Bridging the Past and Present with Music
by Saousan Jarjour
Saousan is featured in Arab Folk Song Recital on Saturday, October 3, at 2pm.
Singing folk songs in Syria was a bridge that connected the past with the present, the young with the old, and all were welcomed to join in the circle and sing along. The same songs were always sung, played in the car, bus, or circle of chairs out in the farm or village under the starry sky. There were always two instruments that could be heard on these occasions, the tabla (drum) and the brave voices of those who wanted to relive the past.
The essence of these songs lives in our memories of singing with our grandparents, the sound of our cousins playing guitar, and trips with friends to the mountains. The songs are of old Damascus where the beautiful jasmine flowers grow and the narrow streets are filled with lovers who meet in secret. Some songs are from Aleppo, where the ancient Citadel still stands and people tell the stories of the great poets who wrote of glory, love, peace, and war.
The songs of Fairuz are also dear to the people of the Middle East. What would a morning be if one did not wake up to sip some Turkish coffee and hear Fairuz playing on the radio, serenading the sleepy eyes and calming the soul. In the taxies and buses, offices and schools, Fairuz seemed to be a remedy that was everywhere and that everyone found helpful, reachable, and loving.
In putting together this program, one of the goals was to connect the past with the present, and to bridge the gap between cultures. Although jazz and Arabic music are from different parts of the world, the mixture of the two felt very natural. The spirit of improvisation lives in both styles and this fusion became quite rewarding to explore.
Saousan Jarjour, an award–winning soprano of Syrian heritage, brings her unique take on Arabic folk songs and classics in a one-day-only recital as part of the ReOrient 2015 Festival. Some Golden Thread fans may remember Saousan from this year’s International Women’s Day celebration, “What Do the Women Say?”