Hop@Home: Amir ElSaffar Living Room Concert
Live Living Room Concert

Amir ElSaffar

with members of Rivers of Sound Orchestra
April 23, 2020

This event occurred as part of the 19/20 Hop@Home season. This is an archived view.

A live, online concert fusing Arabic music and jazz.

2020/21 Hop@Home

Missed the live stream?

Watch the video

ElSaffar's transcendent fusion of Arabic music and jazz has made him a Hop favorite as well as a leading figure in contemporary music. Hear him perform with four other members of his Rivers of Sound Orchestra in this Hop exclusive, collaborating in real time from multiple locations through state-of-the-art online-performance technology. Playing Western and Middle Eastern instruments, the bandmates will collaborate on Amir's rich, improvisation-laden compositions.

Read an interview with ElSaffar offering a musician's perspective on livestreamed music-making.

ElSaffar and the orchestra were to have performed at the Hop this spring; that full, in-person performance by the 17-member ensemble has been rescheduled for 2021! 

The April 23 "living room" ensemble is:
Amir ElSaffar: trumpet, santur, voice
Dena ElSaffar: viola and joza 
Tim Moore: percussion
Ole Mathisen: tenor saxophone
Miles Okazaki: guitar

A composer, trumpeter, santur player and vocalist, ElSaffar has been described as "uniquely poised to reconcile jazz and Arabic music" (The Wire) and "one of the most promising figures in jazz today" (Chicago Tribune). A recipient of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and a 2018 US Artist Fellow, ElSaffar is an expert trumpeter with a classical background, conversant not only in the language of contemporary jazz, but has created techniques to play microtones and ornaments idiomatic to Arabic music that are not typically heard on the trumpet. Additionally, he is a purveyor of the centuries-old, now endangered, Iraqi maqam tradition, which he performs actively as a vocalist and santur player. As a composer, ElSaffar has used the subtle microtones found in Iraqi maqam  music to create an innovative approach to harmony and melody, and has received commissions to compose for large and small jazz ensembles, traditional Middle Eastern ensembles, chamber orchestras, string quartets, and contemporary music ensembles, as well as dance troupes.

ElSaffar's most recent release, Rivers of Sound: Not Two (2017, New Amsterdam Records) features his 17-piece Rivers of Sound Orchestra, consisting of musicians from an variety of musical backgrounds. The Rivers of Sound Orchestra is an expansion of ElSaffar's six-piece Two Rivers Ensemble. Active since 2006, this sextet explores the juncture between jazz and music of the Middle East. Their 2015 release Crisis (Pi Recordings) is a reflection on a region in turmoil and strife: revolution, civil war, sectarian violence; a culture's struggle for survival. 

In the News


Amir ElSaffar/Rivers of Sound/"Not Two"

July 2017: Downbeat magazine reviews Rivers of Sound's Not Two , saying that on this album, ElSaffar has "moved beyond building bridges. His music has become the river. "

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Each week, our virtual stage brings adventurous artistry into your living room. The Hop offers a varied weekly line-up of online programming including live-streamed performances, film recommendations...

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