The acclaimed Iraqi-American musician Amir ElSaffar is known for effortlessly fusing the mysticism of the Iraqi maqam tradition with flamenco and jazz. In Luminiscencia, ElSaffar brings together an ensemble of great exponents of the new vanguard of Flamenco; including vocalist Gema Caballero, a rising star and one of the most distinct voices on the scene, Vanesa Aibar, a Flamenco dancer going beyond the conventions of the form and Flamenco percussionist Pablo Martin Jones, a regular collaborator to Flamenco artists. The ensemble also includes mastermind electronics musician Lorenzo Bianchi Hoesch, as well as ElSaffar’s sister, Dena ElSaffar, who plays violin and traditional Iraqi fiddle. Using elegant, melodic arabesques to connect traditions, this special line up merges passions for classical forms into a unique evening of soulful dance and music.
A Fondation Royaumont and Flamenco Biennale Nederland production, supported by The Abu Dhabi Festival and presented in partnership with Flamenco Festival London and Sadler’s Wells.
Amir ElSaffar Ensemble
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 US Artist Fellow, ElSaffar is an expert trumpeter with a classical background, conversant not only in the language of contemporary jazz, but has created techniques to play microtones and ornaments idiomatic to Arabic music that are 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. As a composer, ElSaffar has used the subtle microtones found in Iraqi 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, and contemporary music ensembles, as well as dance troupes.