credit: Tall and Small Photography
Dena El Saffar, is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and recording artist of Iraqi and American heritage, who grew up in a musical and multi-cultural family. She began playing violin at age 6. During a trip to Baghdad, El Saffar became enchanted by the music of Iraq and the Middle East, and took it upon herself to learn how to play Arabic music. El Saffar completed a degree in Viola Performance from the Jacobs School of Music while simultaneously founding the Arabic music group Salaam. Over the years, she has increased her knowledge, studying with a number of Middle Eastern musical masters. She has amassed a huge repertoire of traditional music from Iraq and the Arab World, and brings a unique musical sensibility. She plays the viola, violin, joza and oud. Her latest CD, Train to Basra, features her unique take on Arabic music, and explores musical bridges between cultures.