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Saadalla Agha Al-Kalaa

(b al-Qrayya, Syria, Oct 18, 1915; d Beirut, Dec 26, 1974). Syrian singer, composer, ‘ūd player and film actor and producer. In 1924 political circumstances forced his family to move to Egypt. His mother, the noted singer ‘Aliyya al-Munther, taught him singing in the Syrian style. He studied the ‘ūd (lute) at the Cairo Institute for Arab Music. His professional work began as an ‘ūd player and singer at the national radio station and in Badī ‘a Maṣabnī's variety show saloon.

In 1941, through his sister Asmahān , he entered the cinema industry, and for the rest of his life was involved in films as a composer, singer actor, and producer. His singing of Syrian mawwāl (popular songs), tangos and rumbas achieved great popularity, and his work laid the foundations for Arab variety show films, cinematic operetta, orchestral musical overtures and comic and sad songs. His 31 films are mostly autobiographical and provide valuable insight into the role of the musician in society....


David W. Bernstein

revised by Wendy F. Hsu

(b Tokyo, Japan, Feb 18, 1933). American performance artist, composer, singer, and songwriter of Japanese birth. Ono was born into a wealthy banking family and raised in Tokyo. In 1953, she moved to New York to attend Sarah Lawrence College where she studied music and philosophy. Ono married Toshi Ichiyanagi in 1956. In the early 1960s the couple’s Manhattan apartment became the site of many performance events; several of the artists who performed there later became associated with Fluxus. Dubbed “the high priestess of the happening,” Ono was a pioneer in the conceptual art movement. She once claimed that “the only sound that exists … is the sound of the mind.” Her conceptual scores, described by George Maciunas as “Neo-Haiku Theater,” often consist of only brief instructions. Earth Piece (1963), for example, instructs the performer to “listen to the sound of the earth turning.” A specialist in extended vocal techniques, Ono performed self-composed pieces that featured her virtuosic vocal exploration of screams, sighs, moans, gasps, and multi-phonics....