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Music Haven's Annual Summer Social
Central Park, Schenectady NY
Schenectady, NY
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Hope you had a musically memorable evening! Thanks again for supporting Music Haven!


Music Haven's Annual Summer Social
This popular event includes: hors d'oeuvres, cocktails, a grand carving station and catered stations reflecting locales of the current summer's lineup of artists under the Park's Pavilion from 5-7 pm, reserved seating for the concert - featuring the Western jazz meets Middle Eastern maqam of Amir ElSaffar & Two Rivers Ensemble - at 7 pm, followed by a backstage meet & greet reception.

Individual tickets cost $75 each; Honorary Committee tickets and Corporate Honorary Committee tickets cost $125 and $500, respectively, and include name listing in the playbill insert, if received by August 2. ALL proceeds benefit the presentation of free world-class concerts at the Agnes Macdonald Music Haven each summer.

The rain site for the event is also the series official rain site: Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady.

The 2017 "Music Haven Maven" honoree is Michael Hochanadel, a public affairs professional who for 44 years has also written exceptional music previews and reviews for The Daily Gazette, prompting the adventurous engagement of new generations of listeners.

The Agnes S. Macdonald Music Haven is Schenectady, New York's premier outdoor summer concert venue, which has played host to hundreds of free concerts by world-class national and international touring artists since 1990, thanks to the efforts of volunteer producing artistic director, Mona Golub, the extreme generosity of sponsors, supporters, and community partners alike, and the enthusiasm of Music Haven audiences that come prepared to 'travel the world one concert at a time'.


Amir ElSaffar - trumpet, santur, vocals
Ole Mathisen - tenor saxophone
Carlo DeRosa - bass
Zafer Tawil - oud
Tareq Abboushi - buzuq
Nasheet Waits - drums

The Two Rivers Ensemble is a sextet of jazz and Middle Eastern musicians that has made innovative strides in using the maqam modal system to transform the jazz idiom. Deeply rooted in musical forms of Iraq and the Middle East, the music still speaks the language of swing, improvisation and group interaction, and the resultant sound is distinct from other contemporary cross-cultural musical fusions. After over a decade of extensive performing and touring and the release of three critically- acclaimed albums, the Two Rivers Ensemble has developed an instinctive ease with ElSaffars innovative music, playing with a creativity in a style that is rooted in tradition, while venturing into an entirely novel aesthetic.

Tonight's program consists of Amir ElSaffars composition entitled Crisis, commissioned by Newport Jazz Festival in 2013, which Downbeat Magazine called certainly the first Middle Eastern-imbued jazz combo at Newport to win a standing ovation for its first song. The music was composed after Amir ElSaffar spent a year living in Egypt, where he witnessed the Arab Spring protests first-hand, and Lebanon, where he worked with Syrian musicians who were living through that countrys harrowing civil war. The suite follows a narrative arc and is an emotional reaction to the recent tragic history of Iraq and the Middle East. Often based on the melodic modes of the maqam and folkloric rhythms, the music is full of emotion and heart, passionate and ecstatic.

ElSaffar has found a beautiful and singular way of pairing the sibling spirits of jazz and the classical maqam system of the Arab world, with their shared spheres of improvisation, deep knowledge of tradition and urge to keep innovating.  Anastasia Tsioulcas on the Two Rivers Ensemble, NPR Music

ElSaffar's virtuoso trumpet playing is firmly rooted in the jazz tradition, yet at the same time hes capable of playing a taqsim (melodic improvisation) in an authentic Arab style, with a sound that is reminiscent of the nay (reed flute) along with the melisma and ornamentation of maqam singing. He has a unique approach to playing microtonally: using a standard, three-valve trumpet, ElSaffar has created new techniques that enable intonation that are characteristic to Arabic music. His sound is rich with overtones and burred texture: in one moment, bright and pushing to the sonic edge of the instrument and at another, a hushed whisper. His idiomatic maqam vocals sound at once prayer-like and an appeal for compassion, and his santur is full of tremolos and a long echo that is evocative of an ancient past.

About the Artists:

A 2013 winner of the prestigious Doris Duke Performing Artist Award ElSaffar continues to grow as an artist. He has worked extensively in Europe over the past years, collaborating with diverse musicians such as the Belgian group Aka Moon, Swedish composer C.C. Hennix, and a Berlin-based microtonal brass quintet. Fondation Royaumont in France commissioned ElSaffar for a piece for string quartet plus voice and santur, which premiered at the Festival dAvignon, one of the worlds largest theater festivals, and Festival dAix, an opera festival. They have since commissioned him for three more works that will be performed at festivals throughout France over the next years. In April, 2015 ElSaffar assembled an unprecedented ensemble of 17 musicians to realize a new work, Rivers of Sound that made its premiere at Lincoln Center in New York City and will release its double-lp, Not Two, on May 28, 2017.

Two Rivers includes Nasheet Waits, one of the most dynamic drummers in jazz who is best known as a mainstay in Jason Morans Bandwagon; bassist Carlo DeRosa, whose CD Brain Dance achieved considerable acclaim; Tareq Abboushi on buzuq (long-necked lute) whose CD, Mumtastic, contains his own blend of jazz and Arabic forms; multi-instrumentalist and virtuoso Zafer Tawil, who is one of the most in-demand Arab musician in New York; and tenor saxophonist Ole Mathisen, a master of microtonal playing who contributes beautifully controlled and technically dazzling playing, serving as the perfect foil to ElSaffar on the front line.

The band navigates ElSaffars still-fresh fusion of jazz and maqam with such masterful technical power and vivid lyrical imagination that you almost immediately forget to be engrossed by the novelty of the sound.  Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader


The highest ideal in maqam music is to reach a state of tarab, or musical ecstasy, which results from the melting away of borders between a notion of self and other, as performers and audience revel together in the music. As pitches and rhythms become fluid, so do cultural boundaries: elements that traditionally divide musicians and genre-specific modes are re-contextualized in a fresh transcultural soundscape.


Central Park, Schenectady NY (View)
500 Iroquois Way
Schenectady, NY 12309
United States


Music > Jazz

Kid Friendly: Yes!
Dog Friendly: Yes!
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


Owner: Music Haven
On BPT Since: May 19, 2014
Music Haven's Annual Summer Social


Paul R.
Monterey, NY United States
Aug 05, 2017 8:30 AM
Charise I.
Monterey, NY United States
Aug 05, 2017 8:30 AM
Maryanne M.
Schenectady , NY United States
Aug 02, 2017 9:40 AM
Tony O.
Schenectady, NY United States
Aug 01, 2017 5:08 AM
Scott C.
Schenectady, NY United States
Jul 31, 2017 4:59 AM

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