These performances are presented as part of AFI’s Revolutions & Movements festival.
A self-improvised recitation of poetry consisting of some 100 melodies, the Maqam is the urban classical vocal tradition of Iraq. More than any other art form or cultural offering, it represents Iraq in all of its complexity. It is a repository of Iraq’s rich history, included on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Instability in Iraq has placed this centuries-old musical tradition in danger of extinction.
Amir ElSaffar, a renown Iraqi-American composer, trumpeter, santur player, and vocalist who fuses jazz and Arabic music, will perform Iraqi Maqam fused with brilliant jazz in this rare Washington D.C. performance in Washington D.C.
Mai Khoi & the Dissidents:
Featured in the New York Times, BBC, and the Guardian, Mai Khoi is a Vietnamese singer, songwriter and activist who has been compared to Pussy Riot and described as the ‘Lady Gaga of Vietnam.’ Recently detained in Vietnam following her European tour, frequently raided by Vietnamese police at her studio and concerts, and effectively banned from performing in Vietnam, Mai Khoi is a powerhouse performer and a fiercely unapologetic advocate for free expression.
Iranian Female Composers Association:
Opening for ElSaffar and Mai Khoi & the Dissidents, the Iranian Female Composers Association (IFCA) has composed a series of contemporary classical pieces inspired by Revolutions & Movements. Performed by an ensemble, these original compositions include the world premiere of a piece by composer Rojin Sharafi. IFCA is revolutionary in its mission to create space for growth and empowerment for all Iranian female-identifying composers, bringing to light artistic stories that would not have otherwise had the chance to shine.
Photography by Nosrat Tarighi