The artists will be joined by guest percussionist Omar Al-Mufsi and Catherine Brubaker, violist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, who has organized a chamber orchestra for this concert of more than a dozen of Chicago’s top classical musicians. All the musicians are donating their time and proceeds from the concert’s ticket sales will be donated to Save the Children.
The concert will take place at 7 pm Sunday evening May 7th at the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washington Street, Chicago. The concert is organized and sponsored by Tzedek Chicago and is co-sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, Beth Emet the Free Synagogue, Chicago Area Peace Action, Congregation Hakafa, First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, Refugee One, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square, St. Nicholas Church; and the Syrian Community Network (list in formation).
Click here to order tickets: $40 (adults), $10 (students and children age 12 and under) or pay what you can.
Hewar, which means dialogue in Arabic, is a trio of Syrian musicians that engages in musical conversation between Arabic music, jazz, scat and western classical melodies. The band, comprised of clarinet, oud and soprano, builds on the acclaimed individual talents of each of its members, juxtaposing and meshing traditions to create unique, genre-breaking music. For this performance, they will be joined by Syrian percussionist Omar Al-Musfi and an incredible chamber orchestra of top Chicago musicians organized by Chicago Symphony Orchestra violist Catherine Brubaker.
Kinan Azmeh (clarinet)
Hailed as a “virtuoso” and “intensely Soulful” by the New York Times and “Spellbinding” by the New Yorker, Kinan Azmeh is a clarinetist and composer from Damascus, Syria and a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Grammy-winning Silk Road Ensemble. Kinan has appeared worldwide as a soloist, composer and improviser. Notable appearances include: Opera Bastille, Paris; Tchaikovsky Grand Hall, Moscow; Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall and the UN’s general assembly, New York; the Royal Albert Hall, London; Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires; der Philharmonie, Berlin; the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, Washington DC; the Mozarteum, Salzburg and the Damascus opera house for its opening concert in his native Syria. Azmeh was the first Arab to win the premier prize at the 1997 Nicolai Rubinstein International Competition, Moscow. He is a graduate of the Damascus High Institute of Music and The Juilliard School, and earned his doctorate degree in music from the City University of New York in 2013.
Dima Orsho (soprano)
A classically trained soprano, Dima Orsho is a graduate of the Damascus High Institute of Music and the Boston Conservatory. Having learned clarinet as a second instrument; she brings an instrument player’s sensibility to her vocalizations, adding to the magic of her performances. Her approach to music is culturally nuanced, forging together diverse influences—from classical, to jazz, to Middle Eastern music. She has performed internationally as a solo artist and as a member of Hewar, with whom she has released three albums. She is also a founding member of DIO Trio, with whom she is currently performing extensively. As a solo artist, her first solo album was “Arabic Lieder,” composed by Gazwan Zerikly and released in 2008. Orsho was featured in “Sing Me Home”, the Best World Music Grammy Award winning album by Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road
Issam Rafea (oud)
A master of the oud and a conductor, Issam Rafea is also an award-winning composer (2010 “Best Composer Award” in Dubai International Film Festival for the film “Matar Aylou). He was previously the Chair of the Arabic Music Department at the High Institute of Music in Damascus and the principal conductor of Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music from 2003- 2013. In addition to several solo appearances with the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra, Rafea has performed internationally, including concerts in France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Italy, Morocco, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, Kuwait and United States. Rafea has also collaborated with groups like Gorillaz, arranging and conducting a track for the group’s 2009 album “Plastic Beach.”
Omar Al-Musfi, guest artist, percussion
Born in Syria, al Musfi graduated from the Syrian Conservatory of Music with a degree in percussion performance and performedextensively with the Syrian National Orchestra.He earned a Masters in Performance degree at Northern Illinois University specializing in world music percussion. Al Musfi has toured throughout the Middle East and North Africa, Europe, East Asia, and the United States. He has performed in such renowned venues such as the Kennedy Center, Symphony Center in Chicago, and at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. He has collaborated with groups from a broad range of musical backgrounds, including classical, Middle Eastern and Fusion Jazz. Among them are the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Project, and contemporary pop artists such as Sting and Shakira.
Catherine Brubaker, guest artist, viola and chamber orchestra organizer
A member of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 1989, violist Catherine Brubaker is a graduate of the Juilliard School, where she was a student of William Lincer. Brubaker is a former member of the Dallas and Seattle symphony orchestras and is an avid performer of chamber music. She appears annually on the CSO chamber series and MusicNOW, the contemporary music series. For this benefit concert, Brubaker has organized a chamber group of more than a dozen of Chicago’s top classical musicians.
Save the Children
Since 2012, Save the Children has led a large, complex response to the war in Syria, reaching children and families in besieged areas, refugee camps and host communities. Despite extreme challenges, STC has helped more than 3.3 million people inside Syria, including more than 2.1 million children. In addition to lifesaving services and supplies, STC sets up safe places for children in crisis to learn, play and socialize, critical for child development. The organization also provides child-focused mental health care, such as Healing and Education through the Arts (HEART), an innovative, art-based psychosocial program.