Istiwanāt Live! Arabic Music Ensemble in a Homegrown Concert Series Archive Challenge – Event

Istiwanāt Live! Arabic Music Ensemble reinterprets music that was originally performed 100 years ago for a transnational industry of Arab, Arab American and international record labels, and which has recently been released into the public domain. The concert is inspired by the “Archive Challenge,” an initiative of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and draws on archived recordings in Loeb Library at Harvard University and the Library of Congress. The performers are all directors of university-based Arab music ensembles.  They have challenged themselves to research, transcribe, study, practice and perform new “covers” of these “golden oldies” and to share them with their students. Performing on ‘ud, qanun, violin, and percussion (riqq and daff), their takht (or small ensemble) brings the highlights of their research to the concert stage, contextualizing the music and artistry of the past and repurposing it for contemporary audiences. The members are Anne K. Rasmussen, Jared Holton, Albert Agha, and Anne Elise Thomas.

The Homegrown Music Concert Series is part of AFC’s ongoing public programming activities highlighting the fields of folklife, ethnomusicology, oral history, and related disciplines; foregrounding its archival holdings; and fulfilling its congressionally mandated mission.

The event is free and open to the public, but a ticket is required.

Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or



Albert Agha

Assistant Professor of Music, Performing Arts Program, American University of Sharjah Director, Arabic Music Ensemble Artistic Director, Sukoon Ensemble


Jared Holton

Assistant Professor of Ethno/musicology, Hugh Hodgson School of Music, University of Georgia Director, UGA Middle East Ensemble


Anne Rasmussen

Professor of Ethnomusicology and Bickers Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at William and Mary Director, the W&M Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, est. 1994


Anne Elise Thomas

Assistant Professor of Music, Sweet Briar College Director, Itraab Arabic Music Ensemble (Virginia Tech) Charter member, the W&M Middle Eastern Music Ensemble

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