NYU Abu Dhabi Arts Center - Performances in April/May 2016

This month sees the last few performances at the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Center. It's a packed schedule that goes into the first week of May and includes a range of music including funk, jazz, classical and Iraqi maqam.

Each performance is free to attend, so if you're in Abu Dhabi, make time to attend one or two performances. Here's the line up (click on each title for more information).

Pee Wee Ellis & Fred Wesley | Funk: Evolution of a Revolution (World Premiere)

When: 16th April at 8.00pm

Where: East Plaza, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi

An explosive multi-media show that tells the story of the evolution of music that changed the world, led by two of its most important architects.

Masterminded by Pee Wee Ellis and Fred Wesley, two of the great creative powerhouses of Funk, this explosive multi-media performance tells the story of how Funk has impacted music and culture in its 50 years of life.

Ellis and Wesley are cornerstones of the genre (Pee Wee as one its creators with James Brown himself in the late 1960s, and Fred carrying the torch on through the era of Bootsy Collins and George Clinton) and represent some of the deepest roots of the Funk Family Tree.

FUNK: Evolution of a Revolution brings together a world-class group of musicians to chart the path of the music from its birth in 1965 to the present and into the future, from jazz to hip hop, New York to New Orleans, London to Lagos, Benin to Brazil and beyond.

Meredith Monk and Vocal Ensemble

When: 24th and 25th April at 8.00pm | 26th April at 10.00am (family matinee)

Where: Black Box, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi

Meredith Monk’s visionary fusion of sound and movement is as daring now as it was when she debuted five decades ago.

Her influence on musicians both in and beyond the world of classical composition can be felt in the work of artists as varied as pop icon Björk, jazz experimentalist John Zorn, and innovative electronic composer DJ Spooky.

This historic concert will include selections from several of Monk’s most recent works — On Behalf of Nature, impermanence, and mercy — alongside classics from earlier decades, offering an expansive view of Monk’s 50 years of making music.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of her first performances in New York City, this concert focuses on her unique contribution to vocal music. It traces the evolution from the pioneering solo works she created for her own performance, to some of her landmark creations for the Vocal Ensemble she founded in 1978, and ultimately to excerpts from several of her elaborate large-scale music theater works for multiple voices and instruments. 

Aizuri Quartet - Beethoven and Beyond

When: 26th April at 8.00pm

Where: The Arts Center Lobby at NYU Abu Dhabi 

Beethoven and Beyond: Beethoven’s amazing String Quartet No. 13, Opus 130 and his forward looking Grande Fugue paired with works by NYUAD composers.

The Aizuri are rising stars in the classical music scene. Amazing players individually, they are impressive collectively as well. As the graduate string Quartet in Residence at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, they are just the second group to hold this prestigious position.

Joey Alexander Trio

When: 27th April at 8.00pm

Where: Black Box, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi

Since Joey Alexander first encountered the piano at the age of six, his musical intuition has flourished alongside a love of jazz. His talent has taken the world by storm, stunning audiences from New York City to Copenhagen.

Last year, at the age of 12, Joey released his debut album ‘My Favourite Things’ to great acclaim. The Indonesian jazz prodigy has become one of the youngest musicians ever to be nominated for a Grammy award; and not in one, but two categories– ‘Best Improvised Jazz Solo’ and ‘Best Jazz Instrumental Album’.

Join the Joey Alexander Trio for a soulful and joyful musical adventure and witness the magic of this budding young leader, performer and composer as he presents an evening of beloved jazz standards and original compositions.

Alfredo Rodriguez Trio

When: 28th April at 8.00pm

Where: Black Box, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi

Grammy nominated artist, Alfredo Rodríguez reflects the talents of legendary jazz pianists Keith Jarrett and Thelonious Monk. Schooled in the classical conservatories of Havana, Rodríguez’s artistry is informed as much by Bach and Stravinsky as it is by his Cuban and jazz roots.

Discovered at the 2006 Montreux Jazz Festival by Quincy Jones, Rodríguez has distinguished himself as the definition of jazz and improvisation without boundaries. 

Amir ElSaffar | Rivers of Sound Large Ensemble

When: 30th April at 8.00pm

Where: East Plaza, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi

The Rivers of Sound Large Ensemble is deeply rooted in musical forms of Iraq and nearby regions but still speaks the language of swing, improvisation and group interaction, resulting in a sound distinct from other contemporary cross-cultural musical fusions.

The group embraces a broad spectrum of traditions, from Iraqi maqam to American jazz, on a range of instruments including the Middle Eastern oud, buzuq, santur (hammered dulcimer), jowza (spike fiddle), and percussion, arrayed with the piano, bass and drums of jazz, along with trumpet, saxophones, oboe, strings, and voice. Rivers of Sound combines the modal language of the maqam with the aesthetics of contemporary music and jazz to create a new musical vocabulary.

Amir ElSaffar | Alwan Ensemble / Ashwaaq Ensemble

When: 3rd Mat at 8.00pm

Where: Black Box, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi

Amir ElSaffar's Alwan Ensemble delivers a lively and transporting performance of well-loved folk, popular, and art music of the Arab world, highlighting styles and repertoire from Iraq, Palestine, Syria and Egypt. Built around mesmerizing textures of rhythmic and improvisational intensity, the music is based on the maqam modal system, with great emphasis on poetry and highly intricate, interwoven melodies sung by a soloist or chorus, accompanied by the rich bed of sound created by the combination of Middle Eastern instruments.

The Alwan Ensemble’s performance evokes ambiances of Cairo, Baghdad, al-Quds and Aleppo – each cities with great legacies in art and culture, and characteristic and distinct musical repertories – while reflecting the richness and cultural vibrancy of contemporary New York.