The Qadim Ensemble promotes unity through music

Melissa Voss Staff Writer

When people think about the Middle East, they first think of the political turmoil that frequents the news. However, On Friday night, Sept. 18, the Qadim Ensemble showed a different perspective of the Middle East that is often overlooked.

The Bay Area-based music group performed ancient, soulful music of the Near East in the HUB Multipurpose room. Their repertoire included music spanning several centuries. From traditional Andalucian music written over 700 years ago to modern Arabic style music incorporating western and flamenco influence, the trio’s array of music was as wide as it was beautiful. Similarly, the band performed music from many Middle Eastern regions: Morocco, Iraq, Yemen and Turkey being among the nations represented.

The Qadim Ensemble offers an important look into the Middle Eastern culture. The trio, comprised of Eliyahu Sills, Bouchaib Abdelhadi and Faisal Zedan, are all from distinctly unique cultural and religious backgrounds, a fact that they were open about throughout their performance. Despite their differences, they come together to make incredible music.

Whitworth senior Marianne Sfeir attended the event and was enthusiastic about the message and the music that the ensemble had to offer to Whitworth students and the world. Due to her half-Arab identity, Sfeir said the music reminded her of back home.

“Given the political conflicts in the Middle East, the common pleasure of music to unite religions in important for the Middle East,” Sfeir said.

The event was put on by the Associated Students of Whitworth University (ASWU) cultural events coordinator, senior Kaysee-Li Tomkins.

“The goal of the event was to destigmatize diversity by showing students how we are all diverse,” Tomkins said. She also lauded the ensemble for their ability to express religion through music, stating that people often overlook religion as something that makes us diverse.

“Everyone is diverse,” Tomkins said. “From race and religions to hair color and eye color.” Tomkins hopes the event helped students to expand their horizons on what it means to be diverse, as well as give them an opportunity to listen to good music.

Not only was their message inspiring, the Qadim Ensemble also provided an exciting performance. The band was very involved with the audience, encouraging them to clap, sing and even dance along to the music. They played numerous exotic Middle Eastern instruments including a Riqq, which is similar to a tambourine, an Oud, the predecessor of guitars, and several reed flutes known as Ney, each with distinctive regional identities.

Photographer: Stuart Beeksma The Qadim Ensemble performs a historic song from Arabic culture during their concert on Friday, Sept. 18.  They play traditional instruments from several Middle Eastern countries. Photographer: Stuart Beeksma  

In Arabic, Hebrew, Farsi and Turkish, the word Qadim means “ancient,” but it is also commonly taken to mean “moving forward”, Sills said. The ensemble embodied this meaning in their artful of ancient music and instrument, making music that connects the past with their goal of moving forward into the future, as well as providing a picture of global unity through the increasingly divided world of the Middle East.

Local Spokane author with ties to Whitworth publishes his first novel for young adult readers

Melissa Voss Staff Writer

Guy L. Pace, a Spokane author whose wife graduated from Whitworth, published his first novel on Aug. 12. In this novel, Pace begs to answer the question, “Can youth and faith defeat evil?” Pace’s novel, titled "Sudden Mission," takes place in a dystopia setting and follows three teenage friends as they face a cunning enemy. The enemy they are up against is Satan.

"Sudden Mission" integrates Christian themes into a thrilling plot and relatable characters that appeal to a young adult audience.

“I wrote a book I would have wanted to read when I was 11, with lots of action and excitement,” Pace said. The novel’s protagonists, Paul, Amy and Joe, are called on to help restore reality after Satan–called “the Adversary” throughout the novel – throws the world into chaos. Throughout the course of the novel the friends are challenged by “everything from zombies to Samurai,” Pace wrote in the novel’s synopsis. Their biggest challenge, however, is staying strong in their faith through their numerous struggles.

Before retiring in 2011, Pace served in the Navy, worked as a journalist and spent 20 years working in higher education and information technology. After his retirement, Pace threw himself into a newfound passion.

“As a Christian, it felt like a natural flow,” Pace said, on why he decided to write a Christian -based novel. He believes that there are important spiritual values in keeping faith in every aspect of your life, a concept that played a key role in his novel.

For Pace, the writing process was unique. As a former journalist Pace said he was used to working under a deadline and therefore decided to write his novel in one month. For inspiration Pace turned to National Novel Writing Month, often referred to as NaNoWriMo, a non-profit and month long event that occurs every November. NaNoWriMo challenges writers to write a novel over the course of the month, a challenge that, in 2012, Guy Pace accepted.

“I’ve always been a hard worker,” Pace said. After setting up some preliminary character sketches and setting details, Pace began the writing process and had the first draft of his novel completed by the end of the month. Although he had put in time to plan beforehand, “the outline didn’t last long once the character took over,” Pace said. After work shopping the novel with friends and editors, as well as sending it around to many publishers specializing in Christian literature, Pace finally found a publisher in Vox Dei Publishing, an imprint of BookTrope Editions. Pace was able to work directly with the people at Vox Dei throughout every step of the publishing process. From editing to cover design, his approval and input was valued by the publishers. For that reason, he feels fortunate to have worked with BookTrope, he said.

“Traditional publishing often takes a couple of years to finally result in a finished product,” Pace said. “Working with agents and many layers of publishers would make the process less personalized.” "Sudden Mission" was released last month and Pace is very excited about the future of his novel. His hope for "Sudden Mission" is for it to get out for kids to read as a positive example of an action novel in a dystopian real-world setting, Pace said.

“I want to become a New York Times best-selling billionaire,” Pace said jokingly. However in the meantime, he is glad to have the book inspire young readers. The author is already working on the second installation to his book series, which he hopes will be released next spring. Pace will hold a book reading and signing at Indaba Coffee on Saturday, Oct. 10 at 2 p.m.