The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia has been presenting a series of concerts that travel the continents, sampling the wanderings of Western classical music and the cultures that have interacted with it. The guest soloists have been virtuosos who play instruments such as the African kora and the Chinese pipa. The season finale will visit the Middle East and the solo instrument will be—what else?—the oud. The multicultural soloist will be Simon Shaheen, a Palestinian-American Catholic Arab who started playing the oud and the violin when he was a child and studied music performance and Arab literature in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Shaheen will play his own Fantasie for Strings and Oud and present an unaccompanied solo interlude on his instrument. The other items on the program include the overture to the opera La Calife de Bagdad by French composer François-Adrien Boieldieu and Mozart’s “Linz” symphony.
The last concert in the series featured the premiere of a surprising, inventive concerto for electric guitar by the Chamber Orchestra’s composer in residence, Andrea Clearfield. Her contribution to this event will be a chamber-orchestra arrangement of a piece heavily influenced by Middle Eastern idioms—the rhythmic, fast-paced “Bachanalle” from Saint-Saëns’s opera Samson and Delilah.
The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia will present Migrations: The Middle East on Sunday, May 19, at 2:30pm and Monday, May 20, at 7:30pm at the Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, 300 South Broad Street. Tickets range from $39.10 to $78.50 and they’re available at online and at the door.