WAAAUB Holds First Ever International Convention: Commitment to AUB and Enhancing Ties among Alumni  
AUBMC Receives US Accreditation
Seven New Members to Join the AUB Board of Trustees
Establishment of the Michael Atiyah Chair in Mathematical Sciences at AUB
AUB Nutrition and Food Science Department Named as WHO Collaborating Center
Academic Excellence Rewarded: AUB's Merit Scholarships
AUB Announces New Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service
Shahe Kazarian's - Reflections of My I (Published by Cadmus Project: 2007)
Faculty Profile: Patrick Lewtas
Professor Mrad Lectures Abroad
Staff Profile: Ramzieh Saad
Essay Competition Honors Arab World's 'Prince of Poets'
Donald Mitchell Examines Control Over City Streets
The Political Consequences of American Romanticism
Juan Cole Points at Failures in United States
Scholar Studies Impact of Terrorism on American Imports
Ambassador Evaluates Role of United Kingdom in the Arab World
A View of Islam in the Eighth Century
The Need for Dialogue Between Religions
Istanbul's Pleasures Revealed
National Identity Without Citizenship?
On-line Workshops Help Train Journalists
Student Artwork Exhibited at Jafet Library
Amulets and Talismans at the AUB Museum
Living with Animals: To Prevent Torture and the Impact of War
Women's Auxiliary Holiday Luncheon
Home of Hope Orphans Tour AUB Medical Center
Italian Opera Recital at Assembly Hall
Strengthening Ukraine and Lebanese Relations with Music
AUB Music Club Concert
From Sufi Chant to Oriental Jazz
AUB Choir and Choral Society Celebrate Christmas
Benefit Christmas Concerts Help Ayadina Center
Red Cross Club Forms Human Ribbon
January 2008 Vol. 9 No. 4


From Sufi Chant to Oriental Jazz

At Warqa Al Arabiyya ili-Inshad perform Sufi music

Before the annual 2007 Christmas choir, two concerts were presented at AUB steeped in Arab and Persian musical and poetic traditions with a surprisingly modern twist-ranging from Sufi chant to Oriental jazz. In early October, as part of the Anis Makdissi program for Literature, the Sufi musicians of al-Warqa' al-'Arabiyya lil-Inshad were presented by Maher Jarrar as emblematic of a living melodic practice, "eight hundred years after Jalal el-Din al Rumi," who said, "The sound of the nay is the gate to heaven. We hear it and it opens…"

The main composer, vocalist, and oud player Sahir al-Halabi hoped that "for this hour and a half, we will try and forget the past external to us, so that everyone can experience the Sufi love for God together." The distinct strains of fervent, devotional Sufi music with Moheddine al-Ghali on qanun, Samir Siblini on nay, Wahid Saïd on violin, and Naji Aridi on raq followed. Inspired by the spiritual texts of al-Hallaj, Ibn Sina, al-Shibli, Rabia Al-Adawiyya, As-Sahrawardy and contemporary Sufi poets such as Abd al-Fattah Rawas al-Qalaji, al-Halabi hoped this improvisational symphony would counter accusations that "Islam doesn't reach out" to people.

"Cyminologie," from Germany, led by the mesmerizing voice of Cymin Samawatie, of Iranian heritage, performed in the Assembly Hall in early December. The band represented a mix of ethnic backgrounds, with a French pianist, German bassist, and an Indian drummer. Inspired by ancient Persian poetic verses from as early as the eleventh century, their music ranged from distinguished mystic Hafez and master poet Omar Khayyam, to postmodern, free jazz. Samawatie's high-pitched melancholic intonation blended with an upbeat backdrop as the musicians engaged in back-and-forth communication with one another. Samawatie said she wanted to bring out the best of her two cultural backgrounds in musical heritage. Although she did not grow up in Iran, it is hard to avoid cultural connections and crosscurrents today, even when one is searching deeply for roots.