Middle Eastern blues


Southern blacks weren’t the only ones who sang the blues. From the 1920s to the 1950s, Turkish musicians blended classical and folk forms to produce songs about hardship and perseverance that have been called the “Middle Eastern blues.”

No musician did it better than Udi Hrant Kenkulian, a blind Armenian master of the oud, a 12-string fretless lute. His fame further grew through numerous world tours, including stops in the United States, prior to his death in 1978.

Now, on the centennial of his birth, musicologist Richard Hagopian (pictured here with an oud) pays tribute to this legendary musician with a nationwide tour that visits Philly Jan. 19. Joining Hagopian on the oud are Harold Hagopian on violin, Tamer Pinarbasi on kanun, Ara Dinkjian on bass and Chuck Yegian on percussion.


TRIBUTE TO UDI HRANT: 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19, at International House, 3701 Chestnut St. Tickets $20, students/seniors/International House members $18, International Music Series subscribers $17.50. Info: 215-895-6537.


Originally published on January 18, 2001