This CD presents a unique collection of Arabic and Jewish music performed and recorded at the International Cello Festival in Maryland in February 2001 by renowned American, Arabic, and Jewish musicians. The Baltimore Sun, when reporting about the Festival and its theme, "Music for Peace in the Middle East," wrote: "During this collaboration, artists will use music to foster new hope for Israeli-Palestinian relations. Perhaps the leading political figures on both sides can travel next week to Maryland for a musical summit. It couldn't hurt. Cecylia Barczyk, Professor at Towson University and founder of the festival, believes: "Music is not only entertainment. It has other functions too. It can stimulate minds towards thoughts of peace..."
The Arabic compositions recorded on this CD present a synthesis of basic traditional Arabic and Islamic values that foster peace: love, solidarity, fidelity, and prayer. This engaging music is full of traditional Arabic elements, skillfully blended with Western classical music patterns. Concerto and Memoirs by Sidiq use the virtuosic possibilities as well as singing qualities of the cello to evoke a reflective mood. Memoirs expresses Sidiq's great nostalgia for his "lost homeland" (after studying in Moscow, he left his native Iraq to live in Jordan). In Taqasim and Khilkhal, Fakhouri, who was born in Lebanon, and raised and educated in Jordan and the USA, uses Bedouin themes and elements to create powerful expression through music. Love Dance contains elements of joyous Arabic dances.
Bruch's arrangement of the Jewish liturgical song Kol Nidre has become one of the greatest pearls of music. In a letter to his friend Cantor Eduard Birnbaum (dated December 4, 1889), Bruch wrote: "Even though I am a Protestant, as an artist I deeply felt the outstanding beauty of these melodies and therefore I gladly spread them through my arrangement." Similarly, Bloch's Nigun reflects on the deep emotional and religious feeling of the act of atonement, and has inspired listeners around the world. Both works express a deep desire for a peaceful lasting relationship between people and God.
Borowsky's Israeli Dance, "Let Us Go to Jerusalem," is dedicated to the youth of Israel- Jewish, Christian, and Muslim- and is a dynamic call to action to restore peace in the Middle East. This work was premiered by the King David String Ensemble of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. on February 6, 2003.
Cecylia Barczyk, "the first lady of the cello," as the media have called her, has achieved international recognition as a complete artist, successful teacher, and great humanitarian. She has given concerts, recitals, and master classes throughout Europe, Asia and both North and South America. Currently, she is Professor of Cello at the Towson University in Maryland and Director of the International Cello Festival. In November 2000 she was awarded the prestigious Paderewski Award for Distinguished Contributions to Society and Culture.
Emmanuel Borowsky is one of the most outstanding violinists of his generation. Born in 1987, he has played the violin since he was four years old. He is the winner of the Antonio Vivaldi Medal, The Cultural Achievement Award-Jerusalem, and the Best '99 CD Award for his debut solo album, Pearls of Music, together with his sister Elizabeth. In September 2000, Emmanuel represented North America at the World Child Prodigies Concert organized by UNESCO.
Since her debut at age seven, Elizabeth Borowsky has performed in the USA and abroad, including Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Elizabeth's musicality and technique have been praised around the world by audiences and music experts alike. She has received both national and international awards and prizes, including the International Music Talent Award, International Young Artists Award, Heidelberg Grand Prix, and four-time Winner of the Scholarship Competition of the Chopin Foundation of the United States.
Mohammed Taha is an internationally performing soloist known for his innovative combinations of performing Arabic and Western percussion instruments. He is the co-founder of the Fuheis Troupe for Revival of Musical Heritage in Jordan. Presently, he is a Professor of Arab percussion and member of the Symphony Orchestra at the National Music Conservatory in Amman.
The Towson University/Maryland Cello Ensemble was founded in 1986 by Professor Cecylia Barczyk for T.U. cello students and graduates, as well as other outstanding cellists from Maryland and neighboring states. Highlights of the Ensemble's performances include concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and the World Cello Congress III.