This is the fourth in a series of stories about some of the performers appearing at the Princeton Traditional Music Festival. The Festival begins on the evening of Friday, August 16 with the opening ceremony followed by a country-dance on Veterans’ Way beside the Legion. The dance will feature a live band with fiddle, guitar and concertina. Everyone is welcome. There will be a caller to teach the dances so no experience is necessary and people don’t even need to bring a partner. On Saturday and Sunday there will be music from 10 am until 6 p.m. right in town.
We are very fortunate this year to have a wealth of new performers, some of whom play music far different from anything you might hear on the radio. One of these musicians is Hazem Matar, originally from Saudi Arabia, who plays the oud, a lute-like instrument strung similarly to a twelve-string guitar. The modern oud and the European lute both descend from a common ancestor via diverging paths. The oud is readily distinguished by its lack of frets and smaller neck. It is considered an ancestor of the guitar.
According to Farabi, a philospher, scientist and musician of the Islamic golden age, the oud was invented by Lamech, the sixth grandson of Adam. The legend tells that the grieving Lamech hung the body of his dead son from a tree. The first oud was inspired by the shape of his son’s bleached skeleton. The oldest pictorial record of a lute dates back to ancient prehistory in Southern Mesopotamia over 5000 years ago on a cylinder seal currently housed at the British Museum.
The oud is played throughout central Asia and North Africa. Hazem has played the oud, for over 20 years. He studied Arabic classical music for oud and vocals with one of Saudi Arabia’s great masters, Ghazi Ali. Well-known for his technique and musical spirit in his home city of Jeddah, Hazem brings the Arab world’s rich musical tradition to Princeton.
Hazem Matar is just one of the new performers appearing at this year’s Festival, and the best thing about it is it’s free!
The reason it’s free is because it’s run entirely by volunteers and the performers are donating their talents. To make the festival a success the organizers will need lots of volunteers. If you’d like to get involved, please contact them. Even if you have only a couple of hours available your help would be most welcome. Give them a call and they’ll welcome you aboard. To find out more visit the Festival’s webblog at princetontraditional.org or give Jon and Rika a call at 295-6010.