Podcast Series: Concerts
The Legacy of Munir Bashir: Omar Bashir, ’ud
Enjoy the expressive warmth of the Arab ’ud (lute) with virtuoso Omar Bashir in this concert honoring the memory of his father, Munir Bashir, who elevated the instrument to new prominence in the twentieth century. Omar Bashir coaxes a wealth of emotions from the guitar-like instrument, utilizing a variety of Arab melodic modes (maqam) and interpreting works made famous by his legendary father, including Love and Peace, Seville, and Andalusian Señora. This concert took place in the Freer Gallery of Art on September 14, 2003.
Koto Meets Quartet: Yumi Kurosawa and the Lark String Quartet
Hear a gorgeous new concerto for the Japanese koto and Western string quartet by American composer Daron Hagen, who has written works for the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Kings Singers, among many others. Preceding that are two contrasting works for solo koto: a classical piece by seventeenth-century composer Kengyo Yatsuhashi and Yumi Kurosawa’s own new work for the instrument. This concert was recorded in the Freer|Sackler’s Meyer Auditorium as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series on October 13, 2011.
The Arirang of Tori: A Korean and American Jazz Collaboration
Hear Korea's most beloved folksong, "Arirang," interpreted by seven leading improvisers from Korea and New York. Led by Heo Yoon-jeong on zithers and Ned Rothenberg on reeds, the Tori Project treats five regional styles of "Arirang" to a compelling array of variations and extrapolations. This concert was recorded at the Freer|Sackler on December 8, 2011.
Calefax Reed Quintet
Experience the painterly palette of sounds created by composers Claude Debussy and Enrique Granados in this concert celebrating the 150th anniversary of Debussy's birth. The virtuosic Calefax Reed Quintet, from the Netherlands, performs its own lush arrangements of Debussy's works, which were deeply influenced by the American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler. This concert was presented as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series on March 2, 2012, and made possible in part through support from the Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Foundation for the Arts.
Virtuoso Music for Chinese and Western Instruments
Hear new works for violin, cello, piano, erhu, and pipa composed by Pulitzer Prize-winner Zhou Long; Beijing-based composer Lu Pei, and Chen Yi, winner of the Charles Ives Living Award. Two outstanding ensembles—Music From China and Music From Copland House—join forces for this performance, presented as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series on November 3, 2011.
Master of Persian Music: Hossein Alizadeh
Hear the ancient improvisational tradition of Persian classical music played masterfully by one of Iran's greatest musical legends. Hossein Alizadeh is a two-time Grammy nominee, once for his solo album Endless Vision and again as a member of the Masters of Persian Music ensemble, with which he has toured internationally. Also an award-winning composer, Alizadeh wrote the music for such highly regarded Iranian films as Gabbeh, Turtles Can Fly, and A Time for Drunken Horses. This live performance was recorded in the Meyer Auditorium on May 30, 2002.
Baila Music from Sri Lanka: The Gypsies
Get ready to move to the infectious rhythms of baila, a unique form of dance music from Sri Lanka that originated among Portuguese fishermen and African slaves in the colonial period. Modern baila is now popular in Sri Lankan communities around the world, played at parties, weddings, and dance clubs. This concert was recorded on the Freer Gallery's plaza, facing the National Mall, in conjunction with the exhibition Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the 16th and 17th Centuries.
Reiko Kimura: Traditional and Contemporary Music for Japanese Koto
Three centuries of music for Japanese koto are performed by virtuoso Reiko Kimura in this concert, recorded at the Freer Gallery on January 15, 1998. Compositions range from the exquisitely delicate to the rambunctiously adventuresome, and feature both the traditional thirteen-string koto and the contemporary twenty-string koto. This concert was presented in cooperation with Music From Japan, Inc. (New York) as part of the Music From Japan Festival 1998. Four years earlier, Kimura joined the New York Philharmonic Orchestra as guest koto player for the premiere of Minoru Miki's Symphony of Two Worlds at Lincoln Center.
Sufi Music from India: The Chishty Sufi Sama Ensemble
Hear the driving rhythms and vocal gymnastics of qawwali, Sufi music from South Asia, performed by an ensemble based in Ajmer Sharif, one of India's most sacred Sufi shrines. Present throughout much of the Islamic world, Sufis seek to personally experience the divine through music, poetry, self-discipline, and contemplation. The Chishty order of Sufis was founded in India in the thirteenth century.
This recording was made live in concert at the Meyer Auditorium on April 30, 2011.
Music of Empire and Faith: The Gulbenkian Choir
Immerse yourself in sacred choral music from seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe, performed by Lisbon's outstanding Gulbenkian Choir. The program features Baroque church music that parallels the Christian artwork created under Portuguese influence in India, China, and Japan. Included are works by Portuguese composers Pero de Gamboa and Francisco Antonio de Almeida, as well as famed Italian composer Domenico Scarlatti, who spent nine years as royal chapel master to the King of Portugal. This performance was recorded on June 23, 2007, in conjunction with the exhibition Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the 16th and 17th Centuries. It was made possible, in part, through the generous support of the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.
Music for the Persian New Year: Mamak Khadem
Iranian-born vocalist Mamak Khadem, formerly of the Persian-fusion band Axiom of Choice, performs songs inspired by melodies from Armenia, Kurdistan, Baluchistan, and Turkey, as well as music from Iran. Her ensemble features Ole Mathisen, clarinet and saxophone; Jamshied Sharifi, keyboard; Hamid Saeidi, santur (hammered dulcimer); and Ben Wittman, percussion. This performance was recorded in concert at the Freer Gallery on March 7, 2009, as part of the Freer and Sackler's celebration of Nowruz, the Persian New Year.
North Indian Classical Music: Shujaat Khan, sitar; Abhiman Kaushal, tabla
Grammy Award nominee Shujaat Khan is one of the leading exponents of Indian classical music. On the occasion of India's fiftieth anniversary of independence, he performed at New York's Carnegie Hall and for the United Nations at Assembly Hall in Geneva, Switzerland. He also has appeared at Royal Albert Hall in London, Royce Hall in Los Angeles, and Congress Hall in Berlin. With the innovative Indo-Persian trio Ghazal, he earned a Grammy nomination in 2004 for the group's third recording, Rain.
This performance was recorded in concert at the Freer Gallery on April 30, 2010.
Sukeyasu Shiba's Gagaku Universe: The Reigakusha Ensemble
Japanese composer Sukeyasu Shiba leads his Reigakusha ensemble in a performance of original and reconstructed music for the ancient royal ensemble known as gagaku. A longtime member of the gagaku orchestra for the Imperial Household Agency, Shiba composes works that revitalize a highly ritualized musical repertoire rarely heard in the West. This performance was part of the thirty-fifth anniversary celebration of Music From Japan, based in New York City, and marked that organization's twelfth annual program at the Freer Gallery. Recorded in concert February 24, 2010.
Whistler and Music: Ieva Jokubaviciute, piano
This piano performance explores the influence of American expatriate artist James McNeill Whistler on the music of French composer Claude Debussy, as well as their mutual connections to Japan. Whistler borrowed the title of Frédéric Chopin's piano nocturnes of the 1830s for his nighttime landscapes of the 1870s, which in turn inspired Debussy's orchestral nocturnes of the 1890s. In addition, both Whistler and Debussy admired Japanese woodblock prints and incorporated them into their work.
This concert, by the young Lithuanian-born pianist Ieva Jokubaviciute, was recorded as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series at the Freer Gallery of Art on March 4, 2004.
L. Subramaniam: Master of Indian Music
One of the giants of Indian classical music made his first Smithsonian appearance since 1994 for this concert, recorded on September 24, 2009. During the thirty years of his international career, L. Subramaniam has performed with jazz artists Stéphane Grapelli, Herbie Hancock, and Jean-Luc Ponty, as well as the New York Philharmonic; written film scores for Salaam Bombay! and Mississippi Masala; earned a Grammy nomination; and received the revered title of Padma Bhushan from the president of India.
Contemporary Music for Japanese Instruments: Sawai Koto Ensemble
Hear the exhilarating music of the late Japanese composer Tadao Sawai and his son Hikaru Sawai, performed by this twenty-piece ensemble of traditional Japanese instruments. Kazue Sawai and her ensemble have collaborated with such composers as John Zorn, John Cage, and Sofia Gubaidulina, and appeared at Lincoln Center and the Bang on a Can Festival in New York. This performance took place in the Freer Gallery's Meyer Auditorium on May 4, 2001, and was co-sponsored by the Embassy of Japan.
Persian Classical Music: Bahman Panahi, tar and setar
Ali Mojallal, tombak
Enjoy a recital by the Paris-based Iranian virtuoso Bahman Panahi, who made his American debut in 2009 at Harvard University. He is one of the leading exponents of Persian classical music, an improvisational tradition related to the ragas of India. Trained in calligraphy as well as music, Panahi has appeared in concerts and workshops throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, and has performed at Carnegie Hall. This concert was recorded in the Freer Gallery's Meyer Auditorium on Friday, October 30, 2009, in conjunction with the exhibition Falnama: The Book of Omens.
Hear the world premiere of Vivian Fung's String Quartet no. 2, commissioned by the Shanghai Quartet, along with Mozart's String Quartet no. 15 and Beethoven's monumental Quartet opp. 130/133, performed by one of the world's leading chamber music ensembles. The Shanghai Quartet has appeared annually at the Freer Gallery of Art since 1996. One of their recent performances inspired the Washington Post to applaud their "self-effacing beauty of sound . . . gorgeous tone with an unwavering unanimity of expressive intent . . . a musical conversation of stunning authenticity and presence." This concert was recorded before a live audience as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series on April 23, 2009.
From Moldavia to Istanbul: The Musical World of Dimitrie Cantemir
Travel to the Ottoman Empire through the music of composer, scholar, and diplomat Dimitrie Cantemir (1673–1723), a flamboyant and brilliant figure who served four Ottoman sultans and Russia's Tsar Peter the Great. Cantemir's treatise on Turkish classical music included more than three hundred fifty original compositions. After he led an ill-fated rebellion against the Ottomans in his native Moldavia, he escaped to Moscow where he organized lavish musical events with his daughter, a harpsichordist trained in the Italian style. Turkish instrumentalists Neva Oezgen and Murat Aydemir join the baroque music ensemble Lux Musica to recreate the sounds of Cantemir's Moldavian homeland and his careers in Istanbul and Moscow.
Iraqi Jazz Fusions: Amir ElSaffar's Two Rivers
Iraqi-American jazz artist Amir ElSaffar leads this cross-cultural quintet in a live concert rendition of Two Rivers, an original multi-movement work inspired by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the current strife in Iraq, and the common ground between American jazz and Iraqi classical music. ElSaffar sets the modes of Arab music to innovative grooves, free ensemble playing, and multilayered sound textures, resulting in a work that the BBC praises as “harrowing to absorb, full of as much beauty as pain.” He performs on trumpet, santur, and vocals, along with Rudresh Mahanthappa, saxophone; Nasheet Waits, drums; Carlo De Rosa, bass; and Jason Adasiewicz, vibraphone. This concert was made possible, in part, with support from the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, and was recorded in concert in the Freer Gallery’s Meyer Auditorium on February 7, 2009.
A New World of Sound: PRISM Saxophone Quartet and Music From China
In this first-of-its-kind collaboration, soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones join with traditional Chinese instruments to perform new works written for them by Grammy Award-winners Zhou Long and Chen Yi, among others. The New York Times praised the PRISM Quartet for its "sensitivity, technical assurance, and mellow sweet sound," while the Kansas City Star raved that "Music From China is music from heaven." This performance was recorded in concert in the Freer's Meyer Auditorium on March 1, 2009.
A Korean and American Jazz Excursion: Five Directions
Six boundary-breaking musicians from Korea and the United States join forces for this cross-cultural jazz collaboration evoking the origins of the universe, the cosmic balance of yin and yang, and the five elements of creation. Three leading lights of the New York improv scene—Ned Rothenberg (clarinet, saxophone, and shakuhachi), Erik Friedlander (cello), and Satoshi Takeishi (percussion)—are joined by three Korean musicians—Yoon Jeong Heo (geomungo/zither), Kwon Soon Kang (vocal), and Young Chi Min (daegum/flute and janggo/drum) —for this unique experiment that blends free jazz and traditional Korean music. This concert took place in the Freer Gallery's Meyer Auditorium on December 9, 2008.
Balinese Music and Dance: Gamelan Mitra Kusuma
Experience the shimmering brilliance of a Balinese gamelan orchestra and see images of the dramatic dances from the island's Hindu-Balinese traditions as the Washington, D.C., area's own Gamelan Mitra Kusuma (Flowering Friendship) performs a program of classical and contemporary repertoire. Three guest artists join gamelan director I Nyoman Suadin, who studied at Bali's Conservatory of the Performing Arts and currently teaches at the University of Maryland, Swarthmore College, and the Eastman School of Music. This performance took place in the Freer Gallery's Meyer Auditorium on December 4, 2008.
Between Tides: Chamber Music from Japan
An international quartet of musicians combines Western and Japanese instruments to perform music written during the course of the twentieth-century, from Kosaku Yamadas "Seven Poems" (1914) to Toru Takemitsus "Between Tides" (1993). Masayo Ishigure has performed on koto at Lincoln Center and on John Williamss soundtrack for the feature film "Memoirs of a Geisha." James Wilson was a long-time cellist with the Shanghai Quartet. Pianist Kathryn Woodard served as a consultant to Yo-Yo Mas "Silk Road Project." Violinist Theresa Salomon completes this outstanding ensemble. Recorded in concert in the Meyer Auditorium on October 2, 2008.
Arab Music from Iraq: Rahim Alhaj, oud; Souhail Kaspar, percussion
Iraqi-born musician Rahim Alhaj earned a 2008 Grammy nomination for his CD titled When the Soul Is Settled: Music of Iraq, released on the Smithsonian Folkways label. He studied at the famed Baghdad Conservatory under the late Munir Bashir, who was perhaps the greatest oud (Arab lute) master of the twentieth century. Since arriving in the United States in 2000, Alhaj has released three more CDs, including one of original music for oud and string quartet. Legendary jazz guitarist Bill Frisell calls Alhaj's music "beautiful, mysterious, and powerful." Recorded in concert in the Meyer Auditorium on July 31, 2007.
Sufi Music from Iran: Persian National Music Ensemble
The Freer and Sackler Galleries celebrated the 800th anniversary of the birth of the Sufi poet Jalal-a-Din Rumi with a day of concerts, poetry readings, family activities, and gallery tours. The Persian National Music Ensemble, based in Baltimore, told stories of Rumi's life, reflected on his philosophy, recited selected poems, and performed traditional musical settings of Rumi's lyrics sung by vocalist Firoozeh Zarrabi, accompanied by santur (hammered zither), tar (lute), and daff and tombak (percussion). This studio recording presents the same program performed at the Freer Gallery of Art on October 27, 2007.
Portrait of Hwang Byungki: New and Traditional Music for Korean Instruments
Hwang Byungki is Korea’s acclaimed master of the classical kayagum, an ancient ancestor of the Japanese koto. His six-member ensemble performs traditional music and original works by Hwang on kayagum, taegum (flute), komungo (zither), and changgu (hour-glass drum). Hwang Byungki has toured internationally for more than forty years. In 1990, he led an ensemble to North Korea to perform in a landmark concert advocating the reunification of Korea. Recorded in concert in the Meyer Auditorium on June 5, 2007.
North Indian Classical Music: Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, mohan vina; Subhen Chatterjee, tabla
Part 1 of 2: Rag Puriya Kalyan (1:08:15)
Part 2 of 2: Rag Desh, Rag Kirwani, and Meeting by the River (50:47)
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Grammy Award-winner Vishwa Mohan Bhatt expanded the Hawaiian slide guitar to incorporate nineteen strings, which allows him to combine the techniques of Indian classical music from several traditional instruments, such as the sitar, sarod, and vina. He has performed worldwide, including appearances at the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the United Nations and for the celebration at Lincoln Center of Mahatma Ganhi's 125th birthday. Subhen Chatterjee has accompanied such masters as Bhimsen Joshi, V. G. Jog, and Rashid Khan. This concert was presented in celebration of the Freer's "Arts of the Indian Subcontinent and the Himalayas." Recorded live in the Meyer Auditorium, Freer Gallery of Art, March 28, 2008.
Musicians from Marlbaro
Six veterans of the venerable Marlboro Music Festival perform Franz Joseph Haydn's String Quartet, op. 20, no. 4 (1772); Elliott Carter's Figment IV, for unaccompanied viola (2007, American premiere); Carter's Quartet for Oboe and Strings (2001); and Robert Schumann's Quartet for Piano and Strings, op. 47 (1842). The ensemble features Susie Park and Harumi Rhodes, violins; Samuel Rhodes, viola; Priscilla Lee, cello; Rudolph Vrbsky, oboe; and Ieva Jokubaciute, piano. Recorded live in the Freer Gallery's Meyer Auditorium on March 18, 2008, as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series. [1:17:08]
Haydn: String Quartet in D Major (0:00-26:50)
Carter: Figment IV (27:14-30:15)
Carter: Oboe Quartet (30:33-47:27)
Schumann: Piano Quartet (47:55-1:16:42)
Enjoying the Flowers: Chinese Music & Drama
The Gang-a-Tsui Ensemble of Taiwan
Enjoy this rarely heard tradition of Chinese music and drama called nanguan. Dating from the early seventeenth-century Ming dynasty, it has been revived by Chinese musicians and actors in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia. It is performed here by vocalists and instrumentalists on Chinese fiddle, lute, gongs, flute, and percussion. The centerpiece of the performance is an excerpt from Enjoying the Flowers, a famous scene in the nanguan repertoire. In this episode, a lady's maid conjures up imagery of bees, butterflies, birds, and flowers to convince her patron to express her frustrated love through romantic poetry. [38:13]
Premiere Works: Music From China Ensemble
Enjoy new works for traditional Chinese instruments by award-winning composers Chen Yi, Zhou Long, and Wang Guowei, plus a pair of winning compositions from the seventeenth-annual Music From China International Composers Competition. New York's Music From China ensemble performs the classical "Moon Rising High," newly arranged by Zhou Long; Chen Yi's "Chinese Fables," and Shen Yiwen's "Study in Terra Cotta," among other new works. The Kansas City Star called the Music From China ensemble "music from heaven" and "exceptionally rewarding." (See www.musicfromchina.org.) (46:30)
From the Lamplighting Psalms (14th and 15th century): Kekragarion; 3 Stichera Prosomoia for Saint Catherine; Doxastikon (Sticheron Idiomelon) (16:44)
Advent and Christmas: Service of the Furnace: A liturgical drama of the Three Holy Children; Imperial Acclamations for Christmastide (MS Sinai 1234) (36:47)
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.
Samavedic chant (traditional), Venkatesh Sastri, Sri Siva Vishnu Temple. (15:43)
Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda, Gustav Holst. Woodley Ensemble; Frank Albinder, music director; Mark Vogel, piano. (53:03)
The Woodley Ensemble, the area's leading chamber choir, gives the Washington premiere of Gustav Holst's rarely heard Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda. Holst made his own translations from the Sanskrit for this work, which he completed in 1918. Traditional Vedic chants offered by the chief priest at the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple, one of the Washington area's oldest and largest Hindu temples, precede the concert. Frank Albinder, conductor of the Woodley Ensemble, was long-time associate director of the Grammy Award-winning Chanticleer choir of San Francisco. Presented in conjunction with the centennial of Freer's 1906 gift to the Smithsonian. Recorded live in the Meyer Auditorium October 14, 2006.
Arab Music from Palestine: The Oriental Music Ensemble
Here is an unprecedented opportunity to hear this quartet of faculty members from the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Jerusalem on their debut American tour. The ensemble performs classical and contemporary Arab music for 'ud, nay, clarinet, qanun, and percussion. The conservatory, with campuses in Bethlehem and Ramallah, was famously endorsed by both Edward Said and conductor Daniel Barenboim for its teaching of Western and Arab music to Palestinian youth. Presented in cooperation with American Near East Refugee Aid. Recorded live at the Freer Gallery of Art on February 16, 2006. (42:02)
Sounds from the Sultan's Court: The Neva Duo
Fresh from his West Coast tour, Murat Aydemir, a young Turkish tanbur (lute) virtuoso, joins veteran ney (flute) master Salih Bilgin for informal performances of Ottoman Turkish music from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Hear the sounds of musical instruments that are often depicted in Ottoman paintings and were central to musical life in the Ottoman court. Recorded live at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery January 14, 2006.
Tan Dun's Map Project and China's Endangered Music
Internationally acclaimed composer/conductor Tan Dun, whose many accomplishments include an Academy Award for his score to the hit film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," leads this discussion/demonstration exploring the vanishing musical cultures of ethnic minorities in western Hunan. His discusses his most recent creation, The Map, which combines a stone-drumming ensemble, cello soloist, the Shanghai Symphony, and video of traditional dance. The talk follows the American premiere of the work at the Kennedy Center on October 17, 2005. A co-presentation with the Kennedy Center's Performance Plus program. Recorded live at the Freer Gallery October 18, 2005. (46:41)
Formosa Aboriginal Song and Dance Troupe
Experience the haunting choral melodies and evocative dances of the aboriginal Bunun and Ami tribes of Taiwan's high central mountains and rugged east coast. The troupe appeared at Lincoln Center's Out of Doors Festival, prompting the New York Times to delare, "The city's busy skyscape paled before the authority, simplicity, and radiant humanity of the company." The surprisingly modern choral sounds of the Bunun shocked musicologists who first heard it 60 years ago, and Bunun musicians were featured on the recent CD with ECM recording artist, cellist David Darling. To preserve and share the island's rich aboriginal culture, the ensemble draws its membership from Taiwan's twelve native tribes. This concert was presented in cooperation with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office. Recorded live at the Freer Gallery October 9, 2005. (26:30)
Sufi Music from Rajasthan: Rangeela
Travel to the fabled caravan routes of desert India with this eight-member ensemble. Their infectious rhythms spring from thirty-six generations of musicians who performed for Rajput maharajas and at temple festivals, where Muslim musicians, Hindu devotion, and rich local culture blended with invigorating results. Presented in cooperation with Folk Arts Rajasthan. Recorded live at the Freer Gallery September 18, 2005. (1:09:16)
Most Recent PodcastsThe Legacy of Munir Bashir: Omar Bashir
Koto Meets Quartet
The Arirang of Tori
Calefax Reed Quintet
Sounds of the Dragon
Master of Persian Music: Hossein Alizadeh
Baila Music from Sri Lanka: The Gypsies