Episodes:

detail of a manuscript cover, two bearded men holding two books, halos behind their heads

St. Mark and St. Luke; Right cover of The Washington Manuscript of the Gospels, F1906.298

Byzantine Chant: Advent and Christmas Music from Mt. Sinai

Cappella Romana, a leading Byzantine music ensemble of virtuoso singers from Greece, England, and the United States, performs “Medieval Byzantine Chant: Advent and Christmas from St. Catherine’s Monastery, Mt. Sinai, Egypt.” This concert was part of the Meyer Concert Series and was presented on November 30, 2006, in conjunction with the Sackler exhibition In the Beginning: Bibles Before the Year 1000, and in cooperation with the J. Paul Getty Museum exhibition Holy Image, Hallowed Ground: Icons from Sinai.

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Katherine Chi sitting at the piano.

Camille Saint-Saëns’s gorgeously romantic Fifth Piano Concert, written while the composer lived in Luxor, forms the heart of this recital of piano music inspired by Egypt. This performance was presented at the Freer Gallery in 2017 in conjunction with the exhibition Divine Felines: Cats in Ancient Egypt.

Inspired by Egypt:
Katherine Chi and Dina Vainshtein, pianos

Camille Saint-Saëns’s gorgeously romantic Fifth Piano Concert, written while the composer lived in Luxor, forms the heart of this recital of music inspired by Egypt. Hear it performed in the composer’s own rapturous arrangement for two pianos. Also enjoy the atmospheric Canope, Claude Debussy’s musical response to funerary urns from the ancient Nile, and Anton Arensky’s charming Egyptian Nights, written for Russia’s Imperial Ballet. The concert concludes with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s spectacular Études-tableaux. This performance was presented at the Freer Gallery in 2017 in conjunction with the exhibition Divine Felines: Cats in Ancient Egypt.

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Detail, At Ease in the Countryside: Scholars and Fishermen. Yamamoto Baiitsu (1783–1856).

Much of the Japanese and Chinese music heard on this podcast evokes some aspect of nature: waves, birds, trees, sunrise, and the seasons. Japanese artists have sometimes depicted the koto (or a related instrument) being played by scholars contemplating the natural world, as in the screen above—an approach incorporated from Chinese tradition. Detail, At Ease in the Countryside: Scholars and Fishermen. Yamamoto Baiitsu (1783–1856). Japan, Edo period, 19th century. Six-panel screen; ink and light color on paper. Purchase, F1961.1

Music for the Soul:
From East Asia to the Middle East

Relax with gentle yet invigorating music performed by virtuoso artists from Japan, China, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and the United States. These diverse concerts were recorded live at the Freer and Sackler Galleries between 2008 and 2019.

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Woman in white jumpsuit sings on theater stage while surrounded by seven seated musicians.

Syrian vocalist Nadia Raies performed songs from the 1942 film Mamnu’ Al Hubb (Love is Forbidden), the 1958 film Ma Lish Gheirak (I Have No One but You), and the 1959 film Irham Hubbi (Have Mercy for My Love) with the Simon Shaheen Ensemble.

Musical Gems of Arab Cinema

Enjoy classic film music from the golden age of Arab cinema, the 1930s to the 1960s. Simon Shaheenperforms on the ‘ud (Arab lute) and violin with Syrian vocalist Nadia Raies, ney (flute) master Bassam Saba, and an ensemble of qanun (Arab zither), violins, cello, and percussion. Recorded live in concert at the Freer|Sackler on June 21, 2018.

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Naseer Shamma’s Al-Oyoun Ensemble

Hear evocative solos and refreshing new arrangements of Arab music performed by Naseer Shamma and his Cairo-based ensemble. One of the Middle East’s leading ‘ud (lute) virtuosos, Shamma is joined by musicians performing on violin, flute (nay), dulcimer (qanun), cello, and percussion. The concert includes Shamma’s original compositions, Venus and Halat Wajd (Rapture.)

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detail of a manuscript cover, two bearded men holding two books, halos behind their heads

St. Mark and St. Luke; Right cover of The Washington Manuscript of the Gospels, F1906.298

Cappella Romana

Cappella Romana, a leading Byzantine music ensemble of virtuoso singers from Greece, England, and the United States, performs “Medieval Byzantine Chant: Advent and Christmas from St. Catherine’s Monastery, Mt. Sinai, Egypt.” The concert features music from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, including works by Manuel Gazes and St. John Koukouzeles. This concert is part of the Meyer Concert Series and was presented in conjunction with the Sackler exhibition In the Beginning: Bibles Before the Year 1000, and incooperation with the J. Paul Getty Museum exhibition Holy Image, Hallowed Ground: Icons from Sinai. Recorded live in the Meyer Auditorium November 30, 2006.

View more about this podcast »