Rahim Alhaj
Saturday, May 4, 2013, 8:00 pm (doors open at 7:00 pm)Iraqi oud virtuoso's traditional Iraqi maqam with contemporary styling $24.50 advance / $26.50 at doorPurchase tickets online
May 04 8:00 pm

Rahim AlhajRahim Alhaj is a world-renowned master of the oud from Baghdad, Iraq who found his way to America after the first Gulf War in 1991. The San Francisco Chronicle calls him “one of the top oud players in the world.” The Los Angeles Times praises his “unique combination of traditional and innovative performance techniques” and says that his “spontaneous inventions are constantly fascinating.” He has recorded seven albums, earned two Grammy nominations for Best Traditional World Music Recording, and worked with such artists as genre-busting guitarist Bill Frisell, modern accordion innovator Guy Klucevsek, Indian sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan, and indie-rock pioneers REM. His poignant music plucks at the heartstrings and burrows deep into the soul.

The oud, in case you’ve never seen or heard one, is a pear-shaped stringed instrument similar to the lute. Its origins, according to legend, go all the way back to a descendant of Cain, and its healing powers have long won praise. “It places the temperament in equilibrium,” said the 19th century writer Muhammad Shihab al-Din. “It calms and revives hearts.” Rahim started playing oud at age nine, and soon showed evidence of remarkable talent. He studied under the incomparable Munir Bashir, considered by many to be the greatest oud player in history, at the Institute of Music in Baghdad, winning many awards and graduating in 1990 with a diploma in composition. After the first Gulf War, he spent many years in exile in Jordan and Syria before arriving in America in 2000. According to an interview in the New York Times, a refugee worker found him a job at McDonald’s. “What kind of institute is that?” Rahim asked. “Do they teach Arabic classical music there?” Now firmly established in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he became an American citizen in 2008. “I have a chance to raise my voice here,” he says. And we have the chance to enjoy his beautiful music.

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