Rahim AlHaj in Harrisonburg

Rahim AlHaj performs at Court Square Theater.
(Pat Jarrett/VFH Staff)

The Virginia Folklife Program hosted Rahim AlHaj for a two-day residency in Harrisonburg, Virginia. A small city in the rural Shenandoah Valley, Harrisonburg is surprisingly diverse, and has recently embraced many regugee and immigrant populations. There are particularly large Iraqi and Kurdish populations, with Arabic now being the second most spoken language in the public schools. Rahim performed to a packed house at the historic Court Square Theater, and met and jammed with local Iraqi musicians, as well as bluegrass masters Nate Leath and Jared Pool. Rahim spoke and performed for students at the diverse student bodies of Spotswood Elementary and Thomas Harrison and Skyline Middle Schools. We’d like to thank our friends Gabe Huck and Theresa Kubasak, authors of Never Will I Write About Damascus, to help organize the events and connect us with the Iraqi and Kurdish communities in Harrisonburg, as well as the Al Sultan restaurant and the Vine and Fig Community for hosting these special events.

Rahim AlHaj performs at Court Square Theater with Jared Pool and Nate Leath.
(Pat Jarrett/VFH Staff)
From left, Rahim AlHaj, Osman Ahmed and Nate Leath tune up before jamming at Al Sultan restaurant.
(Pat Jarrett/VFH Staff)
From left Jared Pool, Osman Ahmed, Nate Leath and Rahim AlHaj jam at Al Sultan. Folklorist Jon Lohman is seated on the right.
(Pat Jarrett/VFH Staff)
Osman Ahmed, right, of Harrisonburg talks with Rahim AlHaj at Al Sultan restaurant. Oud player and National Heritage Fellow Rahim AlHaj performed at a number of schools and concerts in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Photographed on 5/18/17.
Photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program
Men listen to Osman Ahmed of Harrisonburg play his tanbour. Oud player and National Heritage Fellow Rahim AlHaj performed at a number of schools and concerts in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Photographed on 5/18/17.
Photo by Pat Jarrett/Virginia Folklife Program
Rahim practices with Jared Pool and Nate Leath at Al Sultan.
(Pat Jarrett/VFH Staff)
Rahim AlHaj talks with a music class at Thomas Harrison Middle School.
(Pat Jarrett/VFH Staff)
Rahim AlHaj talks with students at Skyline Middle School.
(Pat Jarrett/VFH Staff)
Rahim at Spotswood Elementary School.
(Pat Jarrett/VFH Staff)
(Pat Jarrett/VFH Staff)
Rahim chats with local Kurdish musicians.
(Pat Jarrett/VFH Staff)
Vine and Fig.
(Pat Jarrett/VFH Staff)
Rahim chats with local Kurdish musicians.
(Pat Jarrett/VFH Staff)
Rahim AlHaj at Vine and Fig.
(Pat Jarrett/VFH Staff)
Rahim jamming with Kurdish musicians.
(Pat Jarrett/VFH Staff)
Vine and Fig.
(Pat Jarrett/VFH Staff)
Men perform a chapi dance during a jam with Kurdish musicians.
(Pat Jarrett/VFH Staff)