Rahim AlHaj & Little Earth Orchestra

Rahim AlHaj & Little Earth Orchestra

 Placitas, New Mexico, USA

"Unique combination of traditional & innovative performance techniques. Alhaj's spontaneous inventions are constantly fascinating” LA Times. Grammy-nominated Iraqi oud master/composer; Renowned proponent of the Iraqi School of Oud; combines trad Iraqi maqams w/contemporary styling & influences


Rahim AlHaj, virtuoso oud musician and composer, was born in Baghdad, Iraq and began playing the oud (the grandfather of all stringed instruments) at age nine. Early on, it was evident that he had a remarkable talent for playing the oud. Mr. Alhaj studied under the renowned Munir Bashir, considered by many to be the greatest oud player ever, and Salim Abdul Kareem, at the Institute of Music in Baghdad, Iraq. Mr. AlHaj won various awards at the Conservatory and graduated in 1990 with a diploma in composition. He holds a degree in Arabic Literature from Mustunsariya University in Baghdad. In 1991, after the first Gulf War, Mr. AlHaj was forced to leave Iraq due to his activism against the Saddam Hussein regime and began his life in Jordan and Syria. He moved to the US in 2000 as a political refugee and has resided in Albuquerque, NM ever since.  Rahim became a US citizen on August 15, 2008.

Rahim is available in a variety of configurations including solo, with Middle Eastern percussion, with string quartet and with his compelling and irresistible LITTLE EARTH ORCHESTRA.  Little Earth is a septet that features around Rahims oud Middle Eastern percussionist, two violins, viola, cello, and acoustic bass.  Little Earth is a vehicle that brings Rahims artistic vision to the next level.   Rahim can also perform with local string quartets.   Also available: Rahim AlHaj & Ancient Sounds, featuring sarod protges Amaan & Ayaan Ali Khan.

Rahim has performed around the world and is considered one of the finest oud players in the world.  He has won many accolades and awards including two Grammy nominations.  Rahim has recorded and performed with other master musicians of varied backgrounds and styles including genre-busting American guitarist Bill Frisell, modern accordion innovator Guy Klucevsek, Indian sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan and indy-rock pioneers REM.  He has composed pieces for solo oud, string quartet, symphony and beyond.  Rahims music delicately combines traditional Iraqi maqams with contemporary styling and influence. His compositions evoke the experience of exile from his homeland and of new beginnings in his adopted country. His pieces establish new concepts without altering the foundation of the traditional Iraqi School of Oud.

Rahim has released nine CDs. Little Earth was released on September 2010 to remarkable reviews. The two-CD project features Rahims original composition in collaboration with the likes of Frisell, Klucevsek, Peter Buck (REM), Maria De Barros, Liu Fang, Robert Mirabal, Hossein Omoumi, Santa Fe Guitar Quartet, Yacouba Sissoko, Stephen Kent, and many more including, of course, Little Earth Orchestra.  His March 2009 release, Ancient Sounds (UR Music), a duet recording with Indian sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan, was nominated for a 2010 Grammy in the Best Traditional World Music Recording category. In November of 2009 he released a special recording Under The Rose with Ottmar Liebert, Jon Gagan and Barrett Martin, with all net proceeds benefitting Direct Aid Iraq. Home Again (UR Music, 2008), is a tour de force of touching and evocative original compositions portraying his trip to Iraq after 13 years in exile.  When the Soul is Settled: Music of Iraq (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings) was also nominated for a Grammy in 2008.  His earlier recordings include Friendship: Oud and Sadaqa String Quartet (2005), a unique East and West musical collaboration, The Second Baghdad (2002) and the live CD Iraqi Music in a Time of War, (2003).  Rahim is featured in the 2009 documentary film on Smithsonian Folkways Records . Capping off an artistically fruitful 2009, Rahim was awarded the prestigious US Artist Ford Fellowship Grant on December 14th.     Rahims latest release Journey, is a retrospective of his music up until the present, including a new track.  www.rahimalhaj.com


Ancient Sounds - Rahim AlHaj & Amjad Ali Khan (2009)
Home Again - Rahim Alhaj (2008)
When The Soul Is Settled : Music Of Iraq - Rahim Alhaj (2007)
Friendship - Rahim AlHaj & Sadaga Quartet (2005)
Iraqi Music In A Time of War - Rahim Alhaj (2003)
The Second Baghdad - Rahim AlHaj (2002)

Set List

The set list is fluid and features original compositions and traditional Iraqi pieces highlighted by improvisation.