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Two Tenors of Arabic Music Play Las Vegas

In Las Vegas in the year 2000, two legends of Arabic art music performed an historic concert. Wadi’ Al-Safi was called “the pure voice of Lebanon” because for decades he had brought the folkloric songs of the Lebanese countryside to the Lebanese airwaves and the grandest stages of the world. Sabah Fakhri, then one of the most celebrated and beloved singers of Syria, powerfully channeled the ecstatic Sufi art music of Aleppo in performances that riveted audiences throughout the region. Soon would come 9/11, rearranging American perceptions of the world; Syria, and especially Aleppo, would be devastated by war a decade later; and Al-Safi would die at 91 in 2013. All the more reason why this brilliant concert, under the musical direction of Simon Shaheen, who also performs with his group Qantara, deserves a fresh listen.

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