Rafiq Bhatia

Mon, Nov. 4 thru Thu, Nov. 7, 2019

Rafiq Bhatia is presented as part of Duke Performances’ Building Bridges Initiative, funded, in part, by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art & the National Endowment for the Arts, & co-sponsored by the Duke Islamic Studies Center & the Duke University Middle East Studies Center.

A member of heralded experimental pop trio Son Lux, Rafiq Bhatia — a Raleigh native and the son of Muslim immigrant parents — was recently described by The New York Times as “one of the most intriguing figures in music today.” The guitarist and composer’s 2018 album Breaking English finds a visceral common ground between ecstatic avant-jazz, mournful soul, tangled strings and building-shaking electronics, using surprise and contrast to fuel a meticulous, hybrid style all his own. It’s an enveloping piece of musical cinema, demonstrating just how challenging and exciting Bhatia’s songcraft can be to listeners eager to break free from the predictability of genre or categorization. Bandcamp praised this sui generis full-length as “less about easily-understood messages, and more about the passion it takes to push through the barriers that separate us.” Following a weeklong residency at Duke and in Durham, Bhatia’s trio performs Breaking English at the von der Heyden Studio Theater alongside entrancing visual projections.

Bhatia’s visit is part of a joint initiative with the Duke Islamic Studies Center and Duke Middle East Studies Center entitled Building Bridges: Muslims in America. Funded by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and the National Endowment for the Arts, the three-year project seeks to strengthen understanding between Muslim and non-Muslim communities in the Durham area. Bhatia is one of several US-based artists who, between Spring 2018 and Spring 2020, are making visits to Duke classrooms and local public schools with the aim of fostering understanding, respect, and dialogue around Muslim art and culture.