Glitz and glamour, hustle bustle, brouhaha and tranquility, and by far a music scene which can soothe the savage beast as well as work anyone up into a fury: New York City has it all! The ethnic diversity makes the city home to many musicians and genres from around the world. From hole in the wall dives to splendiferous Midtown theaters; Manhattan and Brooklyn remain the hubs of live music for all music lovers. We at Wear Your Music will share with you the melodious diversities waiting to meet your acquaintance by sharing some of the most popular (which may not always be the best known) venues for some of the most outstanding, electrifying sounds; from the Middle East.
Soaking the sunlight last week at Bryant Park, an orchestra of ethnic Middle Eastern music awoke me from basking the warmth, when I tried to figure out the direction from where the music came? Returning home, I began my search for places to experience this fusion in person. As stated above, scattered across the boroughs of NYC there's a little Middle Eastern delight to tickle everyone's fancy. In my opinion the top three places I would like to definitely explore are 'Alwan for the Arts' in Financial District where, Amir ElSaffar trumpeter/composer who may not perform every night, but when he does, the performance is said to be an experience within itself. In an auditorium like setup, he amalgamates traditional sounds, jazz and experimental beats, creating an ambiance of its own. On regular days the house band ‘Alwan All- Stars’ draws crowds by featuring a rotating cast with some of the world’s most magnetizing Middle Eastern musicians as well as talented Musicians of Middle Eastern descent from NYC to tantalize your evenings.
For a night full of fun, food and music, Barbes located between 6th & 7th Avenue in Brooklyn offers a variety of music and known to be ‘the’ place for music fanatics and beer buffs. Live performances throughout the week makes it one of the most recommended clubs in New York. Here too Middle Eastern bands have rocked many nights. It is suggested you call up in advance to find out which band is performing. At times you get to experience the sounds of those Middle Eastern bands which would otherwise be off the radar. Lastly, something I look forward to is witnessing a performance at The New York Arabic Orchestra which is home to contemporary and classical arabic music in USA. Founded by Bassam Saba, a multi-talented instrumentalist, conductor and teacher of Arabic music and April Centrone, the orchestra’s lead percussionist. The orchestra is said to have brought together a diverse group of musicians and synergized their talents towards their unified zest for Arabic music. The musicians, currently undergoing rigorous theory training this spring are actively working towards concocting a brand new concert program for fall 2013. This YouTube video link shows a compilation of various live performances throughout NYC. Their website informs you of their past performances, venues and upcoming events. I eagerly await their fall 2013 calendar to drift away into the sights and sounds of Arabic music. Come join me on my Middle Eastern experience! Till then, catch you next month with a new flavor.