Troy Savings Bank Music Hall to Host Amir ElSaffar’s Rivers of Sound Orchestra

TROY, NEW YORK     The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall Corporation presents a multi-cultural celebration of sound with Amir ElSaffar’s Rivers of Sound Orchestra!


Amir ElSaffar’s Rivers of Sound Orchestra

Thursday, April 23, 2020, 7:30 PM, Tickets:  $30

“Amir ElSaffar is uniquely poised to reconcile jazz and Arabic music without doing either harm… ElSaffar’s music [is] the result of engagement across the board, presented with clarity and eloquence.” – The Wire

An expansion of Two Rivers, a six piece ensemble started by trumpeter Amir ElSaffar in 2006, Rivers of Sound presents 17 musicians from a broad spectrum of traditions playing on a range of instruments, including the Middle Eastern oud, buzuq, santur (hammered dulcimer), jowza (spike fiddle), and percussion, arrayed with the piano, bass and drums of the American jazz tradition, along with trumpet, saxophones, oboe, strings, and voice. The modal language of the maqam combines with the aesthetics of contemporary music and jazz to create a new musical vocabulary. The unifying principle of this composition, exploration of pure resonance, allows the assembled musicians to explore and experiment together along a continuum of sound encompassing timbre, harmony, pitch and rhythm.

The transcendence of the tonal traditions is achieved by music composed within a microtonal realm where pitch is flexible, neither beholden to western equal temperament, nor to the tonal centers of eastern modes, toward a sound that is unprecedented yet timeless. Pitches are relocated into a unique harmonic language where overtones, undertones and difference tones can interact while maintaining discernable aspects of the cultural DNA from which they arise. The ensemble’s broad spectrum of instruments provides a distinct palate of overtones and timbres, allowing for the emergence of unique sonorities and encouraging nuanced interactions among the musicians. Each individual sound rises to meet its neighbors, blending to form a novel sovereign harmonic plurality. Concurrently, traditional and contemporary rhythmic languages are pared down to basic elements and reconstructed, interlocking in shared pulses and creating a communion among players and audience.

The highest ideal in maqam music is to reach a state of tarab, or “musical ecstasy,” which results from the melting away of borders between a notion of self and other, as performers and audience revel together in the music. As pitches and rhythms become fluid, so do cultural boundaries: elements that traditionally divide musicians and genre specific modes are re-contextualized in a fresh transcultural soundscape.

Tickets are available to Music Hall Members today, Tuesday, January 7, 2020 via phone, (518) 273-0038, in person, or online at  Anyone can become a member and get early access.  Tickets are available to the general public on Thursday, January 9, at 10 AM.  The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall Box Office is located at 30 Second Street in downtown Troy, and is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.  More information on the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall and upcoming programs is available on the website at

The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall has hosted performances by legions of world-renowned artists, from legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Isaac Stern, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Vladimir Horowitz, to the best on today’s contemporary music scene, including Joshua Bell, Andrew Bird, Steve Martin, Lyle Lovett, John Prine, and many others.

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