Middle East Ensemble featuring Isabel Bayrakdarian

Event Date: 

Saturday, December 2, 2017 - 7:30pm

Event Date Details: 

Event Location: 

  • Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall (UCSB)

Event Price: 

Tickets: general admission ($15), non-UCSB students with ID ($10), UCSB students with ID ($5), children under 12 (FREE). Tickets may be purchased at the door, at the AS Ticket Office window (UCEN Room 1535, across from Corwin Pavilion), online at the link below, or by calling the AS Ticket Office at (805) 893-2064.
Youth tickets may be reserved in advance by visiting the AS Ticket Office window on the UCSB campus (UCEN Room 1535, across from Corwin Pavilion) or by contacting the AS Ticket Office at ticketoffice@as.ucsb.edu or (805) 893-2064.

Event Contact: 

Adriane Hill
Marketing and Communications Manager
UC Santa Barbara Department of Music
(805) 893-3230
Isabel Bayrakdarian. Photo by Dario Acosta.
Special guest: Grammy Award-winning soprano and UCSB Assistant Professor, Dr. Isabel Bayrakdarian. Photo by Dario Acosta.
Directed by Scott Marcus, the UCSB Middle East Ensemble will present its annual fall concert on Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. in UCSB’s Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall. The program will feature special guest Isabel Bayrakdarian, Grammy Award-winning soprano and UCSB Assistant Professor, who will sing songs of the Lebanese superstar Fairouz (b.1935) and also an Armenian song. UCSB graduate student Jared Holton will lead the Ensemble in a suite of three art songs from Libya. Nick Ragheb will lead a performance of a song by the Egyptian superstar, Umm Kulthum (d.1975), featuring Sarah Salam, solo vocalist. Sam Khattar will present a song by the Syrian superstar singer, Farid al-Atrash (d.1974), and Andrea Fishman will perform a Sephardic song from Greece. As always, the Ensemble's Dance Company will perform a wonderful variety of dances, from Armenian, Egyptian, Greek, and Persian cultures, with choreographies by Cris! Basimah, Tom Bozigian, Shahrzad Khorsandi, and Alexandra King. 
About Isabel Bayrakdarian
Ms. Bayrakdarian’s performing career was launched in 1997, the year she was a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and the same year she graduated from the University of Toronto cum laude with a biomedical engineering degree. In 1999, Isabel was engaged in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s world premiere production of William Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge. In 2000, she won First Prize in Plácido Domingo’s prestigious Operalia competition. In 2002, Isabel made her debut with San Francisco Opera, as Valencienne in The Merry Widow, and also made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera in the New York premiere of Bolcom’s opera. A season later, she won plaudits as Teresa in the Met premiere of Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini. She was in demand for Mozart productions; Zerlina in Don Giovanni (New York, Houston, Salzburg), Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro (Los Angeles, London), and Pamina in The Magic Flute (New York, Toronto). Her roles at her home-base theater, Toronto’s Canadian Opera Company, range from Gluck’s Euridice to Debussy’s Mélisande to Poulenc’s Blanche in Dialogues des Carmélites. Internationally, she sang in Monteverdi’s Poppea in Barcelona, Handel’s Serse in Dresden, and Janáček’s Vixen in New York and Florence, and at the Saito Kinen Festival in Matsumoto, Japan.
As a concertizer, she has appeared with the premier orchestras of New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Paris, London, Vienna, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal under the baton of such eminent conductors as Seiji Ozawa, James Conlon, David Zinman, Michael Tilson Thomas, Alan Gilbert, Nicholas McGegan, Christoph von Dohnányi, Christoph Eschenbach, Colin Davis, Sir Andrew Davis, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Mariss Jansons, Leonard Slatkin, James Levine, Anne Manson, Bramwell Tovey, Peter Oundjian, and Richard Bradshaw. 
Her versatility is also reflected in being the featured vocalist on the Grammy Award-winning soundtrack of the blockbuster film The Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers, and on the soundtrack of Atom Egoyan’s Ararat. She collaborated with the electronica band “Delerium,” which garnered a Grammy nomination. She appeared in the BBC-produced short film HOLOCAUST – A Music Memorial Film from Auschwitz, which generated close to a million views on YouTube, and in her Gemini nominated film Long Journey Home, documenting her first visit to her homeland Armenia. Additional forays include her tango album and project Tango Notturno, a recording of Armenian medieval sacred music, In Joyous Light, and her recording of Manuel de Falla’s Seven Spanish Songs.
Ms. Bayrakdarian is the winner of four consecutive Juno Awards (Canada’s Grammy equivalent) for Best Classical Album (Vocal) for Azulão, a collection of Spanish, Brazilian, and Argentine songs, for Cleopatra, including baroque arias with Tafelmusik, a collection of songs by the nineteenth-century singer/composer Pauline Viardot Garcia, and Mozart Arie e Duetti. Her recording of Nonesuch CD Gomidas Songs, which was nominated for a Grammy in 2009, promoted and popularized the work of Armenian composer Gomidas Vartabed. Ms Bayrakdarian is the recipient of many other awards, including the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee and the Diamond Jubilee Medals, the Arbor Award from the University of Toronto, the George London Foundation Award, Canada Council’s Virginia Parker Prize, and the Republic Of Armenia "Komitas Medal", bestowed upon by the Minister of Diaspora, Dr. Hranush Hakobian. Most recently, she was awarded the “Movses Khorenatsi” medal - the Republic of Armenia’s highest cultural award - from the President of Armenia in celebration of Armenia's Independence, on September 21 2017.
For more information on Ms. Bayrakdarian, please visit bayrakdarian.com.
About the Middle East Ensemble
The UCSB Middle East Ensemble is an official "Ethnomusicology Performance Ensemble" in the Department of Music at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Begun in 1989 by ethnomusicology professor Scott Marcus, the Ensemble has performed widely throughout California, including concerts in San Diego, L.A., Pomona, San Bernadino, Pasadena, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Berkeley, and Sacramento. Quarterly concerts at UCSB's 486-seat Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall are regularly "sold out" events.
The ensemble's repertoire reflects the great variety of cultures found in the Middle East. The ensemble performs music and dance from Arab, Turkish, Persian, Armenian, Greek, Jewish, and even Assyrian cultures. Performance items range from classical pieces to religious songs, folk and popular songs, folk dances, and cabaret-style dances.
The ensemble performs on traditional instruments such as the pan-Middle Eastern short-necked lute (the `ud), the Turkish long-necked lute (the baglama saz) the end-blown reed flute (the nay), the Persian hammered dulcimer (the santur), the Arab/Turkish plucked dulcimer (qanun or kanun), the Egyptian spiked fiddle (the rabab), the Turkish and Egyptian oboes (the zurna and mizmar), and a variety of Middle Eastern drums (the darbukkah, riqq, bendir, mazhar, tabl baladi, and zarb). In addition, the Ensemble uses the accordion (retuned to accomodate Middle Eastern scales), the violin, cello, double bass, and on occasion, the guitar and saxophone.
Isabel Bayrakdarian. Photo by Dario Acosta.