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Musicians for Harmony Sets 9/11/08 'Concert for Peace'

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Musicians For Harmony Brings Cellist from Baghdad for U.S. Premiere of Iraqi “Requiem," as Part of Seventh Annual September 11th 'Concert for Peace'

Brahms Viola Quintet, “Sounds of Syria" and World Premiere of Unique Walt Whitman Performance Piece Also Planned for Benefit Event at NYC's Merkin Hall

Musicians For Harmony's Seventh Annual 'Concert For Peace' promises to be their most eclectic and engaging to date. The highlight of the September 11th event will be the U.S. Premiere of the Iraqi Janan ("Requiem") composed by Mohammed Amin Ezzat for the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra in 2006. At the time, Edward Wong of The New York Times described that somber Baghdad event as follows:

But the mood soon darkened for a piece called “Requiem," written this year by the orchestra's conductor. A cello solo, it was slow and mournful and haunting, composed as an elegy for his country.

The hundreds of Iraqis and the handful of Western diplomats in the audience seemed hypnotized, as did the burly guards toting Kalashnikovs.

“It's just like a person who's dying," the conductor, Muhammad Amin Ezzat, 45, said after the concert, held on a recent evening at a fading social club in western Baghdad. “For quite some time he was smiling. The heart is still beating, but it's hard to breathe, hard to speak, and he's close to death."

The U.S. Premiere of Janan ("Requiem") will feature Karim Wasfi (Cello Soloist & Director of INSO), making his New York dbut, and will also showcase acclaimed string orchestra The Knights.

The U.S. Premiere of “Requiem," and the efforts made by Musicians For Harmony to bring Karim Wasfi to America for this year's September 11 Benefit concert, reinforce the underlying mission of MFH Founder Allegra Klein: to promote peace and cultural exchange through music. Her organization, founded shortly after September 11, 2001, has earned significant and growing attention for its charitable efforts in the years since. Each fall, they present a concert in New York City featuring internationally renowned classical and world music artists.

This year, Musicians For Harmony celebrates its Seventh Anniversary “Concert For Peace" with a September 11, 2008 performance at Merkin Hall. In addition to “Requiem," the program will also feature a unique Walt Whitman performance piece -- the World Premiere of two songs from the “Song of Myself" Workshop. The work is based on excerpts from Whitman's renowned poem “Song of Myself," and will feature musicians (including Colin & Eric Jacobsen) both composing and performing for the occasion, and will also incorporate actors and singers into the mix. Another highlight will be “Sounds of Syria," which will feature original compositions by the highly accomplished Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh (who has performed with the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra). Azmeh will also perform “Wedding," a World Premiere composed just for MFH, and will be joined by The Knights for this portion of the program. The 2008 'Concert For Peace' will also include a Brahms treat: the beloved String Quintet in G Major, Op. 111 with the Shanghai Quartet, and featuring Guarneri Quartet violist Michael Tree.

Musicians For Harmony Presents its 7th Annual “Concert for Peace"
Thursday, September 11, 2008 at 7:30 pm
Merkin Concert Hall, 129 W. 67th Street
New York City
212-501-3330
kaufman-center.org
Tickets: $35, $75, $125 (includes reception with artists)
student discounts available

Program:
Janan ("Requiem") (U.S. Premiere)
Composed by Mohammed Amin Ezzat for Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra in 2006 Karim Wasfi, cello & director of INSO (New York dbut) The Knights, string orchestra

Brahms, String Quintet in G Major, Op. 111
Shanghai Quartet
Michael Tree, viola

Two songs from the “Song of Myself" Workshop (World Premiere)
Text by Walt Whitman, with original compositions by:
Colin Jacobsen - violin
Eric Jacobsen - cello
Alex Sopp - flute
Kyle Sanna - guitar
With actor/singer Michael Potts, and others to be announced
Conceived and directed by Karin Coonrod

Sounds of Syria
Original songs and compositions
Kinan Azmeh - clarinet
Kyle Sanna - guitar
John Haddonfield - percussion


Wedding (World Premiere)
Composed and performed by Kinan Azmeh, clarinet, with
Kyle Sanna - guitar
John Haddonfield - percussion
The Knights - string orchestra

MFH Founder Allegra Klein:
Allegra Klein is a tireless advocate for cultural diplomacy, and combines her role as MFH founder with her training as a violinist and music teacher to practice what she preaches, whenever possible. Klein actually had the honor of performing Ezzat's “Requiem" last summer in Erbil, Iraq as a guest of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra with Karim Wasfi as soloist. The first time she played with INSO was when she traveled to Baghdad in November 2003, so the 2007 reunion was a homecoming of sorts for her.

New Artistic Directors:
Musicians For Harmony's newly appointed Artistic Directors are proud to make their mark with the Seventh Annual Concert For Peace. Violinist and composer Colin Jacobsen and his brother, cellist and conductor Eric Jacobsen, took the helm this Spring as the new co- Artistic Directors of the respected organization. Colin Jacobsen, recipient of an Avery Fisher Career Grant, first played to critical acclaim at age fourteen as soloist with the New York Philharmonic under Kurt Masur and performs frequently with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Eric Jacobsen is a founding member, together with his brother Colin, of the string quartet known as Brooklyn Rider and of The Knights. He has appeared with Rene Fleming at the opening of Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, and on Late Show with David Letterman. More details about Allegra Klein and the Jacobsen brothers.

Educational Initiatives:
Each year, performers on Musicians For Harmony's “Concerts for Peace" donate their services so that the funds raised through this event may be donated to peace-oriented charities such as Safe Horizon's September 11th Fund and Doctors Without Borders, though smaller organizations like the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra and Patch Adams' Gezundheit! Institute have also benefited.

This year, proceeds will go toward funding two of Musicians For Harmony's educational initiatives. The first, Music of the World Workshops, is an after-school program on world music instruments and their related cultures that targets middle- and upper-school students in NYC inner city schools. This initiative is made possible in part through a collaboration with the Brooklyn College Community Partnership. Additionally, in an indication of its growing stature, Musicians For Harmony was recently awarded its second grant to help fund this program from New York City's Department of Cultural Affairs, representing an increase of nearly 50% over last year's award.

Musicians For Harmony has also spearheaded a visionary educational effort this past year called The Mentorship Program. This is a landmark initiative, marking the first time that American musicians are teaching Iraqi music students via webcam. Recently referenced in The Wall Street Journal, MFH's webcam Mentorship Program is pleased to announce plans to expand this initiative to include Iraqi musicians teaching American children via webcam.


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