Intercultural Journeys presents
Rahim Alhaj: Letters from Iraq
Now AlHaj presents his most powerful work yet. Letters From Iraq (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2017) is a poignant telling through music of war, its aftermath and its consequences. These stories become more than an aural presentation. They are truly an audiovisual virtual reality at the hands of AlHaj and a cast of masterful musicians. Each piece presents a unique scenario, together they weave a complete tale of devastation, pain, redemption and, ultimately, hope. Live, these compositions are performed with string quintet and Arabic percussion, surrounding AlHaj’s poignant and masterful oud playing, at times mournful and heart wrenching then stabbing, disturbing, defiant then beautifully sweet and hopeful, yet always honest and fearless.
And join us BEFORE the show at 6 pm for an exhibition featuring
artist and architect Mayyadah Alhumssi!
Mayyadah was born in Damascus, Syria, to Iraqi parents. From early childhood, she showed interest is drawing, creating scenes of a small cottage in a rainy day on the header of her notebook. She graduated from Baghdad University with a Bachelor’s degree in Architectural Engineering. She has confronted war several times in her life. After violence encroached on her neighborhood in 2006 (following the U.S. invasion in 2003), Mayyadah sought refuge in Syria where she restarted painting, communicating her love of Baghdad and of Damascus, with street scenes and reflections on Iraqi culture. It became impossible to remain in Syria, where a civil war had flared up. Mayyadah, her husband and their four children got on the last plane of refugees flying directly from Damascus to the U.S. Since settling in Philadelphia in 2012, Mayyadah has worked as a retail associate, a case manager and an interpreter and peer educator. She’s also continued as an artist, painting images that introduce the beauty and complexity of Iraq to her new city, and that provide continuity and connections for other Iraqi refugees here through the preservation of valued stories and cultural symbols.