WQXR presents Beginner’s Ear, one hour of lunchtime bliss with guided meditation and a live performance by world-class musicians every Friday from January 17 through March 6. Each meditation will feature music from a different artist, to be announced.
Dive into the entrancing sound world of Layale Chaker’s “Inner Rhyme,” a haunting sublimation of Arabic poetry into instrumental music that combines maqam scales with jazzy flights of improvisation and fleeting echoes of the Baroque. Chaker, a Lebanese-born violinist and composer, is joined by her ensemble Sarafand, made up of stylistically polyglot and masterful improvisers. On piano, Phillip Golub, on bass, Nick Dunston, on cello, Jake Charkey, and on percussion, Adam Maalouf.
Beginner’s Ear was created by New York Times contributing critic Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim as a way to dissolve the mental static that so often gets in the way of a clear connection to a musical performance. Each 60-minute session begins with a mindfulness teacher leading participants in a 15-minute guided meditation. Out of the resulting deep stillness, a 30-minute musical performance emerges, unfolds in the space, and recedes back into the rich calm. The event wraps up with a short conversation, moderated by Corinna, about aspects of mindful listening.
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim is a writer, music critic and the founder of Beginner’s Ear. Thomas Droge is an author, teacher, and Chinese medicine practitioner with deep roots in the Daoist tradition, as well as the meditation consultant for Beginner’s Ear.
Deemed a “Rising Star” by BBC Music Magazine and raised on the verge of several musical streams since her childhood, Lebanese violinist and composer Layale Chaker debuted her musical training at the National Higher Conservatory of Beirut in her native Lebanon. She later pursued her musical studies at Conservatoire de Paris and the Royal Academy of Music in London, and is currently working towards her doctoral degree at Ecole des Hautes Etudes in Paris.
“Inner Rhyme,” her debut release with her ensemble Sarafand, was listed as “Top of The World” by Songlines with a 5-star review, Top 10 NPR Best Releases, #1 for several weeks on the World Charts of iTunes and Amazon Music, and received features and praises by the New York Times, The Strad, Strings Magazine, Jazz World, and Rootsworld among others.
Layale has appeared as a soloist, performer, improviser and composer in concerts, recitals and projects around Europe, the Middle-East, North and South America and Asia. She is also a member of Daniel Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan. A Ruth Anderson 2017 Competition Prize winner, she is the recipient of the Royal Academy of Music’s 2018 Guinness Award, a finalist of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé 2018 Prize, the recipient of the Lili et Nadia Boulanger 2019 Prize and of Silkroad’s inaugural 2020 Seeds Award.
Jake Charkey is an acclaimed cellist with a strong background in both Western classical music and Hindustani music. He is also an eclectic improviser, drawing from both eastern and western musical traditions. He is a sought after studio recording artist in the film, television and music industry in both India and the USA with numerous credits for both film and commercials as well as live television appearances. Jake is a disciple of the renowned violinist Padmabhushan Dr. N. Rajam in the rare Gayaki Ang style and is one of the few cellists in the world performing Indian music on the cello.
As a specialist in pantam (handpan), cello, & percussion from around the world, Adam Maalouf’s music is channeled through genre-bending compositions for solo and ensembles. Adam is a disciple of masters of percussion Anindo Chatterjee, Glen Velez, River Guerguerian, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Michael Burritt, Rohan Krishnamurthy, and in 2013 received his BA in Percussion Performance from the Eastman School of Music.
Nick Dunston is a bassist, composer, scholar, and cross-disciplinary collaborator. His performances have spanned a variety of venues across North America and Europe, including Switzerland, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Austria, Denmark, The Czech Republic, Canada, and Italy. He’s performed with artists such as Tyshawn Sorey, Matt Wilson, Jeff Lederer, Amirtha Kidambi, Vijay Iyer, Marc Ribot, Jeff “Tain” Watts, and more. As a composer, he’s written for and collaborated for a wide range of artists, from solo instrumentalists to performance artists. As a writer, he’s contributed monthly to Hot House jazz magazine since 2016. Nick currently studies at The New School and is on track to graduate with a BA degree in Contemporary Music and a BFA degree in Jazz Performance.