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Johnny Farraj


The Magic Of Your Eyes: Rima Khcheich Pays Tribute to Sabah

[Cover of Rima Khcheich,

­­After Warda’s sad passing in May, fans of traditional Arabic music were left counting the few precious giants that remain from the era where Arabic music flourished—around the middle of the previous century. Fortunately, on the Lebanese front, Fairouz and Wadih Al-Safi are still performing, and so is another icon whose songs are experiencing a revival: the legendary Sabah. Born Jeanette Feghali in 1928 in the mountain village of Wadi Shahrour (earning her the ...

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The Awan Quartet: Forging New Ground in Palestine

[The Awan Quartet. Image via Facebook.]

Every two years, the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Palestine organizes a nationwide music competition covering many musical categories and age groups. This is the only competition of its kind at the “national” level, and has been attracting new talent and motivating music students since 1999. This year’s competition was held in March 2012 at the conservatory’s campuses in Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Gaza (linked via video conferencing). A recently formed ...

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Sonia M'Barek: A Musical Innovator Rooted in Tradition

[Sonia M'Barek performing in New York. Photo by Fouad Salloum.]

Sonia M’Barek, Proshansky Auditorium, City University of New York Graduate Center, New York, NY, 23 March 2012. In traditional Arabic music, a vocalist is not just referred to as a singer, but is instead spoken of as a mutrib/mutribah. Literally translated, they are the people who bring tarab, or musical ecstasy. As such, the craft of a traditional Arabic vocalist is a demanding one. The singer must possess a pleasing voice, have clear diction, and sing impeccably in tune, ...

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Johnny Farraj


Johnny Farraj is a musician based in New York. He has performed with Simon Shaheen/Qantrara and Amir ElSaffar, and has performed and lectured at universities and museums throughout the US and Canada. He is also the creator of the resource on classical Arab music theory (maqam),