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Karim Nagi joins the new UGA Middle East Music Ensemble in first concert

Karim Nagi with students
Karim Nagi (center, bottom row) with Hugh Hodgson School of Music students as well as UGA Faculty Jason Aryeh (Lecturer of Dance, second from left back row); Jean Kidula (Professor of Music (Ethnomusicology) Musicology & Ethnomusicology Area Chair, third from left, back row); and Jared Holton (Lecturer (Musicology) far right, back row).

The University of Georgia Hugh Hodgson School of Music presented the inaugural concert of the UGA Middle East Music Ensemble on Monday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. This celebration of Middle Eastern music and cultures featured guest artist Karim Nagi and was directed by UGA Musicology and Ethnomusicology Lecturer Jared Holton. The concert was held in Ramsey Concert Hall at the UGA Performing Arts Center, 230 River Road, Athens, GA 30602. As part of Nagi’s visit to UGA, he led a “Middle Eastern Rhythm and Dance Workshop” in collaboration with both the School of Music and the UGA Department of Dance earlier that morning in Memorial Hall. 

The creation of the UGA Middle East Music Ensemble this year is part of a continuing effort by the Hugh Hodgson School of Music to include the study of and access to an inclusive variety of music as a regular part of the music curriculum.

Ensemble director Holton holds a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of California in Santa Barbara (2022). As a pianist, vocalist, and Arabic ‘ud (lute) performer, he approaches teaching and research as a musician. “It was important to me to expose the UGA students to music that may have been outside their experience,” said Holton, “ and it also gives our Middle Eastern students a chance for their music to take center stage in a way it hasn’t always had the opportunity to be featured.”

Guest artist Karim Nagi is a native Egyptian immigrant to the USA, and a true crossover artist uniting the Arab tradition with the global contemporary world. He has released fourteen CDs, ranging from traditional Arab music to fusion and electronica. He has authored instructional videos for Arab percussive instruments and Arab dance styles. As a dance and drum teacher, Nagi has taught in dozens of festivals in the United States, Asia, Europe and Cairo, as well as most major Arab Culture festivals in the USA. He is also a public speaker with a TEDx talk.

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