Musical group Wahid performs Middle-Eastern melodies at Pierce

Dimitris Mahlis and Chris Wabich, better known as the duo Wahid, performed for an audience of more than 100 people in the music recital room on Thursday, May 1, providing a variety of original Middle Eastern melodies using an oud and frame drum.

The two-man group has been collaborating for 15 years, using their ancient instruments to convey the styles of Greek, Persian and Arabic tradition and culture with their own contemporary sound.

Music Adjunct James Bergman was delighted to have the revered group perform at this week’s concert, noting that the group brings their own type of diverse and particular sound which sticks to its roots while bringing their own signature elegance.

“Today, we have something a little different. Wahid’s music is Middle Eastern based,” Bergman said. “It’s a mix of a lot of different styles.”

With Mahlis on the oud and Wabich manning the frame drum, Wahid’s style of music can be compared to that of music played in the courts of Arabic and Egyptian royalty for sultans and pharaohs, or the laid-back olden compositions born of tradition from Middle Eastern cultures.

Percussionist Wabich has recorded music with the likes of Sheila E., Ludacris, and Sting, just to name a few, and is well-known for his dramatic flair displayed through his precise hand speed and amazing dexterity.

“Today, I will be playing the frame set, one of the oldest drum sets to exist,” Wabich said. “It’s tuned to a certain pitch unlike other drum sets. The sound is unique to our style.”

Playing five original songs, “Looking for Paradisi,” “Alexander’s Regret,” “Sunlight,” “Protofolia” and “Airlift,” Mahlis described why he decided to play these specific songs for the audience.

“These are the pieces we’ve been touring with,” Mahlis said. “These specific pieces take the listener on a journey.”

With multiple pedals connected to an amplifier, Mahlis uses both the manipulation of instrument and technology to create a sound that’s signature to Middle Eastern music.

Wabich’s drumming completed Mahlis’ style of extreme-paced groves with electric tempos, sometimes playing with both hands, or using only one drum stick for accented cymbal notes while simultaneously using his free hand to traverse the rest of his framed drum set.

Using a modified version of the original frame drums, Wabich explained how his instrument has transformed over the years due to advances in resource from universal use.

“The early Frame drums were made with rope and animal skin,” Wabich said. “They’re very nontraditional when compared to their original structures.”

For a deeper look into Wahid’s music and philosophies, visit www.WahidMusic.com where visitors can listen and purchase Wahid’s music.

At next week’s Concert at Pierce event, violinist Ji Young An will be in the music recital room to perform Thursday, May 8.