Iraqi Music Performed in Berlin

Singers from Arabic countries will perform at the Arabic Music Days

June 19th, 2019
Niina Nukki, News from Berlin
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Arabic Music Days will bring performers from Arabic countries to Berlin in September. Representing Iraq is singer Farida Mohamed Ali, who is a master of the maqam discipline. Other singers include Waed Bouhassoun from Syria and Mai Farouk from Egypt.

Inspired by the legacy of legendary Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum, this season’s Arabic Music Days shine a spotlight on some of the most creative and original artistic voices of women in the Arabic world today. The centuries-old tradition of Iraqi maqam is represented by Farida Mohamed Ali, one of today's leading interpreters of the genre, and the Iraqi Maqam Ensemble.

Mohamed Ali’s mastery of the ancient maqam discipline is extraordinary. In execution, this traditional singing technique requires full command of complex melodies, as well as an understanding of the embedded philosophies within them. But most of all, it's a common custom in Arabic cultures for the maqam discipline to be dominated by men. Farida Mohamed Ali however, is well-versed in maqam al-Baghdadi, a form of maqam rooted in the very beginnings of the civilization, emphasizing and encouraging a freer form of singing.

"I was fortunate to be born in the southern Iraqi town of Karbala, where attitudes towards women were a little more tolerant. Even so, for a woman to sing maqam is most unusual, because it is more than simply music: it is bound up with culture, food, spiritualism. It is a way of life."

Having Fled Iraq, Mohamed Ali now resides in Utrecht, where she works to promote and preserve Iraqi classical music and the maqam culture, which has been included in UNESCO's Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

However, the festival is not only about music, as an exhibition of the recent works of visual art by Zaria Zardasht (Syria), Hilda Hiary (Jordan), Nadira Mahmoud (Iraq) and others will also take place and be on view throughout the festival. As in previous years, the program has been curated by Naseer Shamma.

Farida Mohamed Ali and The Iraqi Ensemble will perform at the Pierre Boulez Saal on Saturday 28th September 2019.


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