A week-long series of events created to promote understanding about Muslim societies in diverse contexts will feature three headline performances — comedians Maysoon Zayid and Maz Jobrani, hip-hop artist Omar Offendum, and musician Kayhan Kalhor with string quartet Brooklyn Rider — alongside art exhibitions, panel discussions, informal talks, and music performances and demonstrations.
The Islamic Worlds Festival, presented by the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech, runs from April 6 to 11. With the ultimate goal of raising awareness about and celebrating the cultural traditions practiced in Muslim societies, a team of Virginia Tech students and faculty, along with community members, met regularly for over a year to design a week of bridge-building experiences.
Included is an evening with two comedians who will share their personal observations and reflections on culture, families, and stereotypes. “An Evening of Comedy: Maysoon Zayid and Maz Jobrani” will be at 8 p.m. April 10.
Zayid is a Palestinian-American actress, stand-up comedian, and writer. She was a headliner on both the “Arabs Gone Wild Comedy Tour” and “The Muslims Are Coming! Tour.” Zayid, who has cerebral palsy, was a 2013 honoree of United Cerebral Palsy of New York City’s Women Who Care Awards.
Jobrani is a founding member of “The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour,” which first aired on Comedy Central, and has had two Showtime specials. Born in Tehran, Iranian-American Jobrani performs stand-up around the world. Most recently, he co-wrote, produced, and starred as the title character in the award-winning indie film “Jimmy Vestvood: Amerikan Hero.” He can next be seen playing the role of Jafar (from “Aladdin”) in the Disney movie “The Descendants” this summer.
At 8 p.m. April 9, Syrian-American hip-hop artist, designer, poet, and peace activist Omar Offendum will perform with special guest VT Expressions. Born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Washington, D.C., Offendum tours the world performing at international music festivals, lecturing at major academic institutions, and fundraising for humanitarian relief organizations. Offendum created critically acclaimed songs about the popular democratic uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa among other new projects, while touring to promote his solo release “SyrianamericanA.” Opening the evening’s program is VT Expressions, a student social organization dedicated to free expression in art, music, and poetry.
A stunning collaboration between Iranian kamancheh virtuoso Kayhan Kalhor and American string quartet Brooklyn Rider will be featured at 8 p.m. April 11. Born in Tehran, Grammy Award-nominated soloist and composer Kalhor has toured the world with ensembles and orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic. Brooklyn Rider also crosses many borders, and its collaborations include programs with Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man, traditional and technology-based Japanese shakuhachi player Kojiro Umezaki, and the Silk Road Ensemble, which has resulted in performances throughout the world and three albums for Sony Classical.
All of these headline events will be in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre within the Moss Arts Center’s Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall. Tickets for each of these performances are $25 for general admission and $10 for students and youth 18 years old and under. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300.
Other festival events include a fashion show by the Muslim Students Association showcasing traditional dress from Muslim societies around the world, a visual arts exhibition of work by Moroccan photographer Lalla Essaydi, traditional music performances and demonstrations, displays from Virginia Tech cultural student groups, and lecture and panel discussions featuring Virginia Tech faculty and students. All of these events are free and open to the public. View the entire festival schedule online.
Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Limited street parking is also available. Parking on Alumni Mall is free after 5 p.m. weekdays and on weekends.