Mon. 15 April 2024 – 20:30
Nora Fischer

Layale Chaker Trio: Radio Afloat

From Arabic maqam to jazz, improvisation and contemporary classical

Tonight in Splendor: a unique opportunity to hear the renowned Lebanese violinist Layale Chaker and her trio in Amsterdam.

Born in Paris but raised in Lebanon from the age of 6, composer and violinist Layale Chaker was raised speaking multiple languages, both linguistically and musically. Her complex sound universe, described by NPR as “beguiling” with “bright and beautiful strands… gorgeous, wine-dark swirls,” lies at the intersection of classical contemporary music, jazz, Arabic music, and improvisation. A 2020-2022 Jerome Hill Fellow, Chaker is also recipient of the 2022 Opera America Discovery 2022 Award, among many other accolades. Several months ago, the New York Philharmonic presented the world premiere of her double concerto Dawning, alongside Kinan Azmeh, for clarinet, violin and orchestra.
Layale has appeared as a soloist, performer, improviser and composer in concerts, recitals and projects around Europe, the Middle-East, North and South America and Asia, with collaborations and commissions with Oxford Orchestra, West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Holland Baroque, Babylon Orchestra, Avignon Festival, Lucerne Festival, National Sawdust, London Jazz Festival, Wigmore Hall, and New World Symphony among others. She is also the founder and leader of the chamber jazz quintet Sarafand, of which several members will be playing tonight.

Sarafand's beautiful debut album Inner Rhyme – exploring the aesthetics of Arabic poetry – was released in 2019 and received features in the New York Times, The Strad, Songlines as Top of The World in March 2019 with a 5-star review, NPR'S #2 of 10 Best Releases of January 2019, and was #1 for weeks on the World Charts of iTunes and Amazon Music.
Sarafand is currently touring their new album: Radio Afloat. This album – once again composed by Layale – reflects her musical realm, spanning from Arabic Maqam to Jazz, free improvisation and contemporary classical, while improvisational moments weave in the individual voices, influences and experiences of the ensemble's members.

Radio Afloat, the vision of a radio lost at sea, evokes a reflection on the intertwined destinies of people and the natural world, which manifest even louder in times of collective pain; a commentary on the ebb and flow of politics of power and conflict that further the vulnerability of the land and those who tend to it.
Conceived as a suite of eight movements, it echoes “The Trace of Blue Passion”, a poem by Lebanese author Ounsi el-Hage:

“... And just as birds flock wisely
I trekked from ocean to ocean
From peak to branch
From night to night to night
Until I was hit
With the prestige of sweet madness.
After we witnessed the extent of birds' wisdom
I remind you that it is in the nature of creatures
To harm themselves.
I was a turtle on the rocks
Engraved on tree trunks and bolsters
Engraved on rings
Engraved on the ankles of mountains.
And I saw space
So I saw space
And when I saw its beauty, I fell in love with a dove who carried me.
And when she smelled, adoringly, the earth on me
She laid me down in the soil
And from the dove I raised myself...”

(translated from Arabic by Sara Elkamel)

Layale Chaker - violin
Phillip Golub - piano
John Hadfield - drums

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