mansour, Sprocket Royer, and Michel Merhej Baklouk. In addition to Mr. Merhej’s impressive resumé (including legendary musicians Fairuz, Farid el-­Atrash, Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Warda, and Sabah Fakhri), the members of this group have an extensive history of performing with musicians and ensembles such as Simon Shaheen, Natalie Merchant, the NY Arabic Orchestra, the String Orchestra of Brooklyn, the National Arab Orchestra, Matt Darriau, Nashaz, Amir ElSaffar, and others.

The performance will present the entirety of the song suite as originally heard on Ziad Rahbani’s classic album Bil Afrah.

Renowned in the Arab world, the album is a favorite of aficionados and an inspiration to musicians, and its songs are performed often. But rarely, if ever, has the Bil Afrah suite been performed in its totality, live and in sequence.

The Bil Afrah Project presents a rare opportunity to hear this masterpiece of the Arab world performed live, by an expansive Arabic-music ensemble featuring violins, bass, qanun (zither), oud (fretless lute), buzuq (fretted lute), accordion and Arabic percussion.

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