Join us for a Reed Society x BusBoys and Poets event: D.C. film premiere of Wajd: Songs of Separation.
Director Amar Cehbib traveled to Syria in 2010. Touched by the harrowing experiences of the friends he made, Wajd transformed into the stories of three musicians turned refugees who were forced to rebuild their lives in exile. They turned to their love of music to help them find meaning in the aftermath of destruction and atrocity. Intimate footage of their daily lives weaves together with bittersweet musical performances, extremely rare Sufi ceremonies, and poetic imagery of a pre-war Syria that no longer exists. What unfolds is a cinematic meditation on loss, yearning, and faith.
Join us for this film screening and an opportunity to meet the director of the film, Amar Chebib. Jason Hamacher, musician and founder of Lost Origins Productions, will also be present to discuss his recordings of ancient Syrian chants.
The Al-Firdaus Ensemble from Granada, Spain will be performing at Marvin Center Ballroom on Sunday November 18th. The Al-Firdaus Ensemble’s compositions hails a rich heritage from thirteen century Andalusian Classical music in addition to original compositions with Celtic, Flamenco, Arabic, and Turkish influences.
The group takes its inspiration from the word Firdaus, which is the Arabic name, of Persian origin, for the most elevated abode in Paradise. The intercultural nature of this name reflects the character of the group in which musicians from different countries and cultural backgrounds are brought together with one purpose. Just as the musicians tune their instruments, so they need to tune their hearts to receive the inspiration of the moment and transmit that to the audience. The traditional Arabic term for this kind of music is sama` which could be translated as “the art of listening”.
The RSSA partnered with the Threshold Society and hosted a Mevlevi poetry workshop presenting Kabir and Camille Helminski. Kabir Helminski is one of the top translators and teachers of Mevlana Rumi tradition in the US. A weekend filled with reflections and recitations of Jalaal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi, Rumi’s poem were revived from pages to hearts.
The Reed Society partnered with the GWU Pakistani Students’ Association to host a qawwali presenting the Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad Ensemble. The event was opened by scholar Dr. Tarek Elgawhary from Coexist to speak on the importance of celebrating all aspects of Propehet Muhammad’s life (PBUH).
“Qawaali music, is the physical and musical manifestation of the Sufi religious tradition in South Asia. Powerful, poetic & transcendent, its hypnotic rhythms and melodies celebrate God, love and music as one."
After spending seven years in Turkey receiving his Islamic calligraphy diploma (icazet), Khalid Casado lives in Spain and regularly tours internationally for workshops and calligraphy competitions. The RSSA partnered with the GWU MSA to host a calligraphy workshop with the master calligrapher.
Through the partnership with the GWU Afghan Student Association, the RSSA hosted Amir Vahab and his ensemble for a free concert at the Hand Chapel.
The RSSA also arranged for Amir Vahab to debut at DC’s world music stage, Capital Fringe, a center of creativity and community, alongside another RSSA partner, the Shakti Foundation.
The Reed Society for Sacred Arts organized a popular lecture on Arabic Calligraphy at the Textile Museum. This event was a collaboration among GW Confucius Institute, GW Arabic Language, Literature, and Culture Program Department, GW Religion Department and the RSSA. The lecture helped deepen understanding of Arabic calligraphy, and the topic interacted with several other fields of study. The Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dean Ben Vinson III, provided his remarks to welcome and thank the guest artists and audience.
The event included three esteemed guest artists and calligraphers: Haji Noor Deen, Mohamed Zakariya, and Khalid Casado. Though they come from different backgrounds, they all focus on Arabic Calligraphy, their own interpretation of divinity in the written form, and the eternal bonds shared between masters and their students.
This concert was the first of many partnerships RSSA has in engaging both the local community and more importantly: the youth. Co-sponsored by the Pakistani Students’ Association at the George Washington University, RSSA was able to bridge the gap between generations through this mystical form of music. This group is unique in that it is comprised mostly of non-native Urdu speakers, Caucasian Americans and Canadians who learned this tradition art from esteemed teachers in Pakistan, and were able to uphold the divine tradition of the music and act as a bridge between different cultures. The concert was in memoriam of the late Amjad Sabri, a famous qawwal ruthlessly murdered by the Taliban. This concert sold out a week before the event.
RSSA tries to revive the divinity in traditionally sacred art forms. At this concert, the introductory talk by a Sufi master from a family of Sufi teachers lent a vital piece in most qawwali concerts in America--context. In his talk, he not only compared the human body to various instruments ( the harmonium to our lungs and diaphragm, the tabla to the beating of our hearts and each singer singing the song of life that we all sing everyday), his presence framed the qawwali in the way it has been been originally presented: a means for transformation, even for a moment. As RSSA’s first event, it was considered a success: a sold out, youth-led, concert of mystical Sufi music where the 700 year old tradition was at the center in the center of the nation’s capital.