As members of The Crossing learn the diction and nuances of the Arabic language, we prepared audio files for them to hear the rhythmic diction — as you can sample in this audio clip by Al-Bustan Music Director Hanna Khoury, recorded by Kinan Abou-afach, of one of the poems by Andalusian poet Sahl Ibn Malik:

The Crossing in Rehearsal with Hanna Khoury & Hafez Kotain
The Crossing in Rehearsal


We asked members of the The Crossing to share their initial reflections as they delved the first couple weeks of August into Words Adorned and the new works, Of Nights and Solace by Kinan Abou-afach and Embroidered Verses by Kareem Roustom.

I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of this very important project. The music is gorgeous, and the words…when I listened to the recording of the poetry being spoken, I had to put it on repeat because I fell quickly in love with the way the words sounded. I had no idea how beautiful the Arabic language was! I didn’t even need a literal translation to understand the deeper meaning of the poetry because the words themselves are so expressive.

… I was a little nervous about delving into a language I have no experience with, but I love the texts…and the music compliments it all very well. It’s a real pleasure to be working on a project that allows the performers and audience members insight into music that is not heard very often in this area.

I am excited to learn more about this culture beyond that which we hear daily on the news. I think about my own parents who have such negative opinions of the Arab world. Exploring a culture’s art helps to remind us all of our common humanity. I hope that my parents can come to this performance and that it might change their perceptions.

Photos by Chip Colson:

Watch short clips from rehearsals: