Coast to Coast: Cultural Connections From Al Andalus to Los Angeles

Sunday, June 20, 2021 - 7:00pm
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Free but register in advance

Syrian-American Rapper and Poet Omar Offendum & Palestinian American Multi-Instrumentalist maestro Ronnie Malley weave stories of the past, present and future as they trace the influence of Al Andalus and Arabic-speaking peoples on music and culture from New York City’s Little Syria to the birth of California Surf Rock.

An unmissable virtual celebration to kickoff the Summer Institute for Teachers 2021!


Ronnie Malley is a multi-instrumentalist musician, actor, composer, sound designer, producer, playwright, and educator. Recent theatre credits include: THE BAND’S VISIT actor/musician/Arabic dialect coach (Broadway, Tony Awards, Grammy Award), AMERICAN GRIOT co-author/composer (Moraine Valley/Silk Road; Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Citizen Artist Award 2020), MACBETH Hecate/musician (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre; Jeff Award for Best Sound Design), GREAT EXPECTATIONS composer/sound designer (Silk Road Rising/Remy Bumppo; Jeff nominated for Best Original Music), A DISAPPEARING NUMBER musician (Timeline Theatre), ZIRYAB, THE SONGBIRD OF ANDALUSIA author/solo performer (Silk Road Rising), THE SECRET GARDEN musician (Court Theatre), THE JUNGLE BOOK musician/consultant (Disney, Goodman, Huntington), THE WHITE SNAKE co-composer/musician (Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Goodman, Guthrie, Wuzhen Theatre Fest), THE WHO AND THE WHAT composer/co-sound designer (Victory Gardens), THE SULTAN”S DILEMMA associate producer/actor (International Voices Project), and THE ARABIAN NIGHTS musician/actor (Lookingglass, Berkeley Rep, Arena Stage). Recent music producer credits include: Lamajamal, Surabhi Ensemble, East Meets Middle East, Aurad Fathiya, Saazuk Safar, The Andalusian Trail (staged production), Yves Francois and Rocambu Jazz, and The Reminders. Recent film music credits include: At the Gate (Virginia Keller), Modou: The Hang Player (FTS Production), Jon and Davy (Hassan Amejal), and the awardwinning
short film, The New Mother (Eleva Singleton). Ronnie has a degree in Global Music Studies from DePaul University and is a teaching artist with Chicago Public Schools and Global Voices Initiative, a faculty member at Old Town School of Folk Music, an artist researcher with Chicago Arts Partnership in Education, and a guest lecturer at universities. He is an international artist and has performed with the music groups Allos Musica, Apollo’s Fire, Diwan Al-Han, EMME, Lamajamal, Mucca Pazza, Newberry Consort, Surabhi Ensemble, and the U of C Middle East Music Ensemble.

Omar Offendum is a Syrian-American rapper / spoken word artist. Known for his unique blend of Hip-Hop & Arabic poetry, he’s been featured on prominent world news outlets, lectured at a number of prestigious academic institutions, collaborated with major museums & cultural organizations, and helped raise millions of dollars for various humanitarian relief groups. Offendum was recently named a Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow, as well as a member of both the Pillars Fund cohort for Muslim narrative change & the RaceForward Butterfly Lab cohort for immigrant narrative strategy.

The event is curated by Asad Ali Jafri. Asad Ali Jafri is a cultural producer, community organizer and interdisciplinary artist with a creative vision for sustainable social change. As an innovative thinker, Asad utilizes the universal language of art to connect communities, cultures and people to transform interactions, perceptions, and collective consciousness. Since 2001, Asad has worked passionately with artists, creatives, and thought leaders across nations, disciplines, and genres to curate meaningful productions, design sustainable initiatives, and build strong communities. Currently Asad is based in Chicago as Executive Director of South Asia Institute.