Award-winning Egyptian musician Fathy Salama coming to Philadelphia

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Pianist and musical pioneer Fathy Salama will be in Philadelphia the last week of April.
Salama and his orchestra, Sharkiat, are best known for collaborating with Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour (featured vocalist on Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”) on the Best Contemporary World Music Album Grammy-winning “Egypt” in 2004.
The Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture series is bringing Salama from Egypt for a Philly residency, culminating in a concert at 4 p.m. April 27 at the Trinity Center for Urban Life, 22nd and Spruce streets, Philadelphia. Tickets are $30, $15 for students.

An evening of poetry and music: Poet Suheir Hammad performs with the Philadelphia Arab Music Ensemble led by Music Director Hanna Khoury as part of Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture's Arab Music Concert Series.  Photo courtesy of Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture/Jacques-Jean Tiziou / www.jjtiziou.net

The Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble (left to right): Hafez Kotain, Kinan Idnawi, Hanna Khoury and Kinan Abou-afach. Not pictured is Hicham Chami. Photo courtesy of Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture/Dana Scherer


The Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble (a Persian/Turkish word, literally meaning “platform,”  for chamber music-like groups popular in the 20s and 30s ) will accompany Salama on violin, cello, oud and percussion for the performance of a musical suite. Go to www.albustanseeds.org.

Al-Bustan musical director Hanna Khoury, the violinist in the takht ensemble,  said in an interview that Salama’s influences are so diverse — including American be-bop, Arab classical and folk music, sub-Saharan African sounds, Islamic religious music, classical composers Bela Bartok and Pytor Tchaikovsky, and Miles Davis — that when Salama was asked if it was accurate to call his music jazz, he responded, “It’s best to call it the music of Fathy Salama.”

“He is someone who understands, and is passionate about, Arab music. He understands the musicians that are working around him,” said Khoury, noting that Salama is frequently courted by Egyptian pop musicians to work with them.
The Fathy Salama residency includes school visits, an Arab music ensemble class at the University of Pennsylvania April 21, and “Making Music in Egypt: A Conversation with Fathy Salama” at 6 p.m. April 23 in the Sphinx Gallery at the Penn Museum.
Khoury credited Salama’s influential merging of East and West and traditional and modern with the founding of the first International Jazz Festival, held in Egypt in 2008.
Accoding to the Al-Bustan website, he also won two first-place awards in the Cairo International Film Festival for his soundtrack work, and has composed music for the Egyptian National Theater.
Follow Brian Bingaman on Twitter @brianbingaman.

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