A spectacular – and somewhat unconventional - performer is coming to the Monticello Opera House. He’s a master of blending Middle Eastern and Western beats into what’s been described as a “blizzard of sound.”
The performer is Karim Nagi. He’s a native of Egypt and is, not only a drummer, but also a composer, folk dancer and D-J. He’s released four internationally acclaimed CDs featuring his unique approach to rhythm. And he’ll be at the Monticello Opera House this Friday (11/10).
“In this concert people will see traditional and modern Arabic dance and music that I’ll perform and the Egyptian drumming that will delight a lot of people. They’ll related to it, but the rhythms will be different,” Nagi said, explaining that most Western music – especially today’s popular music – is based on a count of four. Whereas Middle Eastern music is based on a wide variety of counts with different drum sounds coming in at different points of the beat.
Nagi added these beats don’t just keep repeating themselves like a metronome and there are plenty of places where the drummer can just take off on rhythmic flights of fancy.
“There’s a lot of spontaneity in the decoration, so even though I have a traditional pattern, I’m going to improvise on how I’m going to deliver each phrase of the rhythm.”
A core tenant of Nagi’s musical approach is that everyone is connected to rhythm by the very fact they have a heartbeat.
“At the surface level it will seem unfamiliar to people, but my goal is to make it familiar through exposure and to make them see where their own innate rhythm connects to it.”
Nagi also isn’t shy about going far beyond the traditional Middle Eastern rhythms to incorporate modern Western beats from genres like hip-hop and electronica music.
“Yeah, I think they’ve been exposed to it somehow, either in a traditional form or in some kind of modern electronic form.”
Nagi said Friday would feature more than simply music.
“The actual concert is at 8:00 p.m. for the actual performance. And they have a dinner and entertainment before that.”
He also expressed delight at the opportunity to express his art in one of the area’s oldest and best-sounding performance spaces.
“I’m very, very happy to come to the Monticello Opera House and do my dancing music performance for the first time in that region in such a prestigious place. I’ve very grateful and excited.”