Kinan Azmeh and Dinuk Wijeratne return (Mon Aug 21); Ethiocolor just announced, and more

Long-time favorites and supporters of WCCMA, Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and Sri Lankan pianist Dinuk Wijeratne will return as a duo for the first time since the pandemic. Their music fuses elements of Arabic and South-Asian vocabulary with classical and jazz music idioms to create a new sonic world. Performing in the outstanding acoustics of the historical Union Church on WCCMA’s beautiful Jesse R. Fillman Steinway means the listener gets an intimate performance that reminds you just why live music is so irreplaceable. The performance will be held on Monday August 21st at 6:30PM at WCCMA at the Union Church in Claremont NH, Tickets are sliding scale/donation. All funds go to support the ongoing presentation of accessible and exceptional live performances and arts education to the wider Claremont region. 

Both Azmeh and Wijerante have long impressive resumes, including performing at Carnegie Hall, working with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and many accolades and awards. Kinan Azmeh has gained international recognition and awards for his distinctive voice as a composer and a clarinetist across diverse musical genres. Wijeratne’s award-winning boundary-crossing work sees him equally at home in collaborations with symphony orchestras and string quartets, tabla players and DJs. Despite their busy schedules as multi-faceted international performers and musicians Azmeh and Wijeratne have maintained close ties to West Claremont Center for Music and the Arts and Executive Director Melissa Richmond, including serving on WCCMA’s artistic advisory board, composing commissions, and creating educational programming for our innovative arts programming. 

“One of the special things about WCCMA and the artists we present that we forge relationships with is that right here in Claremont we get access to brilliant performers across many genres – the likes of which you see appear in the great venues like Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and untold numbers of other prestigious venues around the world – and you get to meet them right here in this small intimate space. They are such lovely people and passionate performers. To see them up close is rare and thrilling for music lovers. Kinan and Dinuk are among the most impactful performers to grace this space. What makes the appearance even more special is that many people here locally have been able to have this ongoing relationship with them, whether it’s see them perform and continue to create over the last 14 year, or to work with them through WCCMA’s education programs like the Bach Tree. It is such a gift for us to have them as a part of our musical family here in Claremont” said Executive Director Melissa Richmond.

Art of the Duo: Kinan Azmeh and Dinuk Wijeratne

August 21, 2023 @ 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM at West Claremont Center for Music and the Arts @ Union Church

Back for the first time as a duo since 2019: Award-winning composers and performers Dinuk Wijeratne & Kinan Azmeh fuse elements of Arabic and South-Asian vocabulary with classical and jazz music idioms to create a new sonic world. Tickets are by donation, students free. This event will also be livestreamed. 

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Layale Chaker and Sarafand

September 2, 2023 @ 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM at West Claremont Center for Music and the Arts @Union Church

Acclaimed Violinist/Composer Layale Chaker is joined by her band Sarafand for music at the intersection of classical contemporary music, Jazz, Arabic Music, and improvisation. This concert will be presented in person and via livestream/online. Admission is by donation, students are free. Suggested sliding scale contribution $5-$50

About Layale

Deemed a “Rising Star” by BBC Music Magazine, violinist and composer Layale Chaker was raised on the verge of several musical streams since her childhood. She debuted her musical training at the National Higher Conservatory of Beirut in her native Lebanon, and later went on to pursue her studies at Conservatoire Regional de Paris and the Royal Academy of Music in London, studying under professors such as Mohamed Hashem, Carmen Scripcariu, Jeanne-Marie Conquer and Nicholas Miller. Layale’s musical world lies at the intersection of classical contemporary music, Jazz, Arabic Music, and improvisation. As a violinist and composer, she has received commissions and presented performances and projects around Europe, the Middle-East, North and South America and Asia, and has collaborated with Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Ziad Rahbani, Johnny Gandelsman, Holland Baroque, International Contemporary Ensemble, Oxford Orchestra, the New World Symphony, Babylon Orchestra, performing at the London Jazz Festival, Alderburgh Festival, Junger Kunstler Festival Bayreuth, the Lucerne Festival for Contemporary Music, Impuls’ Festival, Beethoven Festival Bonn and Avignon Festival among others, and concert halls such as The Berlin Philharmonic, Abbaye de Royaumont, Hancher Auditorium, The Stone, National Sawdust, the Banff Centre, the Royal Albert Hall and the Wigmore Hall. This season has seen her complete a year-long residency at the radio WQXR, where she premiered a new work with her chamber jazz quintet ; a recording with string quartet ETHEL, to be released in 2023 ; and a first public reading of “Ruinous Gods”, her debut opera in collaboration with Lisa Schlesinger. She is also due to premiere a new work for violin and choir at Morgenland Festival Osnabruck (Germany) with the choral ensemble Capella Amsterdam. Her debut album with her ensemble Sarafand, “Inner Rhyme”, recipient of the AFAC 2018 fund, is dedicated to the sounds, rhythms, rhymes, shapes and forms of Arabic poetry. The album was released on In a Circle Records, and listed as “Top of The World” by Songlines with a 5-star review, rated #2 on NPR 10 Best Releases, #1 for several weeks on the World Charts of iTunes and Amazon Music, and has received praises by the BBC Music Magazine, The New York Times, The Strad, Strings Magazine, Jazz World among others. A 2020-2022 Jerome Hill Fellow and winner of the Silkroad Seeds inaugural 2020 award, Layale is also recipient of the Opera America Dicovery 2022 award, a Nadia et Lili Boulanger 2019 laureate, finalist of the Rolex Mentor & Protege 2018 Prize, the recipient of the Diaphonique Franco-British Commission Prize 2019, the 2018 Arab Fund for Arts and Culture Grant, the Royal Academy of Music 2018 Guinness Award, and the winner of the Ruth Anderson 2017 Competition.

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September 12, 2023 @ 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM at WCCMA at Union Church

Join us for Melaka Belay and Ethiocolor’s ecstatic symbiosis of dance and music, of tradition and modernity for the first stop on their US tour. Admission is sliding scale donation: pay what you can: $5-60, students free. Seat is available indoors and on the lawn (bring your own chair for outdoors). Registration for this event in advance is encouraged to ensure seating and timely check in. Livestream/on demand video will be avaialble for this concert. Ethiocolor is part of Center Stage, a public diplomacy initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with funding provided by the U.S. Government, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts in cooperation with the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations. General management is provided by Lisa Booth Management, Inc. About Ethiocolor:Founded in 2009 by the charismatic Melaku Belay, who has made his Fendika Cultural Center in Addis Ababa a global gathering place, Ethiocolor draws deeply from the bardic well of Ethiopia’s diverse heritage. Their revelatory practice is an ecstatic symbiosis of dance and music, of tradition and modernity. Nourished by diverse Ethiopian music and dance traditions and cross-cultural exchange, Ethiocolor presents energetic, free-spirited sounds and movements that are at once culturally specific and internationally resonant. Ethiocolor routinely shares the stage with traditional Azmaris and jazz musicians. From this dynamic musical home, Ethiocolor also builds partnerships with international musicians such as the Ex (Dutch punk band) and Large Unit (Norwegian Jazz band). The band regularly tours abroad. Its CDs include Ethiocolor (2014), Birabiro (2016), and Dildiy (upcoming). Melaku Belay received a 2015 French Medal for the Arts, a 2020 Prince Claus Award, and is a 2022 TED Fellow. Lead singer Nardos/Wude Tesfaw is the central character in Stand Up, My Beauty!, a 2021 European film exploring music and gender in Ethiopia.  Invoking ancestral blessings and contemporary experiences, Ethiocolor reveals how Ethiopian music and dance have evolved to transcend time and space. Says Melaku: “We’re here to remind audiences everywhere of our shared human desire and capacity for peace, love, joy, and justice.” They damn near brought the house down with their exuberant, dance-filled live set at the January 2017 globalFEST in New York. – ROOTS WORLD

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