Amir ElSaffar at the Hop
Live Arts

Amir ElSaffar

and Rivers of Sound Orchestra
April 21 Ticket Info

ElSaffar and his 17-piece ensemble find ecstatic common ground among the scales, grooves and instruments of Arabic music and jazz.

19/20 Hop Presents

An American teen prodigy in both jazz and classical trumpet, ElSaffar spent his early 20s in his ancestral home of Iraq, immersing himself in Arabic musical traditions. In Rivers of Sound, western brass, strings and percussion meet Arabic ouds, violin and drums. After giving Hop audiences a taste of his music as the composer and lead instrumentalist of Ragamala Dance Company's Written in Water in fall 2018, ElSaffar takes center stage with his own compelling vision.

Deeply rooted in the musical traditions of Iraq, this ensemble honors those origins while speaking the language of swing and improvisation. Distinct from other contemporary musical fusions, ElSaffar's group incorporates microtones rarely heard on the trumpet, as well as innovative strides in the maqam modal system performed on the santur (hammered dulcimer), which ElSaffar learned to play during his sojourn in Iraq.

“Gorgeous, invigorating and accessible.”

NPR Music

“The band navigates ElSaffar’s 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.”

Chicago Reader
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