Amir ElSaffar to bring blend of jazz, traditional Iraqi music to Lied Center

Share this post or save for later

A performer coming to the Lied Center on Thursday will bring music described as beyond categorization — “a world of its own.”

Amir ElSaffar, a composer, trumpeter, santur player and vocalist, has “been on many musical journeys during his life,” according to a news release from the Lied Center.


“He was a teen prodigy in both jazz and classical trumpet. Then, in his early 20s, he left these forms behind to explore the traditional music of his father’s country, Iraq,” the release continues.

“In Iraq, he learned to sing in the Sufi vocal style of maqam and to play the ancient Arabic percussive instrument, the santur. This music spoke to him deeply, and it changed his musical trajectory. Returning to the United States, Amir created a new musical journey.”

ElSaffar is one of the artists taking part in the Lied Center’s project, Utilizing the Performing Arts to Enhance DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging) Initiatives, funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The project aims to create an adaptable DEIB curriculum “that integrates those concepts, centering on the work of the participating visiting performing artists. Each participating artist will be assisting the curriculum team in the creation of each curriculum,” according to the release.

Through the program, “we can provide deeper experiences between the artists and students through shared conversation, artist-led workshops, and curriculum developed in partnership with the artists, all leading up to experiencing the artist’s live performance,” Anthea Scouffas, the Lied Center’s education and engagement director, said in the release.

ElSaffar is the bandleader of four ensembles, including Two Rivers, a sextet.

“A lot of Two Rivers is about boundaries dissipating and no longer having a sense of clear-cut identities because we find the more we explore and the deeper we dig into anything that the categories, in fact, don’t exist. We are humans, and we are living a shared existence,” ElSaffar said in the release.

Amir ElSaffar and the Two Rivers Ensemble will perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30 at the Lied Center. Tickets are $25 for adults and $14 for students. Learn more at this link.

Get a sneak peek in the video below:

Don’t miss a beat … Click here to sign up for our email newsletters

Check our community calendar for more:

Click here for our calendar of events!
Previous Article

Kansas legislative leaders create special committee to rebuff federal COVID-19 mandates

Next Article

Hearings set for Rontarus Washington Jr. case up to July 2022 retrial