Please join us on Thursday, April 18 at 6 pm for Rahim AlHaj: A Voice for the Voiceless.  Learn about the struggles AlHaj, first a musician and second a political refugee, endured for his convictions.  Don't miss this powerful discussion on the refugee experience brought to us through the Faulkner Performing Arts Center.

Born in Baghdad, AlHaj found that the power and beauty of the stringed instrument, the oud, possessed a unique sound that captivated listeners - conveying joy, suffering, compassion, and determination to listeners everywhere.  Aware of the injustices of the Ba'athist regime, AlHaj joined the underground revolutionary movement and would give voice to the movement by creating an anthem that was sung with seditious relish across the country.  His music fueled the opposition against the Ba'athist regime that oppressed Iraq and his political activities drew the attention of the government, which imprisoned him twice, in 1986 and 1988.  Incarcerated for two years altogether, he was tortured in an unsuccessful attempt to extract information about the movement.  After fleeing Iraq and later Syria, he relocated to the United States as a political refugee.  

Rahim AlHaj:

Virtuoso oud musician and composer Rahim AlHaj 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 of 20th Century, 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. In 2015 Rahim was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor for traditional arts in the USA. Rahim has performed around the globe 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.

The Rahim AlHaj Trio will perform on April 19 at the Faulkner Performing Arts Center.  Click here for information about tickets for that performance.

Photo credit: Michael G. Stewart

If you are unable to attend this event in person, it will be available for viewing and replay via our FPL Livestream page at