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Rahim AlHaj Trio steps in for a concert at college

As an Iraqi immigrant to the United States, oud virtuoso and composer Rahim AlHaj uses his musical talents to spread hope and peace. On Friday, Oct. 19, AlHaj — a two-time Grammy nominee — will join Iranian santur player Sourena Sefati and Palestinian-American percussionist Issa Malluf in a concert of Middle Eastern music at the Mahaney Center for the Arts.
The Rahim AlHaj Trio is filling in the concert date for the originally scheduled Moody Amiri.
“We deeply regret that Moody Amiri are unable to appear due to the current U.S. travel ban on Iranian nationals,” Performing Arts Series director Allison Coyne Carroll explained. “We feel very fortunate to be able to present the esteemed Rahim AlHaj Trio in their stead. Rahim’s music demonstrates friendship, understanding and an acknowledgement of humanity’s oneness as we all try to live in peace under the same sky.”
About the Musicians
Rahim AlHaj (oud) was born in Baghdad, Iraq. He studied under musicians at the Institute of Music in Baghdad, and holds a diploma in composition, as well as a degree in Arabic Literature from Mustunsariya University in Baghdad. AlHaj was forced to leave Iraq after the first Gulf War due to his activism against the Saddam Hussein regime. He settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 2000.
AlHaj has performed around the globe, recording with diverse master musicians including guitarist Bill Frisell, modern accordion innovator Guy Klucevsek, Indian sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan, and indie rock pioneers R.E.M. His compositions combine traditional Iraqi maqams with contemporary styling and influence, evoking the experience of exile from his homeland and of new beginnings in his adopted country. AlHaj has received two Grammy nominations, and in 2015 he was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor for traditional arts in the U.S.
Sourena Sefati (santour) was born in Ramsar, Iran. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Iranian Music from University of Tehran (2002) and his Master’s degree in Iranian Music Performance from Art University of Tehran (2008). He was music instructor at Art University and Elmi-Karbordi University in Tehran from 2008-2014. Sefati is the author of a book of etudes for santour, has performed in Europe, Asia and Africa, and was soloist at Iran Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra (2009-2014), Iranian Chamber Orchestra (2009), and Mehrnavazan National Orchestra (2011). Sefati moved to the United States in 2014, and teaches Iranian music in Albuquerque.
Issa Malluf (percussion) is a Palestinian-American native of New Mexico. Originally self-taught, he has become a highly skilled and internationally recognized specialist in Middle Eastern, Arabic and North African percussion. Malluf has performed nationally and internationally at venues as noteworthy as the Kennedy Center, ¡Globalquerque!, the National Folk Festival, the Chicago World Music Festival, and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. He has recorded and toured with an array of artists including Rahim AlHaj, indie-rock guitarist Peter Buck of R.E.M., Indian sarod master Amjad Ali Khan, and Eastern European, Balkan and Turkish influenced indie-world act “A Hawk and a Hacksaw.”
Catch the Rahim AlHaj Trio this Friday, at 7:30 p.m., at the Mahaney Center for the Arts’ Robison Hall. Tickets cost $22 for adults; $16 for Middlebury College faculty, staff, emeriti and alumni; $10 for youth; and $6 for Middlebury College students; and are on sale at 802-443-MIDD (6433) or middlebury.edu/arts/tickets. Tickets purchased for the Moody Amiri concert originally scheduled for this date/time will be honored.

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