About rahim alhaj, Master of the oud

“One of the top oud players in the world” - San Francisco Chronicle

“Unique combination of traditional and innovative performance techniques. Alhaj’s spontaneous inventions are constantly fascinating.” - Los Angeles Times

NEA 2015 National Heritage Fellowship Award Recipient

Rahim AlHaj, virtuoso oud musician and composer, was born in Baghdad, Iraq and began playing the oud (the grandfather of all stringed instruments) at age nine. Early on, it was evident that he had a remarkable talent for playing the oud. Mr. Alhaj studied under the renowned Munir Bashir, considered by many to be the greatest oud player ever, and Salim Abdul Kareem, at the Institute of Music in Baghdad, Iraq. Mr. AlHaj won various awards at the Conservatory and graduated in 1990 with a diploma in composition. He holds a degree in Arabic Literature from Mustunsariya University in Baghdad.

In 1991, after the first Gulf War, Mr. AlHaj was forced to leave Iraq due to his activism against the Saddam Hussein regime and began his life in Jordan and Syria. He moved to the US in 2000 as a political refugee and has resided in Albuquerque, NM ever since. In 2015 Rahim was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor for traditional arts in the USA.

Rahim has performed around the globe (including Europe, China, India, Russia, Australia and New Zealand) and is considered one of the finest oud players in the world. He has won many accolades and awards including two Grammy nominations. Rahim has recorded and performed with other master musicians of varied backgrounds and styles including genre-busting American guitarist Bill Frisell, modern accordion innovator Guy Klucevsek, Indian sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan and indy-rock pioneers REM. He has composed pieces for solo oud, string quartet, symphony and beyond. Rahim’s music delicately combines traditional Iraqi maqams with contemporary styling and influence. His compositions evoke the experience of exile from his homeland and of new beginnings in his adopted country. His pieces establish new concepts without altering the foundation of the traditional “Iraqi School of Oud”.

Rahim has released twelve CDs. His latest album, One Sky (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings), released in April 2018 is a call for friendship and features Iranian santour maestro Sourena Sefati. Letters From Irag (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings), is a powerful musical meditation on consequences in a postwar reality featuring oud, percussion and string quintet. Infinite Hope (2015) with Indian sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan, is a follow up to their 2010 Grammy-nominated collaboration Ancient Sounds, while Journey (2014), is a retrospective of Rahim’s music up to the 2014, including a new track. Little Earth was released in 2010 to remarkable reviews. The two-CD project features Rahim’s original composition in collaboration with the likes of Frisell, Klucevsek, Peter Buck (REM), Maria De Barros, Liu Fang, Robert Mirabal, Hossein Omoumi, Santa Fe Guitar Quartet, Yacouba Sissoko, Stephen Kent, and many more including Little Earth Orchestra. Other releases include Under The Rose (2009) with Ottmar Liebert, Jon Gagan and Barrett Martin, with all net proceeds benefitting Direct Aid Iraq; Home Again (2008), a tour de force of touching and evocative original compositions portraying his trip to Iraq after 13 years in exile; When the Soul is Settled: Music of Iraq (2007) nominated for a Grammy in 2008 and earlier recordings include Friendship: Oud and Sadaqa String Quartet (2005), The Second Baghdad (2002) and the live CD Iraqi Music in a Time of War (2003).


LetterS from Iraq Now with the Del Sol String QUARTET

Created from the text of actual letters expressing the emotions of Iraqis living in their war-torn country, "Letters from Iraq"  is a poignant telling through music of war, its aftermath and its consequences. These stories become more than an aural presentation.

Performance Highlights (tap Images to watch and listen)

Recipient of the the National Heritage Fellowship Award

Recipient of the the National Heritage Fellowship Award

Recipient of the the National Heritage Fellowship Award


Rahim AlHaj Trio: Middle Eastern Music from New Mexico, performance from The Library of Congress in 2006. 

Recipient of the the National Heritage Fellowship Award

Recipient of the the National Heritage Fellowship Award


A Look at Bill Frisell and Rahim AlHaj, the Music of "Baghdad/Seattle Suite"

Recipient of the the National Heritage Fellowship Award


Rahim AlHaj - Letters From Iraq - The Last Time We Will Fly Birds Seattle Symphony.

Rahim Alhaj and Nick Baker on Tiny Desk Concerts NPR

Rahim AlHaj and Nick Baker perform on Tiny Desk Concerts, from NPR


Rahim AlHaj recording for Smithsonian  Folkways Recordings, Featured Recording 


Rahim AlHaj Press , Awards, Past Performances and more.


Chopsmiester Marko Churnchetz, Jazz Pianist/Arranger


Marko Črnčec is one of Slovenia's most heralded contemporary musicians and renowned exports. On the international scene he is known as a formidable young multiinstrumentalist, composer, arranger and producer who easily works across genres and in particular jazz and popular music. Črnčec was born May 15, 1986 in Maribor, Slovenia and by the age of age six his musical path began by studying classical music on accordion and then piano at the age of ten. A prodigious talent, by his teens he was a multiple award-winner in both national and international competitions, and he earned a classical piano degree at the Conservatory of Music and Ballet Maribor, Slovenia in 2005 as well as jazz piano degree at the University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Graz, Austria in 2009 where he graduated with honors. Črnčec has released four albums as a leader: Signature and Moral Interchange (both released in 2010 on B.A.S.E.). His third high critically acclaimed album Devotion, featuring Mark Shim (saxophone), Chris Tordini (doublebass) and Justin Brown (drums), released on Whirlwind Recordings, the prolific London-based imprint was selected among 20 best jazz releases of 2014 by the famous jazz publication “All About Jazz”. This april 2017 his forth album was released, entitled “Ruthenia – Retrospective to the Russian Composers of 20th Century”. It is presenting a big amount of his compositional ability. Album consists of 8-movement Suite, written for a jazz quartet (guitar, piano, doublebass and drums) and a 12-piece chamber orchestra (6 violins, 2 violas, chello, flute, French horn and oboe). The Suite is written in a classical compositional concept, but open for improvisations in between the movements for instrumental soloist to express their personal sound as musicians, especially the guitar., which is played by the world renowned artist Mike Moreno. Special featured musicians on this album next to the piano player and leader Črnčec are also Chris Jennings on doublebass and Rudy Royston on drums. In his short career Črnčec has already performed or recorded with the many following notable musicians: Bob Mintzer, Seamus Blake, Don Menza, Michael Phillip Mossman, Ron McClure, Luis Bonilla, John Ellis, Gary Chaffee, Damion Reid, Mark Shim, Chris Tordini, Justin Brown, Marco Minnemann, Stjepko Gut, Marcus Gilmore, Rez Abbasi, Mark Shim, Armando Gola, Suresh Talwalkar, Jonathan Powell, Kenny Grohowski, Gwen Hughes, Stefan Milenkovich, Boško Petrovic, Karmina Silec, Sharat Shrivastava, Gyan Syngh, Bernhard Schimpelsberger, Karlheinz Miklin, Bajsa Arifovska, Stanko Arnold, and many others. He has played on major festivals and clubs around the world, like: Brosella Jazz Festival, Havana Jazz Festival, Unterfahrt Jazz Club Munich, Porgy and Bess Vienna, Vienna Konzerthaus, Jazz Festival Sarajevo, Jazz Festival Belgrade, Jazz Festival Ljubljana, Tangente Jazz Club Liechenstein, Salsa Festival Barcelona, Ohrid Music Festival, Rovinj Salsa Festival, Dubrovnik Music Festival, Stockholm A-Capella Festival, Sava Centar Belgrade, Gramercy Theater NYC, Blue Note Jazz Club, Gregorys Jazz Club Rome, Sunside Sunset Paris, and many others…

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From Marko's Latest Recording | PLACE to Live

Title Track from Place to Live

“Marko is a new bright light in jazz music. This album is a magnificent articulation of contemporary composition and improvisation. Excellent performance by everyone involved.”

-Billy Hart 


Promotional Video for RUTHENIA: Retrospective Of Russian Composers Of The 20th Century

View All About Jazz Review 


Check out "Risk Free" from Marko's Recording, "DEVOTION"

Read All About Jazz Review

Ashley Bathgate TO Perform "just ancienT Loops"

About Ashley Bathgate

American cellist Ashley Bathgate has been described as an “eloquent new music interpreter” (New York Times) and “a glorious cellist” (The Washington Post) who combines “bittersweet lyricism along with ferocious chops” (New York Magazine). Her “impish ferocity”, “rich tone” and “imaginative phrasing” (New York Times) have made her one of the most sought after performers of her time. The desire to create a dynamic energy exchange with her audience and build upon the ensuing chemistry is a pillar of Bathgate's philosophy as a performer. Dynamism drives her to venture into previously uncharted areas of ground-breaking sounds and techniques, breaking the mold of a cello's traditionally perceived voice. Collaborators and fans alike describe her vitality as nothing short of remarkable and magical for all who are involved.

Bathgate was a member of the acclaimed sextet Bang on a Can All-Stars for ten years. She is also a member of the chamber music group HOWL, TwoSense with pianist Lisa Moore, and Bonjour, a low-strung, percussive quintet. In 2015 Bathgate gave the world premiere of What Moves You, a collaborative performance project with jookin’ dance sensation Lil Buck at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, NC, as well as the world premiere of a new Cello Concerto written for her by Kate Moore for the Gaudeamus Festival in Utrecht, NL. Subsequently, she released her debut album, Stories For Ocean Shells, featuring a set of works for solo cello composed by Moore, which was released in 2016 on Cantaloupe Music. That year Bathgate also commissioned the ‘composer collective’ Sleeping Giant to write ASH, a six-movement suite for solo cello. Both ASH and her latest album, 8 Track, featuring new multitrack works by Alex Weiser and Emily Cooley, as well as a new rendition of Steve Reich’s Cello Counterpoint, will be commercially released this coming season. Most recently, she premiered a new evening length work by Michael Gordon, House Music, at the 2018 Cello Biennale in Amsterdam, NL. 

Bathgate’s radio/television appearances include performances on BBC Radio 3, WKCR, WMHT, WQXR’s Meet the Composer podcast with Nadia Sirota, NPR’s Performance Today, WYNC’s New Sounds Live, SiriusXM, Late Night and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Her recorded work can be found on Albany Records, Cantaloupe Music, Innova Recordings, La-La Land Records, Naxos, New Amsterdam Records, Nonesuch, Starkland and Uffda Records. She has also recorded for several podcasts presented by Wondery, Gimlet and Stitcher.

Bathgate studied at Bard College with Luis Garcia-Renart (B.M.) before continuing her education at Yale University with renowned cellist Aldo Parisot (M.M. & A.D). Originally from Saratoga Springs, NY, Bathgate began her cello studies with the late Rudolf Doblin, principal cellist and assistant music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic in the 1950’s. After his passing, she resumed her tutelage with Ann Alton at Skidmore College. A member of the Empire State Youth Orchestra at the time, Bathgate was also the unprecedented two-time winner of the Lois Lyman Concerto Competition, performing the Saint-Saens and Schumann Cello Concertos with the orchestra at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. While at Bard College, she was invited to perform both the d’Albert and Barber Cello Concertos with the American Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Leon Botstein and then went on to win Yale University’s Concerto Competition in 2008, performing with the Yale Philharmonia in New Haven’s legendary Woolsey Hall. 

Bathgate resides in Saratoga Springs, NY.

For Just Ancient Loops contact me through my website @ SeriousMusicMedia.com

For other works you can email Ashley Bathgate directly

See Artist Website

Michael Harrison composed "Just Ancient Loops" for Cellist Maya Beiser and was recorded by Maya Beiser. which lives on the Recording "Time Loops" on the Cantaloupe Label. View recording details here. 

Just Ancient Loops, with its evocative drone 

unfolds like a journey. The music with its blend of East and West, soars in interlocking swirls of color, rests in a central chorale and builds steam to an ecstatic conclusion, sounding as if it has always been here.” –Tom Huizenga, NPR “Top Classical Albums of 2012”  View Press for Michael here. 

willl be brought by the amazing cellist Ashley Bathgate.