Amir ElSaffar’s Ahwaal featuring Ksawery Wójciński, Waclaw Zimpel, Lutosławski Quartet

SATURDAY, September 28, 11:00pm-midnight

Rockefeller Chapel

Photo credit: Amir ElSaffar by Michael Crommett, Lutosławski Quartet by Lukasz Rajchert, Waclaw Zimpel by Laila Cohen.

Photo credit: Amir ElSaffar by Michael Crommett, Lutosławski Quartet by Lukasz Rajchert, Waclaw Zimpel by Laila Cohen.

Amir ElSaffar presents the Chicago premiere of Ahwaal, a program mixing different musical worlds and blurring intercultural borders.

Ahwaal, for string quartet, bass, clarinet, trumpet, santur, and voice, was commissioned by the Jazztopad Festival in Wroclaw, Poland, where the piece received its world premiere in November, 2018. Ahwaal, meaning "states of consciousness," is an important concept in Sufism, describing a human being's spiritual progression toward the divine. The states are said to arise and vanish quickly, as flashes of lightening. The various Ahwaal include joy/fear, ecstasy, intoxication, intimacy, eventually ending in the transcendence of ego-self. Intended as a reflection on these and other Ahwaal, the composition is meditative with repeating rhythmic cycles and a slow development. Each section is a kind of immersion. The music consists of composed and improvised elements, and drawing on the microtonal resonances of Maqam, with a subtle nod to the late quartets of Beethoven.

Composer, trumpeter, santur player, and vocalist AMIR ELSAFFAR has been described as “uniquely poised to reconcile jazz and Arabic music” (The Wire) and “one of the most promising figures in jazz today” (Chicago Tribune). A recipient of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award and a 2018 U.S. Artist Fellow, ElSaffar is an expert trumpeter with a classical background, conversant in the language of contemporary jazz, but also interested in creating techniques to play microtones and ornaments that are idiomatic to Arabic music and not typically heard on the trumpet. Additionally, he is a purveyor of the centuries-old, now-endangered Iraqi maqam tradition, which he performs actively as a vocalist and santur player. An important voice in an age of cross-cultural music making, in his compositions ElSaffar has used the subtle microtones found in maqam music to create an innovative approach to harmony and melody, and has received commissions to compose for large and small jazz ensembles, traditional Middle Eastern ensembles, chamber orchestras, string quartets, contemporary music ensembles, and dance troupes. He has received commissions from the MAP Fund, Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC), Newport Jazz Festival, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Chamber Music America, and Jazz Institute of Chicago, and is currently composer-in-residence at the Royaumont Foundation in France.

One of the most sought-after jazz double bassists in Poland, KSAWERY WOJCINSKI activates his gift of lightness, easiness, and musical erudition to switch between different guises and stylistics—from jazz in its more accessible form, through avant-garde, to Polish folk music. Thanks to his regular concerts at the club Pardon, To Tu in Warsaw, where he performed with bands such as Hera and Charles Gayle Trio, in a duo with trumpeter Wojciech Jachna, and solo, Wojciński has become one of the most recognizable jazz musicians in Poland. In 2014, he released his solo album, The Soul, on which he not only played the double bass, piano, and guitar, but also provided vocals. Wójciński has collaborated with Uri Caine (in a trio with Robert Rasz), Charles Gayle (one of the most important personalities in jazz avant-garde in New York), Michael Zerang, Nicole Mitchell, and Marco Eneidi. He was a member of Ad Libitum Ensemble, an improvising orchestra created to play during the Warsaw Improvisation Music Festival Ad Libitum and led by the Spanish pianist Agustí Fernández. He has also performed and recorded with Polish artists including Mikolaj Trzaska, Raphael Roginski, Waclav Zimpel, and the bands Emergency and Hera. Together with the singer Maniucha Bikont, he forms a duo Maniucha i Ksawery and performs traditional music. He also currently performs with the Wójciński/Szmańda Quartet.

Quite simply, WACLAW ZIMPEL is one of the most unique talents to have emerged from Poland this side of the millennium. A multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer, Zimpel is as inspired by jazz as he is by electronics, minimalism, and roots music from across the world, and doesn’t so much blur boundaries as eradicate them altogether to create a whole new musical language. His Saagara project has seen him successfully bring together the seemingly disparate disciplines of western jazz and Indian raga music across two albums, and his work with improvisational trio LAM aims to bridge the gap between minimalism and trance music. A naturally curious musician who refuses to be boxed in, Zimpel has applied the endless possibilities of electronics and loops to his oeuvre and, as displayed by his growing catalogue of music, is signposting the way for future generations. Zimpel has worked closely with contemporary/free jazz players Ken Vandermark, Hamid Drake, Joe McPhee, famed composer, clarinetist and Grammy award winner Evan Ziporyn, techno producer Rabih Beaini, drum legend Trilok Gurtu, and the master of gnawa music Maallem Mokhtar Gania. Awarded the prestigious City of Poznań Artist Prize, he has also been nominated for the Paszort Polityki, the most important cultural award in Poland.

The LUTOSŁAWSKI QUARTET, whose name refers to the great composer of the 20th century, Witold Lutosławski, was created in 2007 and is currently one of the leading string quartets in Poland. They have performed at such prestigious festivals as Warsaw Autumn, Wratislavia Cantans, Klarafestival in Brussels, Ankara Music Festival in Turkey, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Tongyeong International Music Festival in South Korea, World Music Days, and Jazztopad. They have also appeared in renowned venues such as Kioi Hall in Tokyo, YST Conservatory of Music in Singapore, Hangzhou Theatre, Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, Megaron in Athens, Konzerthaus in Berlin, Bozar in Brussels, SESC halls in São Paulo, Warsaw Philharmonic, and the Witold Lutoslawski Studio in Warsaw. The ensemble has often performed with outstanding artists such as Garrick Ohlsson, Piotr Anderszewski, Kevin Kenner, Bruno Canino, Michel Lethiec, Tomoko Akasaka, Eugen Indjic, Ryszard Groblewski, Andrzej Bauer, and excellent jazzmen Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, Uri Caine, Benoît Delbecq, Vijay Iyer, and Charles Lloyd. The quartet's musicians have also collaborated with IRCAM in Paris, recorded for Naxos, DUX, and CD Accord, and been active as a resident ensemble of the National Forum of Music in Wrocław.

Violinist BARTOSZ WOROCH is a prize winner at major international competitions such as Pablo Sarasate in Spain and Michael Hill in New Zealand. As a soloist, Woroch has appeared with orchestras across the world, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonic, Bern Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony, and Polish Radio Orchestras, with conductors such as Michael Tilson Thomas, Libor Pešek, Łukasz Borowicz, and Henk Guittart. Woroch is currently a violin professor and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Concertmaster of the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic and Artistic Director of the International Festival of Chamber Music Ensemble, MARCIN MARKOWICZ has performed throughout Europe, the U.S., China, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Brazil, appearing at such venues as Konzerthaus (Berlin), Bozar (Brussels), Kioi Hall (Tokio), Forbidden City Concert Hall (Beijing), Megaron (Athens), Megaron (Thessalonica), Cite de la Musique (Paris), Warsaw Philharmonic, S1 Studio of the Polish Radio, and NOSPR Katowice. He is a former faculty member at Katowice Music Academy, and continues to run violin and chamber workshops in Poland, Italy, and Greece, and teaches in Singapore, Turkey and South Korea.  

Leader of violas with the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic, ARTUR ROZMYSLOWICZ studied at the F. Chopin University of Music with professor Błażej Sroczyński, then received a grant to study a the Guidall School of Music and Drama in London as part of Jack Glickman’s master class. He has taken part in numerous master classes including those in Łańcut (Poland), Pueblo (Mexico), London, Ottawa (Canada), and the Książ Castle. He mastered his skills with artists such as P. Zukerman, M. Tree, S. Kamasa, S. Popov, members of the Guarneri Quartet, the Takács Quartet, the Heine Quartet, and the Silesian String Quartet. He has performed at Warsaw Autumn Festival, International Festival of Chamber Music Ensemble, Wratislavia Cantans, tBeethoven Festival, Chain Festival, La Frentana, Jazztopad, Pacific Music Festival (Japan), tPaxos International Music Festival (Greece), Music on the Heights Festival, Tansmania, Chopin and his Europe, Spaces of Music, and Klara Festival in Brussels. As a chamber musician, he has appeared at theatre festivals such as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and SESC Belenzinho in São Paulo. He has worked with the London Symphony Orchestra, National Basque Orchestra, Sinfonia Juventus, Polish Radio Orchestra, and World Orchestra for Peace, and given concerts with distinguished conductors such as Jackek Kaspszyk, Gabriel Chmura, Michael Tilson Thomas, Valery Gergiev, sir Colin Davis, and Yakov Kreizberg.

First cellist of the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic, MACIEJ MLODAWSKI studied cello at the F. Chopin University of Music with professors Tomasz Strahl and Andrzej Bauer, and was a guest student at the Hochschule für Musik Augsburg with Julius Berg and Sebastian Hess. Młodawski has developed his skills in numerous master classes with artists including Miloš Sadlo, Victoria Yagling, Claus Reichardt, Kazimierz Michalik, and Johannes Goritzki, and as a chamber musician with Roman Totenberg, Christiane Edinger, Jerzy Marchwiński, Maja Nosowska, Krystyna Borucińska, and Paul Gulda. He is a prize winner of the D. Danczowski Cello Competition in Poznań and the Chamber Music Competition in Łódź. As a soloist, he appeared mainly with the Orchestra of the Wrocław Philharmonic, opening the 2008-2009 season and as one of two soloists alongside Garrick Olsohn on the orchestra's tour across the U.S. in 2012. He has also premiered Ståle Kleiberg’s Dopo for cello and orchestra in Poland. As a soloist, in a duo with Agnieszka Przemyk-Bryła, and as a chamber musician, he has taken part in many festivals and given concerts in many cities all around the world.

The musicians:
Amir ElSaffar – composition, trumpet, vocals  
Ksawery Wójciński – double bass
Waclaw Zimpel – clarinet

Lutosławski Quartet
Bartosz Woroch – 1st violin
Marcin Markowicz – 2nd violin
Artur Rozmysłowicz – viola
Maciej Młodawski –  cello

 

This project is co-presented with