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Fathi Aljarah (Fremont) collaborating with Zawaya (San Mateo)

Award: $40,000 Traditional Arts grant awarded in 2013

To be completed: May 2015

Syrian-American composer Fathi Aljarah is collaborating with Zawaya to produce a concert celebrating war-torn Aleppo’s rich musical heritage, which is threatened by the current civil war. The concert, “Aleppo Alive” will present a Wasleh, a suite of songs and instrumental pieces in the Aleppan tradition, to be performed by Zawaya’s Aswat Arab music ensemble and directed by Mr. Aljarah.

Through their collaboration, the artist and nonprofit will conduct research on Aleppan musical traditions, formulate a training module on those traditions for the Aswat ensemble, develop and produce repertoire based on the Wasleh, and produce a concert and DVD featuring the music. Typically the Wasleh is composed of two types of material—Muwashshahat (usually performed using classical Arabic language and coming from origins in the Andalusia region) and Qudud Al Halabiyya (featuring both standard and colloquial Arabic, referring to simple rural or village life and specifically originating out of Aleppo).

Lead artist Fathi Aljarah was born and raised in Aleppo and trained and practiced extensively in classical Aleppan music. He is the top Arab master violinist in the United States and possesses extensive knowledge of Arab folk and classical music and history. His musical lineage includes having been an apprentice to Sabah Fakhri, a master of al-qudud al-Halabiyyah in Syria.

Nabila Mango and Haya Shawwa Benhalim established Zawaya in 2003 to preserve, present, and promote the Arab arts in the Bay Area. Zawaya’s precursor, Aswat, which was founded in 2000, is an Arab music ensemble.