Farida Mohammad Ali, Mohammad Gomar, Mohannad Mchallah, Amir El Saffar, Ensemble OktoEcho
For 14 years now, the FMA closing nights have been seen as moments of real climax. The 15th anniversary closing night is no different. From the old souks of Aleppo to the gardens of Babel, from the qududs halabiyya to Iraqi maqam, Magic carpet is a journey to the heart of the greatest musical traditions of the Orient, brought to us by two outstanding voices from the Arab world, those of Farida Mohammad Ali and Mohannad Mchallah, together on stage for the first time.
“The mother of all maqams,” as she was headlined in The Guardian, Farida Mohammad Ali established herself in her younger years as a pioneer in a genre that had been reserved exclusively for men, thanks to a voice of unusual strength and depth as well as unmatched accuracy in micro-intervals. The first woman to teachmaqam and to plumb its depths, she is also among its last ambassadors and survivors, alongside her husband, Mohammad Gomar. Exiled for many years in Amsterdam but tied to their country, they each devoted themselves to conveying and perpetuating this highly learned musical tradition. On the FMA stage for the third time, Farida will make her voice resonate from the other side of the Euphrates to join that of Mohannad Mchallah.
Originally from Aleppo, a city regarded for centuries as the “ear” of the Arab world for the quality and demanding nature of its audiences, Mohannad Mchallah has a passion for tarab, or musical ecstasy. With a timbre that is both powerful and warm, he performs traditional songs, such as muwashahat and qudud pieces that require unfailing technical mastery and great ease in vocal variations. Muhannad Mchallah was selected to participate in the TV Arab show Super Star 2 and has won great success. He has performed across the Middle East and the United States.
With all parts of the Arab world, especially Syria and Iraq, plunged into absurd medieval violence, the FMA again looks to great art to confront this and preserve the dream of true emancipation, echoing the grandeur of a refined culture that has provided humanity with the jewels of music and poetry that the maqams and thequdud represent.
Accompanied by Canadian and American musicians, Farida and Hamam Khairy take us on a flying carpet through their infinite breeze, ceaselessly regenerating itself, that revives, if only during a brief concert, the beating heart of Aleppo and Bagdad.