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Azerbaijani Music and Food on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Visitors to the world-famous annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., June 27-July 1 and July 4-8, 2012, will experience Azerbaijani cultural traditions presented by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

Throughout the Festival visitors can purchase authentic Azerbaijani food and drink from the Festival's Azerbaijani food tent. And on two consecutive "Azerbaijani Thursdays" -- June 28 and July 5 -- music lovers will enjoy the Festival's concerts of Azerbaijani mugham music by virtuosos Imamyar Hasanov and Pezhham Akhavass in the Justin S. Morrill Performing Arts Center on the National Mall.

The Festival's food tent will afford a "taste" of Azerbaijani's distinctive cuisine, from special Azerbaijani-style dolmas to kebabs. The two evening concerts will steep listeners in the lyrical sounds of mugham music, which has few cultural cognates.

June 28's concert is entitled "Music from the Land of Fire" and features Azerbaijani songs selected to convey the spirit of Azerbaijani folk music. July 5's program, "Undiscovered Treasure: The Kamancha of Azerbaijan," spotlights the ancient stringed instrument that, along with the lute-like tar, lends so much of Azerbaijani music its special lyrical sound.

Accompanying Imamyar Hasanov is percussionist Pezhham Akhavass, modern-day master of the tombak, a Persian goblet drum. Audience members at a recent concert with the pair used descriptions like "dazzling," "almost other-worldly," and "a musical expression of Azerbaijani pride" to convey the performance's impact.


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