Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture is an organization in West Philadelphia that is dedicated to educating people about Arab culture through the arts and language. Al-Bustan holds a variety of educational and cultural events throughout the year, including a summer camp for kids. After receiving a grant from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, Al-Bustan is presenting a multimedia project called “Words Adorned: Andalusian Poetry and Music.” The project will include several events that culminate in a concert on December 5. The concert will premiere two compositions by Kareem Roustom and Kinan Abu-afach that were inspired by muwashshahat, poetry written in Andalusia during the period of Arab rule (711-1492). Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble will perform the new compositions accompanied by The Crossing, a choir based in Philadelphia, and Palestinian guest vocalist Dalal Abu Amneh.
The events leading up to the concert are aimed at creating a cultural context to make the music and poetry more accessible to Western audiences. The concert will be one of many events in Bryn Mawr College’s Performing Arts Series at Goodhart Hall. It has been a great experience for me to work with Al-Bustan to help document the process of creating “Words Adorned.” I’ve learned a lot about the differences between Western and Arab music, muwashshahat, and the time period of Al Andalus. Below are the videos that help introduce “Words Adorned” and educate audiences about some of the aforementioned things that I’ve learned about. I’ll be posting more videos as they are completed.
Al Andalus and Muwashshahat Video
More to come, as I finish editing the videos.