It starts with a distant violin, and is later joined by energetic syncopated percussion and other strings. It’s reminiscent of the Middle East and a bunch of other places, and yes, it will be playing at the Canadian Arab Institute’s upcoming gala concert, Sultans and Divas, on December 4th.
“The Road to Kfar Mishki” is just as it sounds – a journey into the Beqaa Valley – from Beirut into one of the little villages in it – Kfar Mishki. A musical journey in its current form, “The Road to Kfar Mishki” actually started out as a real journey in Lebanon.
Chris McKhool, co-founder of the ensemble Sultans of String, went on a trip to his father’s hometown in Lebanon – Kfar Mishki. He was looking for people who resembled his father and was inspired enough to write a piece about that search – the search for the roots, somewhere.
But that’s only one of the journeys that inspired the music. The other one is Chris’ meeting Kevin Laliberte. After getting off the road from touring and hearing him play guitar, he knew a collaboration of some sorts was a must!
And so it happened. They did the first recording in 2007, and now they play in an ensemble of 6, including guitarist Eddie Paton, bass master Drew Birston and David Woodhead, and Cuban master percussionists Chendy Leon and Alberto Suarez. Together, they write, play and improvise a mix of Middle Eastern, Latin, Gypsy-jazz, and folk rhythms.
Now, if you’re wondering what that mix means in musical terms, you could easily resort to good old Google and its friend, YouTube. But a nicer idea would be to come see them play live at Koerner Hall in December. Their strings will take you to meditative places, and their percussion and Oud, played by Oud master Bassam Bishara, will make you dance, or maybe even clap along (which Chris and his Strings will most likely ask you to!)
Tickets are now on sale HERE!
Photograph by: Steve Gerecke, Ottawa Citizen