From July 2015 onward, I worked with Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture to document the creation of a musical project called Words Adorned: Andalusian Poetry & Music. Words Adorned was a cross-cultural collaborative project that brought together The Crossing, Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble, two composers, and Arabic poetry from the Al-Andalus period called muwashshah. Al-Bustan commissioned Kareem Roustom and Kinan Abou-afach to compose two pieces of music and select muwashshahat to go with the compositions. Over a period of months the members of The Crossing learned to sing in Arabic, with a lot of coaching from Al-Bustan music director, Hanna Khoury. Al-Bustan held a few open rehearsals to see how the work was coming along.
The culminating concert took place December 5, 2015 at Bryn Mawr College’s Goodhart Hall, as part of Bryn Mawr’s performing arts series. Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble performed the music while The Crossing sang the choral arrangements of the muwashshahat. Donald Nally of The Crossing conducted. Guest soloist Dalal Abu Amneh also joined at certain sections of the concert. This video includes excerpts from four of the movements of Kinan Abou-afach’s composition, Of Nights and Solace.
The concert was fantastic, and I feel very fortunate to have shot it. Thanks to Al-Bustan for having me and to Gina Benigno and Gustavo Garcia for shooting additional cameras at the concert. Joe Hannigan of Weston Sound recorded the concert. Below are a few excerpts from the concert and one video of a rehearsal for Words Adorned.
This video is a series of clips from Kareem Roustom’s composition Embroidered Verses.
This video is from a rehearsal at Trinity Center in Philadelphia.