The University of Iowa
Rahim AlHaj
© Michael G. Stewart

Rahim AlHaj and the Kontras Quartet with Christopher Polen (bass)

Letters From Iraq

Presented by
ADULT: $35 | $25 | $20
YOUTH: $17 | $10
Saturday, February 16, 2019, 7:30 pm

Part of Embracing Complexity

Born in Baghdad, Rahim AlHaj is a master of the oud—a stringed instrument with a history unfurling back 5,000 years. Music has been a constant in his life throughout his years as an Iraqi, a political refugee, and now an American citizen. In this performance, AlHaj and the Kontras Quartet with Christopher Polen (bass) will play his composition created from the text of actual letters—letters expressing the emotions of Iraqis living in their war-torn country—transposed into eight gripping compositions.


Event Sponsors:
Little Village


This presentation is supported by the Arts Midwest Touring Fund, a program of Arts Midwest that is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional contributions from the Iowa Arts Council and the Crane Group.


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Haunting oud music perfect complement to "Letters from Iraq"
Iowa City Press Citizen - Thursday, February 14, 2019
Iraqi-American political refugee and musician/composer Rahim AlHaj is one of the finest oud players in the world. AlHaj started playing the oud (pronounced like food, a pear-shaped, lute-type fretless stringed instrument) at 9-years-old in his war-torn homeland. The trance-like instrument captivated him when a school teacher first introduced it to him. AlHaj went on to study under two of the world’s best oud players at the Institute of Music in Baghdad, graduating with numerous awards. On Saturday, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m., AlHaj will be bringing his oud, Arabian percussion and a string quartet to Hancher Auditorium to play songs from his stirring new album “Letters from Iraq” (Released in April 2017 via Smithsonian Folkways). The eight gripping tracks are intricate musical interpretations from actual handwritten letters by citizens of Iraq.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Hancher in advance at (319) 335-1160.