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Arab–Andalusian Music of Algeria: Nassima
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This project is funded by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, through the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.




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+ About the Performance
This program was recorded 10/12/2007 at Symphony Space.

The nuba sika presented in this concert is part of an Algerian musical tradition known as san'a that is particularly prevalent in the cities of Tlemeen and Algiers where the most accomplished musicians and connoisseurs of the genre are to be found. The term san'a translates as craftsmanship or trade which is rather different from the Western concept of music as art. In the urban milieu of old Algeria the practice of san'a was considered more of a skill than an art in which individual expression was paramount. This concept of music as craft is perhaps the reason that quite a number of compositions have been preserved but not the name of the composers. San'a now constitutes a national heritage, the legacy of generations of anonymous "artisan-musicians."

+ About the Artists

Nassima, a fervent ambassador of the Andalusian music of Algeria, is noted for the renditions of the san'a tradition and her role in preserving this ancient genre, which traditionally was associated with males. She was born in 1959 in Blida, a small town near Algiers at the foot of the Chrea Mountains in Algeria. At the age of 7, she was enrolled in the municipal conservatory where she studied instrumental technique and voice under the brilliant Dahmane Beachour, and the violin under his associate. Hadj Medjbeur. She was later admitted to the prestigious El Widadia Music Association. Her career took off in 1979 when she was asked to record an anthology of Arab-Andalusian music from Algerian Television and Radio. Since 1984, Nassima has performed around the world. Highlights of her career include performences of the complete Nuba Zidane, accompanied by the Algiers Symphony Orchestra; and appearances at the Theatre de la Villa, UNESCO in Paris, and the World Sacred Music Festival of Fes in Morocco. While she excels in the art of nuba (suites of vocal and instrumental pieces), she also promotes the tradition of M'samaate (female ensemble of Algiers region), and the works of Sufi mystics. She has recorded numerous albums including Andalusian Music of Algiers, and Sufi Spirit, Spirit of Love. Nassima has been living in Paris since 1994.

Amel Tafsout (meaning ‘Hope of Spring') has performed, lecture, and conducted research throughout the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the US. Brought up in Algeria , Tafsout was fascinated by dance since childhood. Much of her research has focused on ritual dances of the Maghreb and the Middle East (reflecting the dual Berber-Arab identity of Algeria). She has performed at many festivals and prestigious venues, including WOMAD, Queen Elizabeth Hall, and Central Park SummerStage.

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