Rima Khcheich Concert Plays to Sold-out Crowds
at Assembly Hall
|Rima Khcheich during the concert
The sound of traditional Arabic music melded with contemporary jazz for
two special performances on April 15 and 16, as Rima Khcheich sang and
her band played to capacity crowds at AUB's Assembly Hall. The concerts,
coordinated through the AUB Music Club, were arranged by Irab, a non-profit
group dedicated to enhancing the promotion, production, and distribution
of Oriental music.
The Rima Khcheich evenings were part of a larger Musiqa 1 Festival put
on by Irab that also featured concerts at Saint Joseph University by Hassan
Haffar from Syria and the Austrian band of Marwan Abado, a Palestinian
living in Austria. Founded in 2003 by Bassel Kassem, Irab is raising money
to make a library of traditional and contemporary Oriental music recordings,
books, magazines, and studies. Their next big event will be a music festival
this October, featuring bands from Palestine and Jordan, as well as the
Lebanese Army Band.
Rima Khcheich, an internationally-known vocalist who teaches at the Lebanese
National Conservatory of Music, was joined onstage by a five-piece band
consisting of flute, guitar, oud, double bass, and drums. Several of the
musicians who played with her also appear in her new album. The bassist,
Tony Overwater, and drummer Joost Lijbaart were actually flown in from
Holland especially for this performance, courtesy of the Netherlands Embassy.
About half of the 14-song set consisted of songs taken from Khcheich's
new album, Yalalalli. It was the first time they were played in public.
Some were originals and others were traditional Arabic songs rendered
in a jazz format. The concert began with several moody ballads sung in
Khcheich's strong yet understated style. A soprano saxophone was added
in the second half of the program, which featured livelier jazz pieces
and several instrumental solos. Throughout it all, Khcheich captivated
the audience with her engaging smiles and outstanding vocal artistry.