Ensemble Al-Kindi, Ali Akbar Moradi | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Ensemble Al-Kindi, Ali Akbar Moradi

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Born in France in 1953, Bernard Weiss studied Western music until his early 20s, when his obsession with Arabic classical music prompted a move to Damascus. Mastering the kanun (a trapezoidal zither), Weiss formed the highly regarded Ensemble Al-Kindi in 1983 and converted to Islam in 1986, changing his name to Julien Jalal Edinne. The group's recent CDs each focus on a particular Arabic musical tradition; the most recent, this year's Aleppian Sufi Transe (Le Chant du Monde), samples the repertoire of the Sufi Qadiriyya brotherhood. This show is a performance of the Sufi liturgy of the Great Ummayyad Mosque in Damascus, led by its choirmaster and Koran reader Sheikh Hamza Shakkur. Whirling dervishes are usually associated with Turkey's Sufi brotherhoods, but Syria has them too, and four join the group for this performance; in addition to Edinne's kanun, Shakkur's authoritative voice, and a two-member chorus, there'll be musicians on ney (reed flute), oud, and riqq (tambourine). This is Ensemble Al-Kindi's Chicago debut; they were scheduled to perform at 2002's World Music Festival but weren't granted State Department security clearance in time. Also debuting here is Ali Akbar Moradi, a Kurdish Iranian master of the tanbur--a brittle-sounding lute that's one of the oldest instruments in Persian culture. Moradi began his career in the early 80s with Shahram Nazeri, one of Iran's finest classical singers, and since then he's recorded a series of gorgeous albums of traditional Kurdish music. His most recent, this year's In the Mirror of the Sky (World Village), pairs him with Iranian kemence (spike fiddle) player Kayhan Kalhor for a beautiful, sensitively rendered set of improvisations on Kurdish melodies. Moradi will be joined by his son Kouroush on tombak and daf, two hand drums. This show is a benefit for next year's World Music Festival. Monday 11/15, 7:30 PM, Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, 773-935-6860 or 312-559-1212, $25. All ages.

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