Video welcome by Ali Jihad Racy
Professor Racy is one of the world's foremost experts on Arab music, credited with studying and documenting numerous musical traditions throughout the Arab world. An accomplished performer on a large variety of instruments, composer, and ethnomusicologist, he has inspired a generation of students and artists in this country and abroad.
Racy was born in Lebanon, where he performed regularly on television and in concerts, while presenting a weekly radio program on world music. Internationally known for his scholarly work, he has conducted field research and is credited with over 75 publications. Topics include the laments of Lebanon, Bedouin music, musical change and sound recording in early-20th century Cairo, improvisation, music of the Arab Gulf region, and folk instruments of the Near East.
At UCLA, Racy teaches seminars on the musical cultures of the Middle East and is the director of the Near EastMusic Ensemble. He has performed in major theaters, including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and has composed and performed music for television, feature and documentary films. Included in his work is the ten-part series, The Arabs, shown on British television and on PBS in the U.S. His music has been released on cassettes and CDs including three Lyrichord albums: a) Ancient Egypt with original compositions, b)Taqâsîm containing improvisation duets with performer Simon Shaheen, and c) Mystical Legacies presenting selections from his L.A. Festival concert with percussionist Souhail Kaspar at the Getty Museum. Racy joined the Kronos Quartet to perform his original composition Zaman Suite in Los Angeles and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York. He also performed on the nây, the buzuq, and the 'ûd with the Sacramento Symphony in his composition, Music from the Arab World: A Sea of Memories, orchestrated by Arthur Barnes of Stanford University. In May 1998 he received a Special Honor at the 4th Festival of Arab World Culture, held at Town Hall, New York.
Selected Publications (1997-1998)
Racy, A. J. (1998). "Music of the Arabian Desert in the Accounts of Early Western Travelers" and "Musiqá al-Badiyah fi Sijillat al-Rahhalah al- Ghardiyyin" (translation by the author), al-Ma'thurat al-Sha'biyyah. Doha, Qatar: The GCC Arab Gulf States Folklore Center.
Racy, A. J. (1998). "Improvisation, Ecstasy, and Performance Dynamics in Arabic Music", in In the Course of Performance. Studies in the World of Musical Improvisation. B. Nettl & M. Russell, editors. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (pp. 95-112.)
Racy, A. J. & Racy, B. T. (1998)."Arab Music and Dance", in International Encyclopedia of Dance. E. Aldrich, editor. New York: Oxford University Press.