Cross-cultural-continental exchange.

Five-time Grammy-nominated American jazz musician John Beasley and internationally renowned Emirati classical composer Ihab Darwish make music across continents, from their home studios, in the time of coronavirus with technology.

Join Beasley and Darwish for a virtual, transcontinental and intercultural exchange where they speak about collaborating for the first time; finding modes to work together when they can’t be together; and how they fuse musical traditions and learn new vocabularies to create new music.

Audiences are invited to interact with the musicians in real-time from wherever in the world they are. Join this intercultural conversation, moderated by The Arts Center’s Bill Bragin, that also speaks to re-imagining community through technology despite the distance of geography.



John Beasley: GRAMMY® + Emmy Award-nominated Pianist, Composer, Arranger. In the course of three decades, Mack Avenue recording artist John Beasley has carved an enviable reputation – or actually, two reputations. First and foremost, he is an uncommonly versatile, unerringly exciting pianist who has performed with such music icons as Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard – playing in the bands of both these trumpet legends while still in his 20s – as well as with Dianne Reeves, Steely Dan, Chaka Khan, Kenny Garrett, Christian McBride (and even, for one night, with James Brown).

Beasley is also an accomplished composer and a distinctive arranger who works regularly in film and television, earning five GRAMMY nominations and an Emmy nod along the way. He has worked extensively on soundtracks, primarily for 30 years of famed film composer Thomas Newman, including the James Bond hits Spectre and Skyfall, Finding Nemo and Finding Dory, and the upcoming 1917.

Beasley’s arranging skills find no better showcase than on the albums MONK’estra (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), each of which received two GRAMMY nominations. His next album showcasing his original compositions will be released in May 2020. MONK’estra has toured in more than 60 global stages, and for the first time, his quartet will perform in the Middle East, in the UAE in March 2020.
Beasley continues to balance a multi-faceted career that includes radio host for a show on arranging called “Flipped” on SiriusXM Real Jazz; producing albums with Weather Report’s drummer Peter Erskine; a Fado jazz project with Maria Mendes and the Metropole Orchestra, several CDs with legendary guitarist Lee Ritenour, among others. He is Guest Arranger and Conductor for several European big bands featuring vocalists: Jazzmeia Horn, Jose James, Somi, and Ruthie Foster, along with upcoming Tributes to Chick Corea and Duke Ellington.
In 2011, UNESCO designated April 30 as International Jazz Day to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe. Beasley was handpicked to be the Music Director for the gala concerts hosted by the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz (formally called the Thelonious Monk Institute). The inaugural concert was in Paris and has since been in Instanbul, Osaka, St Petersburg, Melbourne, Havana, Washington, DC. In 2020, it will be held in Cape Town. The 2016 gala was hosted by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. It was broadcast on ABC-TV, earning Beasley an Emmy nomination for Best Musical Direction.

Ihab Darwish is an Emirati classical composer. He received his Bachelors in Advertising and Art Design from the Lebanese American University in Beirut. In 2017 Darwish’s music was performed by the world renowned Beethoven Academy Orchestra in Poland, and recorded at the state of the art Alvernia Studios. His first album Waves of My Life was launched in early 2018 and distributed across international digital music platforms by Universal Music MENA. Darwish’s music combines classical and contemporary styles, tradition and modernity, big patriotic themes with intimate and personal pieces. His music is strongly embedded in Emirati values and traditions and addresses a number of themes including the hero of UAE Nation Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Renaissance, the vital role of women in societies, self-improvement, and humanity.

In March 2018, Ihab Darwish received the title of “First Guest Composer” of the Beethoven Academy Orchestra and he was invited to join as The Ambassador of the Euro Mediterranean Music Academy – EMMA for Peace. Darwish composed music to the award-winning short documentary “She” (2018) directed by Philip Jamal Rashid. Darwish has collaborated with the UAE Ministry of Education on the historical theatrical performance “Voice Of Tolerance” produced by legendary Dragone and performed at La Perle in Dubai. Darwish at the invitation of the UAE Government was one of the main composers of the official UAE 48th National Day Celebration show “Legacy Of Our Ancestors”. His music was recorded by the world-class The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London. Ihab Darwish is working on the 2nd album in cooperation with Emirati musicians and talents.