IMAGINE’s Third Residency to Open with a Message of Peace

“Salaam” will feature Syrian clarinet player and composer Kinan Azmeh’s quintet “In the Element” and a heartwarming exhibit.

The IMAGINE Workshop and Concerts Series (IWCS) will launch its third residency, Salaam, with a concert on February 13 at the Selina Korban Auditorium, Byblos campus. Featured at the concert are international group the Apple Hill String Quartet and renowned Syrian clarinet player and composer Kinan Azmeh.

According to IWCS Artistic Director and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music Seba Ali, Salaam is “a manifestation of the power of music as a tool to promote peace, heal scars and connect individuals.”

“Politics divide us, and music connects us,” said Ali of the concert’s main message. “Salaam is about peacemaking and peacekeeping.”

Each of the IWCS residencies is conducted with a distinct and socially relevant theme. The first, “Reflections,” sought to promote gender equality and human rights, while the second, “Tell Your Tale,” celebrated Arab culture through the art of storytelling.

At the concert, IMAGINE’s artists-in-residence Apple Hill String Quartet will perform two musical works. The first is the Romantic Quintet by Dvorak. “The works relate to the concept of Salaam because they show the way of transforming conflicts through tension and release,” Ali said.

The second piece they are performing is Azmeh’s In the Element, a classical-style work that was strongly influenced by the war in Syria. The concert marks the Lebanon debut of In the Element. “It is really not to be missed,” Ali said.

Collaborating with the artists-in-residence will be Ali on the piano and LAU students with poetry and visuals.

“Our graduate student Roger Azr is writing poems for one of the quintets, while student Majd Khiyami will be reciting poems during the concert,” Ali said.

Other students are working on visuals that will overlay the musical performance. For In the Element, student Ali Zoghdani is creating an abstract video to correspond to the message of the piece.

In addition to the music, poetry and visual art of the evening, there will be a very special exhibit on display. As one of IMAGINE’s missions is to spread the message of peace and understanding beyond the walls of the university, Ali initiated the 1,000 Letter Project in collaboration with the US-based NGO Help Syria’s Kids. The project included an exchange of letters between children based in New York and those living in refugee camps in Lebanon. Attendees at the concert can view the letters to gain insight into what kids these days – from two vastly different worlds – really aspire for.

“We started with a very small idea for a message, and it grew into something much bigger that really touched people’s hearts,” Ali said. “It is a strong message to stop conflict and to stress the urgency of initiating peace through art.”

The IMAGINE series comprises 22 events, including concerts, art shows, panel discussions, workshops, outreach and education programs. The fourth residency will take place in March 2018.

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