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Emam and Friends to Open Artists Series
at UW-Eau Claire

RELEASED: Sept. 8, 2005

EmamEAU CLAIRE — Emam and Friends — a "virtual United Nations of an ensemble [that] has created some of the freshest, most entertaining and accessible World Fusion music ever" (Awareness Magazine) — will open the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's Artists Series at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, in Zorn Arena.

The concert will be preceded by a World Music for World Peace season opener celebration on the Central Campus Mall from 6 to 7 p.m. International foods will be sold at the outdoor event, which is sponsored in conjunction with the Student Life and Diversity Commission of the Student Senate.

The deliberately eclectic amalgam of people and musical heritages brought together by Emam combines elements from Indian, Turkish, Macedonian, Spanish and Eastern European folk idioms with jazz, rock and new age music. Emam creates a style of world music that crosses the troubled boundaries of the 21st century, performing with great artists from around the world.

The program will be presented in two sets. The first will feature North Indian classical and devotional music, East European music and original pieces, including one set to Persian sufi poetry. After intermission, the concert will resume with a percussion duet, followed by a Turkish piece and other original pieces showing Persian and Polish influences, and a piece inspired by Tarot card number nine, The Hermit. The full ensemble will close the concert with an Indian devotional melody.

The six artists who will take the Artists Series stage represent many cultures and nationalities.

Habib Khan (sitar) traces his lineage of master musicians back several generations to when Indian classical music enjoyed the patronage of the nobility and royalty of India. He began his training at age five under his father, Ustad Hameed Jaffar, and over the years has carved out a distinct style of his own, blending his father's traditional techniques with his own imaginative style.

American saxophonist George Brooks has performed with such notable musicians as Etta James, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Kronos Quartet, Anthony Braxton, Zakir Hussain and Terry Riley. His original compositions combine elegant melodies with the rich harmonies of modern jazz and the driving rhythms of North India.

Violinist Zoltan Lantos received his degree in classical violin from the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest. Always drawn towards experimental and Eastern music, he studied in India between 1985 and 1994 on a scholarship to study classical Indian music. He returned to Hungary in 1994, where he rediscovered his musical roots and blended them with his knowledge of Eastern music and his experiences in contemporary European jazz.

Gari Hegedus has been performing traditional music from Ireland, Scotland, France, Turkey and the Middle East for the past 20 years. He performs on a wide range of traditional instruments including oud (Middle Eastern lute), violin, Turkish saz, Yayli tambor, Irish pennywhistle, mando-cello and flute. In addition to his collaborations on traditional music, he has also performed medieval music, contemporary folk music and pop.

Hamed Nikpay (vocals, setaar and daf) learned to sing at the age of seven, encouraged by his mother, who loved Persian music and poetry. He has performed with some of the most celebrated musicians in Iran and has recorded his own brand of music, which combines the best of Persian classical and folk music, infused with music from around the world. His recent work includes a performance with the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Majeed Derakhshanee.

Emam was trained in North Indian classical drumming by the grand masters of tabla, Ustad Alla Rakha and Ustad Zakir Hussain. He also studied the Delhi Gharana of Tabla with the late Ustad Inam Ali Khan and his son Gholam Haidar. In 1991, he was awarded a scholarship for study in India by the American Institute of Indian Studies with funding from the Smithsonian Institute. Over the past 25 years, Emam has performed with many great artists from around the world and has added many recordings to the annals of world fusion music.

Tickets are $15 for the public, $13 for those 62 and older and UW System or Chippewa Valley Technical College faculty and staff, and $5 for those 17 and younger and UW System or CVTC students.

Patrons may also charge their tickets to MasterCard or Visa when they order by phone. Call (715) 836-3727 — or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free (800) 949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.

The Artists Series is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin. Wisconsin Public Radio and Community Television have contributed generous promotional support. Best Western Trail Lodge Hotel & Suites (715-838-9989) at 3340 Mondovi Road is the exclusive accommodations partner for the Artists Series.

Funded by the students of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the Artists Series is administered by the Activities and Programs office.

-30-

JS/NW

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