#RevelsConnects: Musical Connections

Christiane Karam: Music of the Middle East

April 26, 2022 Revels Season 2 Episode 4
Christiane Karam: Music of the Middle East
#RevelsConnects: Musical Connections
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#RevelsConnects: Musical Connections
Christiane Karam: Music of the Middle East
Apr 26, 2022 Season 2 Episode 4

Born and raised in war-torn Beirut, Lebanon, Christiane’s unique vocal style stems from her love for different musical traditions. She is the leader and founder of the award-winning ZilZALA Ensemble, which blends classical, traditional, and folk music from different regions of the Middle East and the Balkans with contemporary jazz. She is also the leader of the acclaimed Pletenitsa Balkan Choir. Christiane is a staunch activist for cultural understanding, tolerance, and non-violent conflict resolution, and works to bring awareness and Positive Social Change through music and the arts. Don't miss this new #RevelsConnects: Musical Connections episode as Christiane discusses her musical inspiration and how her upbringing inspires her work. Hosted by Maggie Holtzberg, Folk Arts & Heritage Program Manager at the Mass Cultural Council.

Each #RevelsConnects: Musical Connections podcast is a follow-up to a 45-minute salon-style performance with the featured musician, premiering on Facebook Live and available on the Revels YouTube channel. Visit Revels Inc. on YouTube to learn more!

The #RevelsConnects Musical Connections series is sponsored in part by a grant from The Ithaka Foundation and produced in collaboration with the Mass Cultural Council. Audio engineered by Dave Jamrog Audio/Video.

Show Notes Transcript

Born and raised in war-torn Beirut, Lebanon, Christiane’s unique vocal style stems from her love for different musical traditions. She is the leader and founder of the award-winning ZilZALA Ensemble, which blends classical, traditional, and folk music from different regions of the Middle East and the Balkans with contemporary jazz. She is also the leader of the acclaimed Pletenitsa Balkan Choir. Christiane is a staunch activist for cultural understanding, tolerance, and non-violent conflict resolution, and works to bring awareness and Positive Social Change through music and the arts. Don't miss this new #RevelsConnects: Musical Connections episode as Christiane discusses her musical inspiration and how her upbringing inspires her work. Hosted by Maggie Holtzberg, Folk Arts & Heritage Program Manager at the Mass Cultural Council.

Each #RevelsConnects: Musical Connections podcast is a follow-up to a 45-minute salon-style performance with the featured musician, premiering on Facebook Live and available on the Revels YouTube channel. Visit Revels Inc. on YouTube to learn more!

The #RevelsConnects Musical Connections series is sponsored in part by a grant from The Ithaka Foundation and produced in collaboration with the Mass Cultural Council. Audio engineered by Dave Jamrog Audio/Video.

Maggie: Singer Christiane Karam was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. Her unique vocal style is rooted in the musical traditions of the Middle East, the Balkans, and Central Asia. She founded and leads the Pletenitsa Balkan choir, a primarily women's chorus, and the ZilZALA ensemble, which blends classical traditional folk music and contemporary jazz. Currently on the faculty of the Berklee College of Music as an associate professor in voice ensemble and songwriting, she is the founder and leader of the Berklee annual Middle Eastern Festival. In addition to performing, songwriting, and composing, Karam is a staunch activist for cultural understanding, tolerance, and nonviolent conflict resolution, by using the power of songs for social change. Christiane Karam, welcome to Musical Connections. 

Christiane: Hello, Maggie. So nice to be here. Thank you for having me. 

Maggie: You are most welcome and we're so happy to have you! Tell us about your journey to Massachusetts, because you were born elsewhere. 

Christiane: Absolutely. I grew up in Beirut Lebanon in a very difficult time, during the civil war. I grew up playing classical piano on and off with the war. And I was very passionate about music, but I was also passionate about the healing arts and science. Actually, I wanted to be a doctor, and I started my journey in the beginnings of the medical world. I did some rescue work and things like that. And then at one point, because of my experience around hospitals and because of the intensity of the experiences I had been going through, it all be became very intense, but in ways that clarified that this was not perhaps the path for me, and that I could hold space for healing in a different way, through music. This is when music started to take over in a various serendipitous chain reaction of sorts, and I ended up finding out about Berklee, applying to Berklee, and coming here, starting over in 1998. So that was my landing in Boston. And since then this has very much been home base in many ways. But I was in New York for many years as well. And I spent a lot of time in Europe. So, it's been wonderful being able to explore the different facets of the industry and my contribution has varied from role to role. So here we are! 

Maggie: We both came to the state around the same time - '99 for me. So I'm just going to jump right in and ask about one of the beautiful segments of your concert, the Pletenitsa Balkan choir. So you founded and you lead this thing. Tell us a little bit about that choir. 

Christiane: Yeah, sure! I saw myself being extremely drawn to Bulgarian music, Bulgarian culture, and particularly Bulgarian choral music very, very early on. I think I was a teenager when I heard a snippet of the Mystere Des Voix Bulgares, a French band had invited them as guests, and my insides were transformed by that sound. And I have Armenian on my mother's side, Lebanese on my father's side. So regionally, there was a connection. But there was something very pressing for me about wanting to be in Bulgaria. So I started traveling there, learning the language, getting to know the folk tradition, and I fell in love. And I still, to this day, consider it one of my most cherished homes. I was in a choir for a while. I was very, very intent on understanding that art form and, vocally too; there was something that came somewhat naturally to me in that way. It just all felt very familiar. I kind of vowed to start my own choir and I did in 2011. And then we brought in one of my mentors and now dear friend, who's a founding member of the Mystery of Bulgarian voices, so I got to work with her in Bulgaria. And she was a pillar in my growth because she really believed in me. She actually even said in an interview once that I must've been Bulgarian in a past life.

Maggie: I remember the first time I heard Bulgarian music and it did the same thing to me. And I wanted to ask you about what distinguishes that Bulgarian choir singing? Is it something about the intervals? Are there seconds in there? It seems like there's something about the intervals.

Christiane: There a lot. And just to finish my previous thought, I just wanted to say that Bianca, we brought her for one of our festivals here, she's the one who gave us the name Pletenitsa, because she's officially the godmother of this choir, and she said that spoke to the interconnectedness of the cultures that we were portraying, but also how tightly connected we all were in the group, which meant a lot to me. So yeah, I think that the particular vocal production that is there is very peculiar. It's very much its own thing. And I think the way it vibrates in the body is very particular. And then when you have many bodies next to one another, producing that sound, there's something that happens with the frequency where the whole becomes much bigger than the sum of the parts. And there are studies actually that have proven that there's something healing... there are healing properties to that sound. I think musically, in terms of like harmonically, melodically, rhythmically, of course, it's kind of the folk traditions you find in northern Greece and Northern Turkey and the Balkans, you know, you find a lot of these rhythms and these melodies. There's some influence from the Ottoman empire, there are a lot of things, but I think it's, very, very influenced by the Western classical tradition as well. And then if you travel in Bulgaria, there are different regions with very specific folk veins and different types of ornamentation, different types of rhythms, that are characteristic of particular mountain ranges or particular areas. But then also there are different ways that different composers have brought in some of those classical influences into the sound, so the arrangements vary. And there are a lot of seconds. I think the seconds are definitely at the core of that wonderful tension that we hear, but also harmonically, in terms of the choral tradition, the tapestry is incredibly rich. 

Maggie: That's beautiful. I get the part about resonating even within your body. I mean, it reminds me of traditions like tube and throat singing, or even on a Norwegian hard-on or fiddle that has sympathetic strings going underneath so it makes it larger. But that's such a beautiful, beautiful sound. Now that we're on intervals, I wanted you to talk about, because you're talking about all these countries that are near each other and influencing each other, modes versus scales versus makkam. They all are different ways of organizing melodies.

Christiane: I think kind of the main distinction for me is the pre tempered world and the post tempered world. And I think that Western classical music from a few centuries ago has abided by a certain system, which has, you know… I mean, I grew up playing Bach and I have so much reverence for that tradition and it really fills my heart, and is just so aesthetically satisfying. So I think the temper system gave us counterpoint and harmony in a particular way, a different way of approaching the grid, right? The horizontal and the vertical grid. And it's very rich, but I think what is not emphasized enough in the west is that there are so many other traditions that have been around for thousands of years that didn't utilize this system that in same way, that honor almost the natural state of sound and being and frequencies. And it's very different. But there is no harmony, and in some of those Eastern traditions, it's all built on melody and rhythm, and the way the melodies and rhythms are moved together is where all the intricacies and the layering happens, which is very, very different from harmony when you have also that vertical variable. And it all hits you… I grew up around the Arabic tradition, but not in my immediate surrounding. In Lebanon and many, many neighboring countries in that region, you'll find an an Oriental conservatory and then a Western conservatory. You'll have part of the population that is very Western-influenced and believes in the Western tradition. And then there's a whole part of the community that believes in the more classical Arabic tradition or Turkish tradition or whatever it may be in that region. And that in itself, in a interesting way, creates a divide. I went to a French school. In our household, it was very, very Western. My mother went to an American school. My father went to a French school. We went to a French school. We spoke English at home. We listened to French and English and British and American pop. And we listened to Chopin. That's how I grew up. So Arabic music was around me. I could hear it. It was also associated with war and patriotic songs and things that were very violent in my experience. So I wasn't drawn to it in that way. But I remember when I committed to finding out more about my roots and studying the tradition, I remember how much sense it's finally made to me that I always felt a warmth when I listened to Arabic songs. It almost hits you in a different place in your body because the intervals in the non temperate system have not been truncated. So I think it's a more visceral experiencing of music, and that's the main distinction I've found in the appreciation of it. 

Maggie: Beautifully said. I think for some listeners it would help if you just defined pre tempered versus tempered. I mean, you gave the examples of Bach and a standard 88 key piano, but can you just help listeners out there?

Christiane: I mean, the intervals in an octave were equalized, so that transposition became possible. So there was a lot more flexibility playing around the different scales and more compatibility in some way, but by the same token, it messed, for lack of a better word, with the overtone system and it messed with the way frequencies resonate.

Maggie: The concept of microtones. Like if you listen to Indian Carnatic music or Arabic music, there's many more notes.

Christiane: Yeah, absolutely. And this varies from tradition to tradition. I mean, all these traditions that you mentioned are non tempered. But I think what sets the Arabic, Persian, and Turkish traditions apart is that those extra notes are actually part of the scale. They're not ornaments. They're not bends. They're actually… there's a special increment for them. And I think that goes back to the Byzantine times. I think in some traditions, it goes up to 12 actual intervals for whole staff, which is a whole other oral reality. It's beautiful when we train ourselves to start hearing it. There's so much more room. And again, because I grew up as a classical musician, I had very strong relative pitch. But all I had known in my training was the Western system, the classical tradition. So I was fairly confident about my oral skills, about my solfege, about my ear training. And I remember when I first started more formally diving into the Arabic tradition, I was distraught for a while, because what had saved me in all kinds of atonal situations was that when all else fails, you know that the half step is the smallest possible increment that I could hear. And that always got me out of trouble because it was a reference point that helped me find my way. And now suddenly the half step sounded like a fifth because there was so much space. I lost all my bearings for a couple of years and I thought "It's all over. I suck. I'm not a good musician. You can't hear anything." But what it was, and I find that to be a very beautiful metaphor for life as well, is that when you dare to extend and stretch outside of your comfort zone, you have to destroy what feels like a foundation, so that you can make stronger ones and broader ones. I didn't give up and I just stayed with it. What happened was that I was stronger than ever, because now I can very much hear where everything lands in the Western tradition, but there's much more pattern recognition. I can also recognize smaller intervals, and I can also see how it all fits together, which is a beautiful place to be. 

Maggie: It's fascinating. This is reminding me, in a way, of Western supremacy versus not doing that. And when you pointed out that these are not extra notes, it's all about where one is standing, and you know, this is crazy. And even the term, world music, for anything that's not Western, this is not really politically correct anymore. 

Christiane: Of course, of course. And I talked to my students about this all the time, to catch ourselves thinking or speaking those words, because so much is Eurocentric. And I still catch myself using it sometimes because I've been looking and I haven't found an alternative that could come across as adequate. But world music is almost offensive because it implies that some traditions are not part of the world. And to me, all music is world music. But these shifts take time. And I think even when we have to use it for a little while, or we haven't really found a better word, I think just being aware of it and bringing it to each other's attention so we know that it's a work in progress helps expand the awareness and helps us kind of make better judgments as we can. Even Middle East, I tell my students all the time, Middle East compared to what exactly? 

Maggie: Even east and west compared to what? It's all relative to where one is standing. So in a way, I mean your upbringing, although it was tough there... it's really fascinating that you had the Arabic music in your environs, and yet you're trained in this Western thing. So talk to us about how, when you finally got the solfege, you’re playing Bach, what made you want to connect with the other Western music traditions? And how did you get training in that? 

Christiane: Yeah, when I came here and I think that's very typical, kind of a journey of any immigrant. I came here essentially wanting a better life for myself and wanting to pursue a very big passion. But I essentially ran from my life right when I came here. There was definitely an element of, "I gotta get outta here." I felt like I had no chance of making it work for myself where I was because of the violence, and the phantoms of the violence were so haunting to me that I just couldn't get out of it. So as soon as I got here, it made me much more aware, and it's quite an excruciating process. But it made me much more aware of the ways I could belong here, and also the ways that separated me, so to speak, from this particular experience. And I had to go find out. I had to go and face that darkness, but also get all the information and embrace the beauty that came with that part of the world and unentangle it for myself. So there was a very big musical longing and knowing that there was more to me than this. It was just that something felt like it just wasn't sitting right, you know, there was the Western tradition. I hopelessly fell in love with jazz when I got here. But anytime I did any of those things, there was something missing. I knew that I was not looking at all of my colors and all of myself, so I had to go look for it. And then I sought out people in the, you know, like Bassam Saba, may he rest in peace, and Rima Khcheich, an incredible singer and vocalist from Lebanon. And I just knocked on all those doors and I was welcomed with open arms. I just proceeded to just dive in and wrestle with it. I've always been a very big advocate for beginners. And to this day in my life, I take on things that are very difficult, that I'm not good at yet. There's something very brave and humbling, but also so beautiful about that process of daring to start anew and being around people who have more experience. So there was a lot of that wrestling for a few years until I felt like I had more of a command of it and I could start seeing the intersections, and musically, also, I think it's put me in a place of the same as my life, as my relationships. You know, I was speaking of how it depends on where you're standing - my life put me kind of at the heart of so many conflicts, like even my parents, when they got together, they came very different communities and it was frowned upon. And so there was that, but then there was the civil war. There was the genocide on my mother's side because my grandparents were refugees. I mean, so many facets of it almost seemed like a never-ending chain of conflict upon conflict. And musically, there was all this beautiful Western, there was all the contemporary, the pop stuff that spoke to me, but then the Western classical, and then the Arabic. I think I just had to come to terms very early on that I was never to pick sides because the minute I picked one side, I betrayed the other. And so my whole life trajectory became one of like finding the intersections and finding where things actually fit, actually connected, where dialogue was possible. Obviously, I’m very committed to non-violent conflict resolution for obvious reasons. But also musically, it became such a fundamental part of my why. It's to find ways that we could hear each other. And I think it takes both kinds. There are people who are here to preserve traditions, you know, like yourself, right? Like there are people whose job is to preserve things. So that the beauty of those particular traditions is never forgotten and is transmitted in its integrity. And then there are people who take all of that and then explore new ground. I think it takes both kinds. 

Maggie: And I wanted to ask you specifically about the concept of fusion. 

Christiane: Yeah. Like my dear mentor and friend, Simone Shaheen says, " there is fusion and there is confusion." Which I think is one of the most brilliant phrases that were ever spoken. It's very true. And he got on my case so much when I first started mixing things up, you know, I was so daring, but also a little bit oblivious to the pitfalls of it. And I think so many of us are, and I think fusion is a to me… it's a very holy space, right? Where we honor different traditions in a way that makes sense, that creates new sound, but also very much holds space for the soul of each tradition. And I think it takes a lot of mindfulness and knowledge. It's like translating between languages. And when you don't know the languages, the translation is not going to be thorough. It's not gonna communicate, it's not going to have integrity. So I think for me, fusion is also having enough integrity to really understand what one is doing. And, you know, there's appropriation. And I always tell my students, it's like, grabbing one musical element from here and one musical and then from there, and then calling it something is akin to walking into somebody's house and just liking an art object and just taking it on the way out, because you liked it with zero understanding of what it means to that person, why it's there, what the history of it is. So I think after one has paid considerable dues, we get to a point as artists where we can make that call with confidence. Of like, I give myself permission today to bring these things together and to explore this new ground, because I know who I am. I know what I come from. I've studied it. I've lived it, I've experienced it. And I know there's reverence in my process. So I'm just going to go ahead and do it. 

Maggie: That's beautifully said and really helpful for me and the work I do because, you know, there's the traditionalist and the purist, right? Like maybe the mentor you mentioned. And you've put it so beautifully of how, as long as you understand not just the music, but also the context of why people are doing this and what that means to them. And I would add onto that if you have their blessing in that cultural context, then it's fine to move on to these new things. And as all traditions of course are going to evolve and mesh. So this is very helpful for me, this conversation. Actually it reminds me to ask you about the ensemble ZilZALA.

Christiane: It was actually a dear, dear, dear friend of mine, who's a wonderful percussionist and artist in his own rights. And he gave us that name when we first started, it was a very long time, like maybe 20 years ago I started that group and it was my first jumping into this world of wanting to explore the tradition, but also all the other stuff, the jazz, I was just so excited about bringing together. ZilZALA in Arabic means earthquake. And because I was singing like hard rock bands and stuff before I came here, he said I had that earthquake energy. So he baptized the group ZilZALA, it was a very fun group. We packed so many venues here in New York. It was just such a thrilling exploration for me. It's no longer, I mean… here and there, but this group hasn't been out there for a long time now. I have a quintet now that I work with, it's kind of the more distilled version, so to speak, of all the wisdom and the humility I've acquired over the years. But the origins of this whole idea of finding Middle Eastern, Balkan, classical, and jazz connected started there. 

Maggie: No, and it makes sense. I was wondering if the choice to draw from and blend music from these distinct cultures and regions is informed by your activist work to foster cultural exchange. 

Christiane: Absolutely. They're not separate experiences at all. Because I grew up the way I did, the activism and the want, just this deep yearning for connection, for seeing people. I mean, it's as naive as that to me, it's just this deep longing for seeing people get along. I just want to see people get along because I grew up around so much conflict. And so musically, that's how it translates. I remember it was very distressing to me to be in any kind of musical situation where they shunned another musical style or where I felt the separation. And it was a very genuine love for all those traditions and me generally wanting to belong to all of them. It's very much this - we call it the tragedy of the immigrant. The sense that once you've been kind of yanked out of your roots and of your place of birth, you never, ever quite belong anywhere ever again. Not even to your place of birth, because you outgrow that, but then you never quite fit in anywhere. And that was my experience. But also musically, that was my experience. You know, even when I did anything, there was somebody who did that better or more because they were experts in that. And because I wanted to do everything for many years, I was very, very conflicted and very lost. I wasn't the first call for jazz. I wasn't the first call for Arabic. So I felt very, very homeless for a long time until it really dawned on me, and I really held on to that for dear life, where I realized that that was precisely my superpower. It's like having children and you can't sell a child because you got to focus on the other. So all this really felt so much a part of me. And when I stuck with it and painstakingly developed one thing after the other, I realized that had now become me and my sound. And then it became very clear that I got a call when people wanted Christiane. To me, that was a kind of a milestone on my own artistic journey. And then it informed my teaching because then I was able to lead by example in that way and encourage many artists and students who were grappling with the same thing of like, should I give this up, and should I just do this? And really starting to discern and identify when there were many things that were part of an artistic voice, and nurture all of it, but wisely and efficiently. So that it all developed until the sound and the signature of that artist were clear to them, and then to the world. 

Maggie: Well, you have done this successfully. It seems like it would be a tough thing to teach young students, when they're exposed to these various traditions. How are they learning about those cultures and the music in the context of the cultures? Is that part of what they study or is it mostly focused on the musicality?

Christiane: It depends. Every student that crosses my path has had comes to me with a different kind of upbringing, different kind of musical experience, different kind of a cultural tapestry that they have embodied. There are students that I teach because they somehow land in my field of vision. But there are a lot of students who actually seek me out because they see a kind of successful example of what they're longing to achieve. And with those, because there's a little bit more intent and clarity already on their parts, those often end up becoming those mentor-mentee relationships that last a long time because they're looking particularly for the parts of my journey that address that. 

Maggie: I want to talk with you about the social power of music and to have you tell us about your collaboration with songwriter, Mark Simos, on songs for social justice. 

Christiane: Sure, yeah. When I first started at Berklee, I'd already a written proposal class called songwriting of social change. And that started running in 2007. Then shortly after that, we had donors who wanted to fund a contest for social change. And that's when I met Mark, because he was one of the few people at the college at the time who were very dedicated to songwriting for social change. So we became a team, and we've collaborated for many years now. And it's very rich collaboration because we come from very different experiences that have shaped this passion and this love for this very particular art form that is activism and music, namely in songwriting. And to me, again, it can't be… nothing I do can be separate from my deep longing for a different way of apprehending divide and conflict and just the emotional difficulties in relationships. And I think that the collective is just a bunch of people and that any conflict stems from... It's the same dynamic except it's exponentially multiplied. So anything we understand about the dynamic between two people and what creates conflict and perpetuates conflict between two people it can be kind of extrapolated to the masses. My work is essentially just very heart-centered and I really believe that when we take responsibility for our anger, our rage, our unprocessed grief, our beliefs that we've inherited from our past, from our ancestors, from the storytelling from particular narratives that we've kind of embodied, then we can listen in a different way and we can hold space in our head for where we can be more open to somebody else's grief and somebody else's rage. And to me, The way I've gone about it in my own life. What I try to lead with is taking responsibility for oneself and then kind of converting, you know... it's like alchemy for me, of converting those very difficult emotions to more constructive ones. And this is where music comes into play as a powerful tool. Then, to me, it will all one day reach critical mass, where there will be enough people who are aware, who are doing this work, that we will see a shift. So I don't see a separation between the individual and the collective in that way. I find it very reductive when people assume that just music fixes everything and that if we all got on a stage and just played music, you know? Yay! It's all good. And to me, that's not at all, what music does. I think music just bypasses a lot of the noise, and being in a genuine musical exchange with someone is very intimate. So I think it reminds us of our shared humanity, and once we're in that space, then the difficult conversations can happen in a more trusting way. It's a safer place to begin the work as opposed to... oh yay, it's done, you know, we played music together. I mean it's not ill-intentioned by any means, but I think we do need to be very mindful of how complex, how painful, how difficult some of these processes are. And sometimes there's a real deep wounding, you know, when somebody comes from war, when somebody has been violated, or when someone's family has been violated and they've carried that and not really healed it, it's very potent and it's very valid. It's what we do with it, that shifts the trajectory. 

Maggie: Well, your students and audiences can benefit so much from your wisdom and your performance. And my god, the world needs this right now, doesn't it? 

Christiane: Absolutely. You know, it's very poignant, but I'm sure you you're aware there was this devastating blast in Beirut in August of 2020, which came at the heels of so much violence due to so much crisis. And for a lot of us, it was just the last straw, right? It was a very devastating time. I was supposed to go in the studio in the middle of lockdown, we were going to record my album with my quintet, and I was paralyzed by grief. I didn't know how I was going to access anything, how I was going to function. And just a week after the exposure I wrote a piece, or it came to me, it's such a cathartic, sacred process. It's a piece that's called Beirut. That was so emotional to record and the band was so incredible. And, then the year after, you know, as we were still in the pandemic, I really, it was so raw. Like it was such an unrepeatable moment that I really wanted to tell the story of violence and war and PTSD, which have been one of my biggest battles in life. And so we made this video of the of the single so to speak. We released it a few months ago, it's an extremely powerful piece. There are no words. And to me, the idea was that violence and war and being violated, right, is something that so many of us in the world experience. I wanted this to speak to anyone from anywhere, not just Lebanese or that particular war, and I kind of tapped into so much of the raw emotion of what it's like to be in that. It was also… it musically it came together because it had all those influences, but it was just so raw. And very pointedly, my pianist, my dear friend and collaborator and associate producer on this project is from Ukraine. So to watch him go through what he's going through today, and we're playing a show in a couple of weeks and it's, my intention has been... It's just so profound for me that is this kind of constant coming into full circle of understanding that it's really never about any particular war. It's about humans and how humans fall short when it comes to finding another way. And there is no war that is more valid than another. Just resorting to blind violence anytime it is not the answer. And at the time when this song was released, I got very deeply moving messages from people who had survived the Holocaust, from people who were telling me how moved they were, that this piece came out because it's something that… the human costs of the war, whether in lives or in lives shattered by the demons and the PTSD and the conditioning that violence does is not very much spoken of. We very easily become statistics of how many people died and how many more people died in one place and the other. To me, one life lost is one too many. And also I feel like it's… for better or for worse it's just... the reminders are always so humbling of how we all share the same... the devastation. When it comes to war there's so much work to be done, and music and using our bodies in that way can have just profound effects. 

Maggie: Number one, where can listeners hear that recording of Beirut, and number two, tell us where your quintet is performing.

Christiane: Of course. The album came out on January 28. So it's available on all platforms. The single, which is Beirut, I wanted it to come out in 2021, as a depressing tribute. So it came out in December and that video is on YouTube. And we will be performing at the Red Room on April 10 at 8:00 PM.

Maggie: And where is the Red Room? 

Christiane: The Red Room is on Boylston Street. It's one of the Berklee venues. It's the cafe 9 3 9. 

Maggie: The #RevelsConnects the information is there too. This has been wonderful talking with you. As we begin to wrap up, is there anything else you want to share with us that I haven't asked about?

Christiane: I'm just grateful for this time of connection. It was so lovely finding out what you do and knowing more about you. I think what you do is so important because there's so much confusion right now. And sadly, I don't see it getting better from generation to generation. There's so much oblivion and just a dismissal of what one comes from. I deeply feel like you can't possibly know where you're going if you don't know where you come from and you can't possibly lead people into places you haven't been. So I think that more than ever a deep awareness of one's roots, and one's past, one's history, one’s embedded musical traditions is so important. Because it can inform everything and I feel like there's less and less of that. I don't see much integration happening. There's more divide, there's more separation. And so the work that we both do really helps bring this much-needed awareness to our circles and to anybody who's who has a disposition towards evolving in that way and serving in that way. Because at the end of the day, when we go back to the role of music in ancient communities, it was a communal art.

Maggie: I couldn't agree with you more and I want to thank you, Christiane Karam, for joining us today on Musical Connections .

Christiane: Thank you so much, Maggie. Have a wonderful day.