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Review Mon Nov 24 2008

Middle East Music Ensemble: Jerusalem: A World of Music


The University of Chicago's Middle East Music Ensemble gives a free performance at 6pm on Saturday, November 29th at the UofC's International House. The performance is free, and well worth even a trip down to Hyde Park, for all of you living north of Madison St.. (Come on, when was the last time you made it that far south?) If you're not familiar with the music of the Levant, this is an excellent place to start. (If you are, then you probably don't need my amateur musicological analysis, so.) The Ensemble numbers about 20 musicians on a diverse range of instruments. Some (flute, viola, clarinet) are common in Western arrangements, but many aren't, particularly the kaleidoscopic variety of stringed instruments that provide much of the sonic heart of the music. I dropped in for a rehearsal last Thursday and heard several gorgeous pieces, rich with rhythm and counterpoint. The interplay between the melodies carried by the bowed strings and wind instruments, and those on the ouds and other plucked strings was particularly enoyable. The rhythms are realized in lush percussion, full of deep bass tones and ringing, tambourine-like sounds, and had my foot tapping the whole time. (I was hoping no one heard me picking out the rhythms by drumming my pen on my notebook. I didn't even realize I was doing it at first.)

An obligatory note: It feels a little funny describing this as musical tourism, as if you're going to "see" the world by exposing yourself to unfamiliar music, but it would be silly not to acknowledge that this is the experience for lot of people with music that has little exposure in our insular listening practices. And no doubt, part of the Ensemble's project is to convey some culture along with the tunes. More importantly, the connection between the music and the culture of the area isn't specious: as with any traditional music, there really is something idiosyncratic preserved in the rhythmic, melodic and harmonic patterns. You can learn all the factual history you want. Like food or literature, music can convey something about what it is like, on a raw sensory level, to be there - and in this case, being there is good.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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