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University Musical Society (UMS) Launches Performing Arts of the Arab World Series in October

posted on: Sep 6, 2008


The University Musical Society (UMS) launches their”Performing Arts of the Arab World” series on October 4, 2008, with a Tribute to Munir Bashir and the Baghdad Conservatory of Music.

This performance will be an outstanding celebration of the Oud and features Omar Bashir (the son of Munir), Farida and the Iraqi Maqam Ensembel and Rahim AlHaj.

The second performance is by Compagnie Heddy Maalem and will be on Wednesday, October 15. The dance is Algerian choreographer Heddy Maalem’s interpretation of Stravinksky’s The Rite of Springs and features 14 utterly distinctive dancers from Mali, Benin, Nigeria and Senegal.

The “Performing Arts of the Arab World” Series will feature the following performances:

Saturday, October 4, 8 pm
Rackham Auditorium
Remembering Munir Bashir and the Baghdad
Conservatory of Music, The Art of the Oud
Featuring Omar Bashir, Farida and the Iraqi Maqam Ensemble, and Rahim AlHaj
–Oud player Munir Bashir (1930-1997) was one of the most famous musicians in the Middle East during the 20th century. His music was distinguished by a novel style of improvisation that reflected his study of Indian and European music.

Wednesday, October 15, 8 pm
Power Center
Compagnie Heddy Maalem
–Heddy Maalem works with the body as a poet works with words — as material. Born in the heart of Algeria, Maalem’s early and extensive training in boxing and Aikido continue to influence his choreography, which is marked by precision, sparse vocabulary, and clarity.

Friday, January 23, 7 pm & 9 pm
Saturday, January 24, 7 pm & 9 pm
Biomedical Science Research Building Auditorium
Kinan Azmeh, clarinet
Kevork Mourad, MaxMSP
–The current unrest in the seat of the world’s oldest civilization has inspired the Juilliard-trained Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh to embark on a multimedia exploration of the most ancient epic that exists in writing today. The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Babylonia, a series of Sumerian legends and poems about the mythological hero-king Gilgamesh, thought to have ruled in the third millennium BC

Thursday, March 12, 8 pm
Hill Auditorium
Celebrating the Golden Age of Arab Music
Aswat (Voices)
Simon Shaheen artistic director, oud, and violin
Featuring Ibrahim Azzam, Sonia M’barek, Khalil Abonula, Rima Khcheich, and The Aswat Orchestra
–The period from the 1920s to the 1950s is considered the “golden age” of Egyptian cinema, but it was also a golden age of song in many parts of the Arab world — in particular, Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. Many of these countries’ greatest singers and composers reached unprecedented heights of artistry and stardom throughout these years. Now, one of today’s leading Arab composers and instrumentalists, Simon Shaheen, is bringing this era back to life.
Thursday, March 19, 8 pm
Friday, March 20, 8 pm
Saturday, March 21, 8 pm
Sunday, March 22, 2 pm
Power Center
Richard III – An Arab Tragedy
Based on Richard III by William Shakespeare
The Culture Project and Sulayman Al-Bassam Theatre
Sulayman Al-Bassam, director
–Commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company as part of its “Complete Works” Festival, this engrossing Arab adaptation of Richard III comes from Kuwait. The play unfolds within the hothouse, feudal atmosphere of desert palaces in an oil-rich kingdom. In this world of tribal allegiances, family in-fighting, and absolute power, the questions of leadership, religion, and foreign intervention that are at the heart of Shakespeare’s play take on powerful new meanings in a modern Arab-Islamic context.

Saturday, April 18, 8 pm
Sunday, April 19, 7 pm
From the Fez Festival of Sufi Culture in Fez, Morocco
Mohammed Bennis
and the Hmadcha Ensemble
–A champion for preserving Moroccan Sufi traditions, artistic director Mohammed Bennis founded the Hmadcha Ensemble as way to preserve traditional Sufi chanting in the Hmadcha tradition of Fes. This performance will attempt recreate an authentic, late-night performance that is featured at the Fez Festival of Sufi Culture in Fez, Morocco.

Please check the UMS website for schedules, descriptions of performances, ticket prices, group discounts and how to order. Go to You can order your tickets by phone at 734-764-2538.