Marcel Khalife | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Marcel Khalife 

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Each of the three recordings I've heard by Lebanese composer and oud player Marcel Khalife contains an odd amalgam of musical styles that include traditional Arabic sounds, thick strains of the Western classical tradition, pop melodies in the Tin Pan Alley mold, and the sprightly bounce of classic Hollywood film scores. Extremely popular among Palestinians throughout the Middle East, Khalife found his voice during Lebanon's civil war in the 70s, gaining notoriety while performing in abandoned Beirut concert halls amid carnage and confusion. Recent recordings like Summer Night's Dream and Arabic Coffeepot (both available on the Lebanese Nagam label) capture his unusual fusion and provide a rare glimpse at popular Middle Eastern music. He's currently touring the U.S. with a stripped-down group. Joining him is Charbel Rouhana, also on oud, Aboud El Saadi on electric bass, and Ali El-Khatib on riq (Arabic tambourine). The quartet performs a new Khalife work, "Jadal: A Composition for Two Ouds," which pays tribute to poet Khalil Gibran. Sunday, 7:30 PM, Curie High School, 4959 S. Archer; 436-6060.

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