DC Welcomes New Cultural Institute for Yemen with Oct. 25th Concert

10 October, 2019

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Many of us have been shocked by the destruc­tion rained down on Yemen that has affect­ed in par­tic­u­lar the chil­dren of Yemen. The Unit­ed Nations sug­gests that Sau­di Ara­bi­a’s war in Yemen has caused one of the worst human­i­tar­i­an dis­as­ters on record. And just a few days ago, the Guardian report­ed that at least 712 reli­gious sites and 206 ancient arche­o­log­i­cal sites have been affect­ed or destroyed since the Yemen war broke out in 2015. Now, a new cul­tur­al cen­ter in the nation’s cap­i­tal announces its arrival with a con­cert designed to cel­e­brate Yemeni heritage. 

The Yemen Cul­tur­al Insti­tute for Her­itage and the Arts (YCIHA) announces its launch on Oct. 25, 2019, when it presents “Vibra­tions from Yemen: Tra­di­tion­al and New Sounds” fea­tur­ing renowned artists Ravid Kaha­lani of Yemen Blues and oud mas­ter Ahmed Al-Shai­ba. The event, host­ed at the Eaton Work­shop, will fea­ture tra­di­tion­al Yemeni beats and high­light mod­ern eclec­tic inter­pre­ta­tions of Yemeni chants and instru­ments. The evening pro­pos­es an inter­faith per­for­mance ded­i­cat­ed to peace fea­tur­ing Kaha­lani, an artist of Yemeni Jew­ish descent who blends west­ern African and funk beats, per­form­ing along­side Al-Shai­ba, a self-taught Yemen-born artist based in New York. The pro­gram aims to intro­duce dis­tinct ancient and urban Yemeni sounds to the west and is an instru­ment of musi­cal preser­va­tion of Yemen’s cul­ture, which is active­ly under threat. YCIHA is proud to present an inter­faith event com­mit­ted to peace and to shar­ing a col­lec­tive her­itage that tran­scends nation­al­i­ty or reli­gious identity.

What: Vibra­tions of Yemen: Tra­di­tion­al and New Sounds
What: Inter­faith con­cert launch­ing the Yemen Cul­tur­al Insti­tute for Her­itage and the Arts
When: Fri, Oct. 25, 2019, 7–9 pm
Where: Eaton Work­shop at the Eaton Hotel,1201 K St NW, Wash­ing­ton, DC 20005
Tick­ets: $30-$40, Tick­ets can be found here or on our web­site, info 703–982-0339
Face­book: https://www.facebook.com/events/2398189967071075/

YCIHA began with a group of activists and aca­d­e­mics con­cerned with the sta­tus of Yemen’s her­itage dur­ing wartime. Since its launch, the insti­tute clar­i­fied that its mis­sion is root­ed in peace and cul­tur­al exchange. After years of orga­niz­ing, YCIHA reg­is­tered as a non­prof­it in 2019. The event on Oct. 25th will be its first sig­nif­i­cant event in the district.

Cofound­ed by Yemen expert Sama’a El-Ham­dani, the Yemen Cul­tur­al Insti­tute is com­mit­ted to the pro­mo­tion and pro­tec­tion of Yemen’s arts, both ancient and mod­ern. The insti­tute intends to pro­vide a plat­form that will high­light diverse Yemeni artis­tic expres­sion with the mis­sion to pro­mote peace for Yemen and through­out the region. YCIHA seeks to engage care­tak­ers, schol­ars, researchers, artists, arche­ol­o­gists, diplo­mats, and jour­nal­ists in its work. It pro­motes the safe­keep­ing of Yemeni cul­tur­al relics, arche­o­log­i­cal sites, and his­tor­i­cal arti­facts and cham­pi­ons the pro­tec­tion and preser­va­tion of Yemen’s ancient arti­facts. YCIHA will also seek to doc­u­ment the his­tor­i­cal and cul­tur­al her­itage of Yemen through inno­v­a­tive tech­nolo­gies, dig­i­ti­za­tion, and tra­di­tion­al archiv­ing. Plans are afoot to spon­sor a cul­tur­al her­itage youth lead­er­ship pro­gram that iden­ti­fies, sup­ports, and con­nects promis­ing Yemeni artis­tic talents.

Ravid Kaha­lani is a com­pos­er, lyri­cist, vocal­ist, and per­cus­sion­ist who found­ed the inter­na­tion­al­ly cel­e­brat­ed ensem­ble Yemen Blues, a com­bi­na­tion of renowned musi­cians, in 2010 in Tel Aviv. From the start, Ravid cre­at­ed an orig­i­nal sound that com­bines tra­di­tion­al Yemeni chants with West African beats, funk music, and blues. Ravid comes from a Yemeni Jew­ish Fam­i­ly and has risen to quick success.

Ahmed Al-Shai­ba is a Yemeni mul­ti-instru­men­tal­ist who per­forms pri­mar­i­ly on the oud, a tra­di­tion­al Mid­dle East­ern lute. He has been based in New York since Yemen’s war. He ini­tial­ly rose to promi­nence after post­ing videos of him­self cov­er­ing mod­ern, west­ern pop songs, such as ‘Per­fect’ by Ed Sheer­an. His new music is of orig­i­nal com­po­si­tion and can be found on Spotify.

Jordan Elgrably is a Franco-American writer of Moroccan heritage whose work has appeared widely in the U.S. and Europe. He is the former cofounder and director of the Levantine Cultural Center/The Markaz (2001-2020) in Los Angeles. He founded The Markaz Review in 2020, which he edits from Montpellier. Follow Jordan on Twitter @JordanElgrably.

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