Al-Bustan presents a multimedia project inspired by Andalusian poetry with a series of events and newly commissioned works bridging the traditions of East and West.

Words Adorned: Andalusian Poetry and Music will premiere two new compositions by composers Kareem Roustom and Kinan Abou-afach, who take inspiration from the Andalusian poetry form known as muwashshahat and explore new avenues of musical language and expression. Their compositions of 20-minute musical suites for takht ensemble, chamber choir, and soloist, will be presented on December 5, 2015 featuring Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble with The Crossing, a Philadelphia-based award-winning Western choir, and solo vocalist Dalal Abu Amneh. The repertoire will also feature popular muwashshahat from the Levant and North Africa (by composers Rahbani Brothers from Lebanon and Taher Guizani from Tunisia). The concert will be presented as part of Bryn Mawr College’s Performing Arts Series in Goodhart Hall at Bryn Mawr College.

A series of events in Fall 2015 leading up to the concert will include five related scholarly talks, poetry readings, and music demonstrations held at Bryn Mawr, University of Pennsylvania, and Trinity Center for Urban Life.

The Words Adorned website presents an analysis of the cultural and historical context of Andalusian poetry, highlighting the process of composing, rehearsing, and performing through videos, podcasts, photos, and print documentation. A CD with in-studio recording of the commissioned compositions will be produced in December 2015, with printed booklet and accompanying music scores, lyrics, translations, and transliterations available for choir/music directors, educators and students.

The Al-Bustan team who has developed this project includes Founder/Executive Director Hazami Sayed, Music Director Hanna Khoury, Project Manager Ahmad Almallah, Marketing Director Morgan Gengo, Publicist Cindy Byram, Digital Designer Ayman Alalao, and Program Assistant Eman Haj. Ashley Choukeir and Hanane Kai created the graphic identity and designs, Dave Tavani created the series of videos documenting the process, Jasmine Erdener created the podcasts, and Joe Hannigan provided sound and audio recordings.

This project is made possible by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture and William Penn Foundation.