Christiane Karam, assistant professor of Voice/Ensemble and Songwriting, and founder and co-director of Berklee’s Middle Eastern Music Festival, writes about the upcoming festival, and shares a rehearsal video. Read the official press release here.
Hi everyone! Christiane Karam here: assistant professor of voice/ensemble and songwriting, and Middle Eastern Festival founder and co-director with this year’s esteemed featured guest, multi-Grammy award winning flamenco great, Artistic Director of Berklee in Valencia’s Mediterranean Music Institute and our very own visiting professor, Javier Limon. Collaborating on this project has been an incredible joy and we are both very excited to present you with a rainbow of musical colors from the Middle East, the Balkans and the Mediterranean, with a focus on Spain and Andalusia, of course, in this Flamenco-themed edition of the Annual Middle Eastern festival. All these musical cultures share so much, and it’s fascinating to explore how deep these connections run, from rhythms to modes to instruments–we even share similar food and life experiences!
One of the main goals of the festival each year is to focus on a particular musical tradition form those regions, and connect it to everything around it. It’s an incredibly rewarding process for all involved, as we learn about and experience how beautiful and connected it all is. This year’s edition is especially exhilarating, as it brings together 3 performance ensembles to share the stage, alongside very special guests throughout the show. These ensembles are the Berklee Middle Eastern Fusion Ensemble, led by Javier and I this semester, the Berklee Flamenco Vocal ensemble, led by Javier, and the Balkan Vocal ensemble led by myself. With these groups, we’ve been working on exploring the connections that exist between all 3 cultures and as you will see in the concert, many of the arrangements were created on the spot by the students themselves. It’s been a lot of work, but we have all been learning a lot and really enjoying the interactive nature of the process. In this particular rehearsal, we were experimenting with the rhythmic connection between a balkan vocal piece and a flamenco song. Who knew?!
The concert will hold many of those moments, but will also present traditional music from all three cultures. It will also pay tribute to a very unique and beloved figure in flamenco today, Enrique Morente, who passed away last year and remains one of the most celebrated voices of modern flamenco in Spain. Morente was especially known for his experimental approach to flamenco and his love for fusing it with other traditions, and we found it particularly fitting to honor him and his music in our show.
We’ll have over 50 students from 27 countries and some very special guests with us on stage, and we really hope you can join us for this once in a lifetime, larger than life celebration of Flamenco, Middle Eastern, Balkan and Mediterranean music.
A special thank you to the Office of Academic Affairs, the Ensemble Office, the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, External Affairs, Faculty Development, the Performance Division, Special Programs and Berklee in Valencia for sponsoring and supporting this event.
Let the music play. Olé!!! xx Christiane