Tag Archives: music

The magical Oud

Music can sooth the busy mind, and calm the tormented soul.  Music can bring people together, and it can lift them above their struggles.

oudFive years ago, on a beautiful evening in Gaza, I was serenaded by an Oud player and his fellow musicians for several hours. The event was a complete surprise to me, and was without a doubt one of the highlights of my visit.  I will never forget the magical feeling I had that evening. “This can’t be real.”  “This is too good to be true.”  “Someone pinch me and wake me from this dream.”

I haven’t stopped thinking of these wonderful musicians in Gaza, especially the Oud player, Yehal Adel.  You can catch a snippet of Yehal’s talent here. He composed the music and words to this beautiful song about his love for Jerusalem.

Recently I was reminded of the power of the magical Oud when I heard Rahim AlHaj play in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  He was playing with a group at the St. John’s United Methodist Church.

Rahim AlHaj is world famous and his performance at the Library of Congress is just a sample.  I hope I can introduce these two Oud players, and someday they may play together!

Rahim AlHaj was born in Baghdad, Iraq and began playing the oud (Arabic lute) at age nine. He moved to the US in 2000 as a political refugee and has resided in Albuquerque, New Mexico, ever since. Rahim has performed around the globe and is considered one of the finest oud players in the world. His compositions evoke the experience of exile from his homeland and of new beginnings in his adopted country. In 2015 Rahim was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship.

Sourena Sefati was born in Ramsar, Iran, and started playing santour (hammered dulcimer) at age 11. He won the award for best composer of Iranian music at Art University in 2006 and served as instructor at Art University and Elmi-Karbordi University in Tehran from 2008 to 2014. Sourena moved to the United States in 2014, and teaches Iranian music in Albuquerque.

Issa Malluf is a Palestinian-American native of New Mexico. Originally self-taught, Issa has become a highly skilled and internationally recognized specialist in Middle Eastern, Arabic, and North African percussion.


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Filed under Gaza, Peaceful, People, Spiritual - Religion, Uncategorized, Video

Noise in Gaza

Car horns honking.  Lots of them everywhere.

Generators humming when the electricity goes off.

Merchants shouting through their bullhorn to grab the attention of the passerby.

Heavy equipment tearing down a building next door to replace it with a larger one.

The muezzin calling the faithful to prayer through a loudspeaker.

The familiar television game show and soap opera, along with commercials.

Fighting cats screeching.

Fire crackers popping almost every night because there’s a wedding almost every day.

Very loud recorded music with a DJ blasting out salutations (I think) to the bride and groom.  Good for dancing, not so much for conversing.

Ambulance sirens rushing someone to Shifa Hospital.

Shouting, shouting, shouting to be heard over the din of all this noise.

No surprise, I guess, that I never hear my cellphone ring.

These are the sounds of Occupation in Gaza.

I haven’t heard the drones, or gunfire, or rockets, or any of the sounds of fighting and conflict that I thought I might hear —- at least not yet.

A true story about the call to prayer.

The Israeli soldiers stopped a Palestinian man and ordered him to dance in the street to humiliate him in front of his family and friends.   The Palestinian agreed to dance if the soldiers would clap.   They put down their weapons and started to clap, giving the Palestinian time to run away.   They gave chase, running after him through the refugee camp.   But he was faster, and he got away.   He ran to the Mosque.

His family was worried about him but he couldn’t go home.  The soldiers were in the streets everywhere.  So he called the evening prayer over the loud-speaker at the Mosque.  He had a beautiful voice, quite distinctive, and when his family heard the call to prayer, they knew he was alright.

الحمد لله

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Filed under Gaza, Uncategorized