The instruments and musical traditions of the Middle East are the focus of a festival that will come to Surrey for the first time this month.
The annual Global Soundscapes Festival, an initiative of Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra (VICO), includes a concert date at Surrey Arts Centre’s Studio Theatre on Wednesday, June 27, featuring Elshan Mansurov and Elcin Nagijev in a showcase of the maqam musical tradition, a type of Arabic melody, using the stringed instruments kamanche and tar.
From Azerbaijan, the duo will be joined on stage by vocalist Jamal Kurdistani, a North Vancouver resident, and tombak player Mohammad Seyyedi.
The 2018 Global Soundscapes fest starts June 16 and concludes with the concert in Surrey.
VICO artistic director Mark Armanini said Surrey is a place the orchestra wants to explore.
“We’ve been coming out to Surrey with other projects, but we’re really quite interested in reaching out, because we know there are a lot of people there in the Fraser Valley, that way, who are really part of this scene, and Coquitlam is another place like that, and so we’re wanting to include them in what we do,” Armanini said Friday.
“The Surrey Arts Centre is an incredible, wonderful place as well, and they’ve made us feel quite welcome.”
The June 27 concert here will feature “a very strong traditional music style that’s very sort of un-commercialized,” Armanini explained.
“These people are from Azerbaijan and they teach at a conservatory,” he said. “I met them in Amsterdam at an intercultural music workshop, and I worked with them several times before. As far as their traditional presentation goes, it’s fantastic, but they also are very open to working with other people and also, I wanted to show that sort of dichotomy there, of one foot in the past and one in the future, that these guys are going through. It’s very different from the west, (the nation) where they’re from, and also they have music skills I wanted to show. One of those skills is being able to work with an orchestra but also being able to improvise, and that’s very relatable to people here, aside from the cultural connections.”
In Vancouver, the festival’s “celebration of Middle Eastern Music in Canada” includes a June 20 concert featuring Surrey-based Borealis String Quartet with guests Saeed Mirzazadeh (tar), Saina Khaledi (santur) and Navid Goldrick (oud), at Granville Island’s Waterfront Theatre.