Episodes:

Simon Shaheen performing on the Arab lute.

Enjoy an invigorating blend of music from the worlds of jazz, Latin, and Arab traditions. Joining composer, violinist, and ‘ud (Arab lute) virtuoso Simon Shaheen is a genre-crossing ensemble on ney (Arab flute), qanun (Arab zither), guitar, violin, cello, and percussion. Recorded live in concert at the Freer|Sackler on June 23, 2018.

Arab-Latin-Jazz Fusions: Simon Shaheen and Qantara

Enjoy an invigorating blend of music from the worlds of jazz, Latin, and Arab traditions. Joining composer, violinist, and ‘ud (Arab lute) virtuoso Simon Shaheen is a genre-crossing ensemble on ney (Arab flute), qanun (Arab zither), guitar, violin, cello, and percussion. Recorded live in concert at the Freer|Sackler on June 23, 2018.

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Members of the Miyabi Koto Shamisen Ensemble posing for a photo.

Hear new and traditional music for Japanese instruments performed by this ensemble of fourteen kotos with shamisen and shakuhachi. Based in New York, the Miyabi Ensemble extends the range of music for Japanese instruments through an array of innovative styles. Guest artists John Kaizan Neptune on shakuhachi, guitarist Michael Gilsinan, and percussionist Manny Arciniega join ensemble director Masayo Ishigure for this concert. Masayo Ishigure can be heard on the Golden Globe-winning soundtrack to the feature film Memoirs of a Geisha.

Miyabi Koto Shamisen Ensemble

Hear new and traditional music for Japanese instruments performed by this ensemble of fourteen kotos with shamisen and shakuhachi. Based in New York, the Miyabi Ensemble extends the range of music for Japanese instruments through an array of innovative styles. Guest artists John Kaizan Neptune on shakuhachi, guitarist Michael Gilsinan, and percussionist Manny Arciniega join ensemble director Masayo Ishigure for this concert. Masayo Ishigure can be heard on the Golden Globe-winning soundtrack to the feature film Memoirs of a Geisha.

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Members of the Silkroad Ensemble performing a new composition at the Freer|Sackler.

The Grammy Award-winning Silkroad Ensemble gives the world premiere of a major new composition that Silkroad musicians, inspired by works of art on view in the galleries, wrote for the Freer|Sackler. Performing in this debut are Sandeep Das on tabla (Indian drums), Kojiro Umezaki on shakuhachi (Japanese flute), Shaw Pong Liu on violin and erhu (Chinese fiddle), Wu Tong on vocals and sheng (Chinese mouth organ), Jeffrey Beecher on bass, and Shane Shanahan on percussion.

Silkroad Ensemble: Musical Postcards from the Freer|Sackler

The Grammy Award-winning Silkroad Ensemble gives the world premiere of a major new composition that Silkroad musicians, inspired by works of art on view in the galleries, wrote for the Freer|Sackler. Performing in this debut are Sandeep Das on tabla (Indian drums), Kojiro Umezaki on shakuhachi (Japanese flute), Shaw Pong Liu on violin and erhu (Chinese fiddle), Wu Tong on vocals and sheng (Chinese mouth organ), Jeffrey Beecher on bass, and Shane Shanahan on percussion.

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Baila Music from Sri Lanka: The Gypsies

Get ready to move to the infectious rhythms of baila, a unique form of dance music from Sri Lanka that originated among Portuguese fishermen and enslaved people from Africa in the colonial period. Modern baila is now popular in Sri Lankan communities around the world, played at parties, weddings, and dance clubs. This concert was recorded on the Freer Gallery’s plaza, facing the National Mall, in conjunction with the exhibition Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the 16th and 17th Centuries.

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Nowruz Performance

Persian Music: Sahba Motallebi, tār

Sahba Motallebi performs classical and original music for Iranian lutes as part of the Freer|Sackler’s Persian New Year celebration. She is one of the few women worldwide who plays these instruments in major concert halls. Motallebi specializes in Persian classical music, a tradition of virtuoso improvisation based on melodic modes chosen to reflect the mood of the musician and the occasion.

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The Lightbulb Ensemble performing Hamsa: Five Tales on traditional Balinese gamelan with organ, guitar, and voice in 2016. Their performance at the Hammer Auditorium was part of Performing Indonesia: Islamic Intersections, a joint presentation of the Smithsonian’s Freer|Sackler, George Washington University, and the Embassy of Indonesia.

The Lightbulb Ensemble: Tales of Hamsa

In this virtuoso performance, a traditional Balinese gamelan orchestra combines with organ, guitar, and voice to tell the allegorical story of a beggar’s perplexing dreams about the Five Pillars of Islam. With entrancing music by Brian Baumbusch and libretto by Paul Baumbusch, this compelling music puts the shimmering sounds of gamelan in an entirely new context. Presented in 2016 as part of the festival Performing Indonesia: Islamic Intersections.

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Detail, Waves at Matsushima 松島図屏風

Detail, Waves at Matsushima 松島図屏風; F1906.231-232

Making Musical Waves: The Legacy of Yatsuhashi

This concert was presented in 2015 in conjunction with the exhibition Sōtatsu: Making Waves, which was on view at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery from October 24, 2015, through January 31, 2016.

Seijo Tominari, koto, shamisen, and voice
Seiritsu Tomio, koto and voice
Yodo Kurahashi, shakuhachi
Ayako Kurahashi, koto and voice
Miyuki Yoshikami, koto and voice

Cantate Chamber Singers, Gisele Becker, director

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The Tarek Yamani Trio performed at the Freer Gallery on December 6, 2014. Left to right are Tarek Yamani (piano), Petros Klampanis (bass), and Evan Sherman (drums). The trio performed jazz standards along with Tarek’s original jazz arrangements of classic Arab songs from the 1950s.

A Jazz Take on Classic Arab Song: Tarek Yamani Trio

Take a jazz journey to the Arab world of the 1950s with Lebanese pianist Tarek Yamani and his original arrangements of music from the classic era of Arab songs. The Beirut-born Yamani is joined by bassist Petros Klampanis and drummer Evan Sherman. Yamani breathes invigorating new life into songs made wildly popular by such singers as Uum Kulthum and composers Sayyid Darwīsh and Mohammad al-Maslūb and their orchestras. Winner of the Thelonius Monk Competition in 2010, Yamani created the annual music initiative Beirut Speaks Jazz in 2013 and has performed at the United Nations and in clubs across New York City.

This concert was originally performed at the Meyer Auditorium on December 6, 2014.

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The full ensemble heard on this podcast includes (left to right) Basel Rajoub, tenor saxophone; Kenan Adnawi, ‘ud; Naghib Shanbehzadeh, percussion; and Saeid Shanbehzadeh, Persian bagpipe. (Photo by Scott Friedlander © 2014, used with permission.)

Sound: The Encounter: Jazz from Iran and Syria

Four jazz-oriented artists from the Middle East merge the musical traditions for Persian and Arab bagpipe, double clarinet, lute, and drums along with the Western saxophone. Together they forge new sounds that transport ancient melodies into modern idioms. This performance was recorded live in concert at the Freer Gallery on December 12, 2013, and was presented in cooperation with the Aga Khan Music Initiative.

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