NHSO to Play World Premiere of Amir ElSaffar’s “Suite on the Green” June 17

Tuesday • June 12, 2018

Trumpeter, composer, and vocalist Amir ElSaffar has been working at the intersections jazz, classical, and Middle Eastern music for two decades, and has forged a unique approach to combining the instrumentation and musical languages of these traditions in innovative ways.

Suite on the Green, a new work that will have its world premiere on June 17 at the New Haven Green as part of the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, will be performed by 27 musicians, combining ElSaffar’s members of Rivers of Sound Orchestra and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. The work features microtonal maqam modes of the Middle East woven through a complex matrix of harmonies, sonorities, and orchestrations.

“Initially, the idea was to perform new arrangements of existing works,” ElSaffar explains, “but as I began to put notes on paper, I discovered that I was hearing new sounds, and the older material didn’t make sense. It was clear to me that a new piece had to be composed for this occasion.” ElSaffar was inspired by looking at photos and reading the history of the Green. “This is a highly charged place, and the music needs to be reflective of that energy, while being respectful of its history. Further, the combination of sonorities that are available when combining Arabic and jazz instrumentation with chamber orchestra are limitless.

This is an unchartered territory, and I intend to explore the sonic possibilities to the max.”

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