Flushing Town Hall’s mini-global mashup series presents ‘India Meets Egypt’ concert

Flushing Town Hall
Indian singer-songwriter Falu (l.) and Arabic violinist and vocalist Sami Abu Shumays will perform at Flushing Town Hall’s Global Mini-Mashup Series on Sunday, March 13. (Photo courtesy of Flushing Town Hall)

One of Flushing Town Hall’s most popular series, Common Ground: Mini-Global Mashups, is returning on Sunday, March 13, at 1 p.m. with a live presentation of “India Meets Egypt,” as two solo musicians of different practices and cultural identities perform together in a unique pairing. 

The concert blends the music of Indian singer-songwriter Falu with the Arabic tunes of violinist, vocalist and rababa player Sami Abu Shumays. They will be accompanied by vocalist Gaurav Shah, who also plays the harmonium.

Acclaimed trumpeter and composer Frank London of The Klezmatics, who has performed in Flushing Town Hall’s original, large-scale global mashups series, is the curator for the 2022 season of mini mashups.

“In ancient times, India and Egypt were connected along the Maritime Silk Road, learning from and influencing each other’s cultures. Today, India and Egypt are strongly represented in Queens,” said Flushing Town Hall Executive and Artistic Director Ellen Kodadek. “We’re excited to mash up and explore these two rich and vibrant cultures through music, and also showcase the incredible talents of our very own Deputy Director Sami Abu Shumays.”

Falu is a two-time Grammy-nominated artist for her children’s albums “Falu’s Bazaar” and “A Colorful World.” She is internationally recognized for her rare ability to seamlessly blend a modern, inventive style with a formidable vocal talent shaped by Indian classical tradition. Born in Mumbai and now a New York resident, her career in the United States has included a series of brilliant and high-profile collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma, Wyclef Jean, Philip Glass, Ricky Martin, Blues Traveler and A. R. Rahman, among others.

Shah has a passion for Indian classical music and has toured extensively with his wife Falu including performances at Carnegie Hall and on National Geographic TV, and was a featured songwriter in the Smithsonian. 

When not performing on stage, the Harvard graduate serves as CEO and president of Rocket Pharma, a biotechnology company focused on developing first-in-class gene therapy options for rare, devastating diseases. Shah and Falu are the proud parents of an 8-year-old son, who had his debut at Carnegie Hall at the age of 5.

Shumays is an Arabic violinist, vocalist and rababa player, co-founder and musical director of the Arab music and dance ensemble Zikrayat (the name means “memories” in Arabic).

Inspired by the “Golden Age” of Egyptian Cinema (the 1940s-60s), the group presents exciting dance numbers alongside classical Tarab repertory. Shumays is also a teacher and scholar of Arabic music and maqam, the system of melodic modes used in traditional Arabic music, which is mainly melodic. His field of expertise is in the Egyptian and Syrian music traditions, and he co-authored the bookInside Arabic Music: Arabic Maqam Performance and Theory in the 20th Century,” which is a landmark piece of literature for students of Arabic music and essential for anyone who wants to learn more about Arabic music. 

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Sami is a second-generation Palestinian-American immigrant, who studied Western classical music, piano, violin and composition as a boy, and as an undergraduate at Harvard University. Shumays also happens to serve as deputy director of Flushing Town Hall.

“I am overjoyed to be sharing a stage with the talented Falu,” said Shumays, who will be playing the second set of the Global Mashup on the same stage that afternoon. “She and I have been friends for years, and she occasionally invites me to perform with her even though I play a totally different kind of music. Falu is an incredibly generous collaborator, and every time I get the chance to work with her we both learn something new.”

The mini-global mashup performance will be followed by a Q&A conversation between the artists and audience.

In-person tickets are $15 for nonmembers and $12 for members. Those unable to attend in person can view the livestream for free on Flushing Town Hall’s YouTube page. Donations are encouraged. For the mini-global mashup series’ full schedule and to purchase tickets, click here, or call 718-463-7700 ext. 222.