Uzbek Music: ‘Shashmaqam Forever’

A music festival featuring Shahsmaqam, Central Asian classical music that originated in the Bukhara Emir’s royal court, will be held on Monday Feb. 5 at the Center for Jewish History on West 16th St. The concert will honor and is dedicated to the late Uzbek composer, performer and educator Yunus Rajabiy, who worked to promote the unique musical heritage of his homeland. Sergey Kadinsky writes about the event, the Fourth Annual Shashmaqam Forever, in the Bukharian Times:

The festival was first conceived by Bukharian Times Editor-in-Chief Rafael Nektalov and philanthropist David Mavashev, with the first festival taking place at Carnegie Hall. “Shashmaqam brings the Jews and Muslims of Central Asia tougher. It is an example of our common heritage, said Neklatov.

Rajabiy was born in Tashkent in 1897 “to parents who were not musicians but deeply appreciative of culture, teaching him poetry, music, folklore and the Quran at home from a young age,” writes Kadinsky. Rajabiy first studied the dutar, a long-necked two string lute.  He eventually joined the People’s Conservatory in Tashkent, and made more than a thousand recordings of Shashmaqam. He died in 1976.

The music, notes the Bukharian Times, is “a proud part of Bukharian Jewish history, as many of the emirate’s court musicians and singers were Jews, a rare opportunity to work outside the mahalla, or designated Jewish ghetto.”

Rajabiy’s home in Tashkent was located in the Jewish neighborhood, the paper writes, and he counted many Bukharian Jews among his friends and collaborators. Go to Bukharian Times to learn more about Shashmaqam, the Feb. 5 concert, and a symposium on the music that will be held the day before the concert at the Bukharian Jewish Community Center in Forest Hills.

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