Distinguished Iraqi composer and musician to perform at UT

October 6, 2009 | Events, UToday
By Staff

Rahim Alhaj, virtuoso oud player and renowned composer, will give a solo performance for the Ninth Annual Maryse and Ramzy Mikhail Memorial Lecture Sunday, Oct. 11, at 3 p.m. in the UT Center for Performing Arts Recital Hall on Main Campus.



Alhaj was born in Baghdad, where at age 9 he began playing the oud, a pear-shaped stringed instrument synonymous with Middle Eastern music and commonly thought to be the predecessor of the lute. He studied at the Institute of Music in Baghdad and graduated with a diploma in composition. He also holds a degree in Arabic literature from the Mustunsariya University in Baghdad.

After the first Gulf War, Alhaj was forced to leave Iraq in 1991 due to his activism against Saddam Hussein and his regime. He lived in Jordan and Syria until 2000, when as a political activist he moved to the United States to live in Albuquerque, N.M.

Alhaj has performed hundreds of concerts around the world as a soloist as well as with his string quartet. His CD releases have received critical acclaim and extensive coverage in the media. His latest disc, Home Again, features original compositions about his trip to Iraq after 13 years of exile. And When the Soul Is Settled: Music of Iraq received a 2008 Grammy Award nomination in the best traditional world music recording category.

It has been said that Alhaj’s compositions establish new concepts without altering the foundations of traditional Iraqi music and evoke the experience of exile from his homeland and of new beginnings in his adopted country. Hear his music at www.rahimalhaj.com.

The Maryse and Ramzy Mikhail Lecture series at The University of Toledo is an annual event made possible through the Maryse and Ramzy Mikhail Endowment Fund, which was established in 2000 by the Mikhail family.

“The purpose of the Mikhail Fund is to support an annual lecture dealing with Arab culture, literature, history, politics, economics or other broadly defined aspects of life in the Middle East,” said Dr. Samir Abu-Absi, UT professor emeritus of English and chair of the Mikhail Memorial Lecture Committee. “The lecture committee is excited about this year’s program, as it brings in a dimension that has not been addressed in previous lectures in the series.”

The lecture is co-sponsored by the UT College of Arts and Sciences and the UT Department of Music; WGTE is a media sponsor.

For more information on the free, public lecture, contact Abu-Absi at samir.abu-absi@utoledo.edu.

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