The Assyrian Aid Society of America celebrated the 8th Annual Mesopotamian Night concert of Assyrian music on August 1, 2015, again at the beautiful California Theater in San Jose, CA
In the Mesopotamian Night gala tradition, the evening began at 5pm with a reception featuring fine wine and hors d’oeuvres followed by Assyrian-themed performances starting at 7pm. Throughout the evening, a silent and live auction offered an impressive gallery of art works by Assyrian artists. Considered the premiere fundraising event of the Assyrian Aid Society of America, this event has also become the primary medium for advancing and promoting Assyrian arts and culture including music, sculpture, painting and dance.
The program began with a folkloric segment presented through music, song, and dance by internationally known artists under the award-winning artistic direction of Sherene Melania. It showcased Assyrian Village Life with its sparkling traditions and peaceful vivacity, passed from generation to generation through a shared code of ethics, ideals, and a sense of duty and honor. Assyrian Village Life is a simple but powerful love story between a spirited little girl and a devoted young admirer, who grow up together as playmates. They overcome hurdles on their path to love and marriage, through an unforgettable journey of joy, curiosity, passion, and finally and most importantly, love. Featured in Assyrian Village Life, MN is pleased to bring to the stage from Europe, legendary Assyrian recording artist Ninib Lahdo, originally from Syria, known for his stylistic Eastern repertoire. Sharing the stage, Assyrian performing artist, Sherene Melania with a multi-generational cast of dancers, creates the vibrant cultural dances. M. Nejad serves as music director and has assembled a stellar ethnic music ensemble showcasing Assyrian artists, including Special Guest violinist Ms. Mariela Shaker, honored by the USA President Barak Obama at the White House, receiving the prestigious title of becoming 2015’s Champion of Change, from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees(UNHCR). Costumes, for this portion of the program, are created by Assyrian designer Karo Sargizzadeh.
This year, in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of SEYFO and in remembrance of August 7th Assyrian Martyr’s Days, MN presents Badri, an incomplete work by John Alkhas. Mesopotamian Night Founder & Executive Producer Tony Khoshaba, re-discovered this volume of work and commissioned a completed symphonic orchestration and narration written by Rev. Samuel Samuel Khangaldy. Under Fred Elieh’s artistic direction, the MN Choral Ensemble aspires to present Badri, as a fitting memorial to this 100th Anniversary commemoration.
The Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies calls Badri “A piece of masterly prose blended with poetic rhythm.” John Alkhas, notably one of the most creative and distinguished Assyrian writers of classical and modern literature, brilliantly displays an emotional tale of a young Assyrian girl (Badri) and her account of watching her fellow Assyrians who were reduced to refugees after deserting their homes and homeland to escape the tyranny of their tormentors during the First World War. Be prepared to go back in time and relive what our great Assyrian ancestors endured to keep our current Assyrian name and identity.
The program finale featured for the first time on stage together, three of the most distinct Assyrian female voices singing the most inspirational songs of the living legend Ashur Betsargis. Having handpicked the songs himself, Ashur offers his perspective on solidarity, nationalism, and the continuation of hope through his lyrics. He is not only one of the most popular Assyrian singers, but also one of our most brilliant lyricists. In addition, this past year amidst the struggles of our people in Iraq and Syria with ISIS, Ashur made several trips to the home land to give firsthand accounts of the struggle and assist in providing humanitarian aid to those in need. Rachel Sarah Thomas, Jina Kena, and Shamina Khangaldy will take the stage and honor this Assyrian legend accompanied by the Mesopotamian Night Choral Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Kendall Bailey.
Mesopotamian Night performances and brand have achieved significant accomplishments in not only setting the bar for promoting the Assyrian arts, but being the role model for our Humanitarian efforts. This year will be no different.