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Sample Track 1:
"Caress" from Caress
Sample Track 2:
"Passport" from Caress (to Edward Said)
Sample Track 3:
"I Pass By Your Name (Poem by Mahmoud Darwish)" from Concerto Al Andalus
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Concerto Al Andalus
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Edward Said Introduces Marcel Khalifé

Below is an introduction that Edward Said gave at an event at Swarthmore College in Philadelphia on April 29th, 2002. The event honored Mahmoud Darwish, the Arab world's most prominent contemporary poet. Marcel Khalifé was invited to participate in the event in recognition of his role in "popularizing" Mahmoud Darwish's poems and making them accessible to the layperson in the Arab World by composing music to his poems, among those of other contemporary Arab poets, and singing these poems. Mahmoud Darwish's poetry figures prominently in Marcel Khalifé's lyrical works.

The late Edward Said, Arab American intellectual and scholar, author, music critic and accomplished pianist was invited to introduce both Darwish and Khalifé. Professor Said often contributed articles on music to The Nation magazine.

Two of the iconic figures of contemporary Arab culture are here, on a rather unique occasion, bringing them together on the same stage in suburban Philadelphia at Swarthmore College. But such are the wonders of modern communication…

I’m pleased, first of all to introduce for the first half of the program, the Lebanese singer and oud player Marcel Khalifé, who was born in Lebanon and was trained as a musician in Lebanon – he was born in 1950 – and has become a kind of pioneer in two rather special things; and I’m going to be very brief, because many of you know who he is, but those of you who don’t know him, should know that he has become a hero of Arabic song and music literally all over the Arab world, although he is Lebanese, because he transcends national boundaries in what he does and what he sings about, and in his manner.

First of all, he is that rare thing – and take it from me, it is rare, because I know a lot about music – he is a musician engagé – he is involved in the society and the times of which he is a part.

These times are powerless times, as you know, for the Arabs, and Palestinians in particular, and therefore he gives voice to those things, those great issues that face the Arab world in a way that is not only contemporary, but deeply moving. He talks about, or rather sings about liberation, social injustice, tradition and modernity and the lives of people, and he has done more than anyone, done the most to raise the level of popular music in the Arab world.

The second thing that he has done and continues to do, is that he is, I think, the only major musician in the Arab world singing in Arabic, to compose his songs using contemporary Arab poetry, and he doesn’t resort to what most singers do today in Arabic – that is to say, sentimental or unimportant, nugatory, trivial lyrics.

His music has been particularly associated with the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish and I think this is what gives his presence here its absolute relevance. So instead of soporific sentimentalism, he has brought an elevation of lyrics in a popular idiom to the entire Arab world in a way that nobody has succeeded in doing.

So would you please welcome Marcel Khalifé and his Ensemble…

--Edward Said

Additional Info
Marcel Khalife Caresses the World with Depth & ...
Marcel Khalifé's Statement on the Eve of his Fall 2004 USA Tour and ...
Edward Said Introduces Marcel Khalifé
Mahmoud Darwish on Marcel Khalifé

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