Amir ElSaffar, an innovative Iraqi-American musician based in New York, plays the trumpet and santur (dulcimer) and sings jazz as well as classical and Arab music. ElSaffar studied with Hamid Al Saadi, one of the most renowned singers of Iraqi maqam which is music in traditional Arab melodic modes. In a unique approach to harmony and melody with the trumpet, ElSaffar has created new techniques to play microtones and ornaments from Arab music, especially from Iraqi maqam. ElSaffar will perform Rivers of Sound with a large ensemble of instrumentalists from Western and Middle Eastern traditions, as he explores the confluence of streams in a new language of music that transcends standard notions of composition and style.
Iraqi oud virtuoso, Omar Bashir performs in prestigious concert halls and has won numerous international awards. Omar first learned his art at the age of five from his father, an oud maestro and supreme master of the Arab maqamat scale system. Two years later the young child studied at the Baghdad Music & Ballet School and made his first solo debut at the Baghdad Conservatory at the age of nine. Eventually Bashir created his own band and went on tour throughout the region and abroad. Bashir’s music is a mix of traditional Arab styles with jazz-like improvisation. Omar Bashir performs for charity and is recognised by UNESCO as preserving an important art for world heritage.