MMI Recordings Releases 'Christiane Karam and the Pletenitsa Balkan Choir,' 'Layth & Naseem'
The MMI Recordings is launching two new albums to finish this school year. Christiane Karam and the Pletenitsa Balkan Choir features more than 40 student performers as well as the Berklee World Strings directed by Eugene Friesen, and Layth & Naseem is the first release by Jordanian violinist Layth Sidiq and Palestinian cellist Naseem Alatrash.
The album Christiane Karam and the Pletenitsa Balkan Choir begins with "Salve Regina Suite," a musical journey that takes the listener from a Gregorian chant to a traditional Ladino song and ends with Arabic folkloric music. Performed by an 11-person student choir, the piece features Palestinian cellist Naseem Alatrash and and the choir's director, Christiane Karam, who is an assistant professor at Berklee. Originally conceived to open the Cervantes Anniversary Concert at the Berklee Performance Center in spring 2015, the suite is based on an idea by MMI Artistic Director Javier Limón and arranged by student Inna Dudukina and Karam.
The song "A Kaval Plays" is a collaboration between the Berklee World Stringsand the Pletenitsa Balkan Choir. Karam and Friesen compiled several Bulgarian folk songs into a suite and Friesen wrote a stunning arrangement for string orchestra to complement the soaring choral textures.
"It was a thrill to add the rhythm of our Berklee Strings players to the beauty and passion of the Pletenitsa Balkan Choir. The music of Bulgaria is especially inspiring to me personally and this collaboration was pure joy!" said Friesen.
Layth & Naseem, an album of Arabic music by Jordanian violinist Layth Sidiq and Palestinian cellist Naseem Alatrash, was created last year as the first concert of the MMI Casa Arabe Concert Series. It was performed to sold-out audiences at Casa Arabe's headquarters in Madrid and Cordoba, a consortium devoted to raise awareness of the Arab and Muslim World in Spain.
The album contains tracks from the live performances at Casa Arabe and studio performances recorded in Boston. The repertoire performed includes traditional songs from Egypt, Iraq, India, Palestine, and Jordan. Sidiq and Alatrash both graduated from Berklee in 2015, and Sidiq will begin studying for a master of music in performance at Berklee in Boston this September.
Watch and listen to the studio recording of one of the tracks of the album:
The MMI Recordings are part of an initiative with the goal to to support both Mediterranean music and our outstanding students as emerging artists in these rich traditions. The initial release of each album includes 100 promotional copies that the artists will use to promote their music and pursue their musical careers. You can listen to the albums at https://www.berklee.edu/mmi/mmi-recordings.