Episodes:

Photographs by Scott Friedlander ©2013. Used with permission.

Jason Kao Hwang’s EDGE Ensemble:
Burning Bridge

Delve into the raucous, funky world of Jason Hwang’s eight-piece band and their rowdy, collective improvisations that invoke the legacies of New Orleans jazz, Ornette Coleman, and Charles Mingus. He is joined by a deep brass section with Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet and flugelhorn, Joe Daley on tuba, and Steve Swell on trombone, plus Ken Filiano on bass, Andrew Drury on drums, Wang Guowei on erhu (Chinese fiddle), and Sun Li on pipa (Chinese lute). This concert was presented in 2010 in conjunction with the exhibition Fiona Tan: Rise and Fall.

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Chinese Visionary: Music of Ge Gan-ru

Experience the unique musical voice of Chinese-born composer Ge Gan-ru, who expands the language of chamber music in provocative and challenging ways. His compositions emphasize novel playing techniques, unorthodox forms, Chinese tone qualities, and melodic ideas that range from the lyrical and charming to the searing and tragic. On this podcast, hear four of his works performed by the Shanghai Quartet with pianist Kathryn Woodard, the ModernWorks ensemble, and pianist Margaret Leng Tan on toy instruments in a work based on a twelfth-century Chinese poem. These performances were recorded in 2006 and 2007 at the Meyer Auditorium of the Freer Gallery of Art as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series.

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Asian American Jazz Pioneers:
The Far East Side Band

Journey to a unique soundscape that blends contemporary jazz with East Asian instruments and styles, all performed by this path-breaking ensemble of the late 1990s. Composer, and violinist Jason Kao Hwang subsequently earned best-of-the-year listings in Downbeat, Jazz Times, Jazziz, and All About Jazz. His chamber opera, The Floating Box, A Story in Chinatown, was named among the top ten recordings of 2005 by Opera News. This early experimental quartet also features multi-percussionist Satoshi Takeishi, jazz tuba artist Joseph Daley, and Sang-Won Park on Korean zithers (kayagum and ajaeng). The notes include essays on Asian American jazz and Jason Hwang’s new introduction. Their performance took place at the Freer Gallery of Art in 1999.

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Kadri Gopalnath in performance at Le Guess Who? (Netherlands) in 2018 (photo leguesswho.nl)

Saxophone Summit: Kadri Gopalnath and Rudresh Mahanthappa

Kadri Gopalnath and Rudresh Mahanthappa, two leading artists from American jazz and Indian classical music, combine their prodigious talents in this one-of-a-kind collaboration. They are backed up by an all-star lineup of guitarist Rez Abbasi, violinist A. Kanyakumari, drummers Royal Hartigan and Poovalur Sriji, and bassist Carlo de Rosa.

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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 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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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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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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