Welcome to the Spring 2014 Season!  Aswat’s next major concert is “Aleppo Alive” featuring Qudud Halabiyyah, directed by Maestro Fathi Aljarah.  The concert will be on June 28, 2014 at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco.

If you are interested in joining Aswat this season, please email us at zawaya.admin@gmail.com, and tell us your name, and what in capacity (singer? instrumentalist?) you want to participate.  Thanks!

Rehearsal Calendar

Rehearsals are held at ICCNC, 1433 Madison Street, Downtown Oakland, CA

Singer rehearsals:  1:00-2:00 pm for Arabic; 2:00-5:00 pm rehearsal proper
Musician and ensemble rehearsals:  2:00 – 5:00 pm

1/19 Singers
1/26 Singers
2/2 Musicians
2/9 Ensemble
2/16 Singers
2/23 Singers
3/2 Musicians
3/9 Ensemble
3/16 Singers
3/23 Singers
3/30 Musicians
4/6 Ensemble
4/13 Singers
4/20 Singers
4/27 Musicians
5/4 Ensemble
5/11 Singers
5/18 Singers
5/25 Musicians
6/1 Ensemble
6/8 Ensemble
6/15 Ensemble
6/22 Ensemble

“Aleppo Alive” will consist of a “Wasleh”, a suite of songs and instrumental pieces in the Aleppine tradition, which is threatened existentially by the current civil war in Syria.It is a concert borne of a sentiment to help save the endangered musical heritage of Syria – especially of Aleppo,  a historically significant centuries-old artistic hub of civilizations. Since Zawaya’s mandate is to preserve, present, and promote Arab music, at no point in time is this mandate more relevant than the present with Aleppo’s ongoing destruction.

Let Aswat transport you back in time and immerse you in a total, sensual experience by recreating the typical setting  where this music was performed. Visually, you will be captivated by the colorful costumes of the performers as well as the rich tapestry that will engulf the stage from every angle. If permitted by the venue, the scent and aroma of Arab coffee, flowers, and incense will also be a notable characteristic of the warm and rich atmosphere. Translation of the lyrics will be projected on a separate screen that will be visible to all.


About Qudud Halabiyyah

The Wasleh is in every sense considered to be music of the people and has been passed down orally through generations. Traditionally, the Wasleh suite of songs is comprised of two types of material, namely Muwashshahat and Qudud Al Halabiyya. The Muwashshahat are usually performed using classical Arabic language and have their origins from the Andalusia region; however, they employ rhythms and melodies from mixed backgrounds. They are typically thought of as poetry expressed through music and for this reason they symbolize the spirit of Arab music, employing a lot of embellishment or decoration.

In contrast to the Muwashshahat, the Qudud are sung in both standard and colloquial Arabic and are often performed in a different scale. The Qudud originate specifically out of Aleppo, one of the world’s oldest cities. Their melodies and rhythms tend to be borrowed, in bits and pieces, from nearby regions including Turkey, Iraq, Egypt and Persia; however, their lyrics are usually written by local musicians or lyricists in Aleppo. The Qudud can be considered as a simplified form of the Muwashshahat and are really meant to lighten the atmosphere of the entire suite of songs. The Qudud songs typically refer to simple rural or village life. They have a romantic and nostalgic flare because they pay homage to people’s connections to nature and daily life.

The overall structure of the Wasleh progresses from slow and heavy rhythms, typical of the Muwashshahat genre, to quicker and lighter tempos found in Qudud. The progression takes the audience through sections of improvised instrumental and vocal material. It may even cause or stimulate a type of altered state known as”tarab” in listeners, which is typically translated as musical ecstasy and is considered to be an important part of Arab music culture. More specifically, tarab is a result of the dynamic exchange of energy through music between the performers and the audience, augmented by the contrasted sense of or desensitization to the element of time. At the end of a successful performance, the audience should be up on its feet, clapping, dancing and often singing along with the performers.


About Aswat

The musical voice of Arab America in the Bay Area is Aswat, which is sponsored by Zawaya. True to Zawaya’s commitment to pluralism and inclusion, Aswat is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-religious music ensemble that reaches out to the diverse Bay Area community with folkloric, classical, contemporary, and sacred Arab music. Aswat’s doors remain open to all who want to participate in the exciting, enriching exchange between Arab Americans and other communities through the universal language of music. For more information about Aswat, please visit www.zawaya.org.


About Fathi Aljarah

Mr. Aljarah is an Aleppine musical artist in every sense.  He was born and raised in Aleppo, and trained extensively in, and practiced, classical Aleppine musical tradition, especially Muwashshah and al-Qudud al-Halabiyyah, traditional Arab music genres that are a mixture of traditional musical styles that were consolidated in Aleppo over centuries.  Mr. Aljarah is no amateur or dilettante; he was an apprentice of Sabah Fakhri, the undisputed 20th century al-Qudud al-Halabiyyah master of Syria, and possesses extensive knowledge of Arab folk and classical music and history. He is also a multi-awarded and accomplished composer and recording artist, having authored some of Syria’s folk songs and many popular hits, and a talented performer, having toured internationally with Syria’s music legends and masters.  Mr. Aljarah is a respected musician in Syria and in the Bay Area.  He is active in the Bay Area Arab music scene.  He is often invited as a featured guest at concerts and in recordings, and was Aswat’s guest music director in 2009.  The caliber of Mr. Aljarah’s musicianship and the quality of his work is simply unassailable; one need only hear his classical Arab music compositions to understand that one is dealing with a master in his own right.  Being Syrian  -Aleppan, no less-  Mr. Aljarah has a personal stake in salvaging Aleppo itself, much less its music, and has the perfect credentials to do so as a musician.