Amir ElSaffar and Two Rivers Ensemble to perform at Eisenhower Auditorium April 4

Ticketed concert and free community jam to introduce art of Iraqi maqam


Global jazz fusion enhanced by sounds of the Middle East will be the musical flavor of the night with a performance by Amir ElSaffar and the Two Rivers Ensemble. The concert will feature vocals by Hamid Al-Saadi, the world’s foremost singer of Iraqi maqam.

The artists will perform at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 4, in Eisenhower Auditorium.

Tickets are $42 for an adult, $5 for a University Park student, and $26 for a person 18 and younger and are available for purchase online. Tickets are also available by calling 814-863-0255 or in person, weekdays from 10 a.m.–4 p.m., at Eisenhower Auditorium.

Visit Amir ElSaffar online for more information.

ElSaffar, a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and composer, specializes in technical and diverse arrangements. The Two Rivers Ensemble’s jazz and Middle East musicians blend the Arabic maqam melodic musical style with elements of the American jazz idiom. They demonstrate an ease and cohesion in spite of the musical complexity.

“The band navigates ElSaffar’s still-fresh fusion of jazz and maqam with such masterful technical power and vivid lyrical imagination that you almost immediately forget to be engrossed by the novelty of the sound,” wrote a reviewer for The Chicago Reader.

ElSaffar, a son of an Iraqi immigrant, studied classical music at DePaul University in Chicago. He studied maqam and learned to play the stringed instrument in Baghdad. He has performed with Samir Chatterjee, Cecil Taylor, Rudresh Manhanthappa, Randy Brecker and others. He also wrote and appeared in the Oscar Award-nominated film “Rachel Getting Married.”

Maqam is recognized by the United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organization as an “intangible cultural heritage of humanity” that is passed down from generation to generation. Al-Saadi is one of the last known artists to practice and preserve the poetic Iraqi style of spiritual singing.

Watch a preview of Amir ElSaffar and Two Rivers Ensemble.

Pre-Performance Discussion

An informal moderated discussion will be offered one hour before the April 4 concert and is free for ticket holders. Seating for the pre-performance talk is available on a first-arrival basis.

Community Jam Session

Join Amir ElSaffar for some hang time and music making at a Community Jam Session. The free event will be at 7 p.m. Monday, April 3, at 3 Dots Downtown, 137 E. Beaver Ave., State College. Participants are welcome to bring an instrument to play.


Patricia Best and Thomas Ray plus Charlotte Zmyslo sponsor the April 4 performance.

The Center for the Performing Arts and 3 Dots Downtown present the April 3 Community Jam Session.

A grant from the University Park Student Fee Board makes Penn State student prices possible.

Find the Center for the Performing Arts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.