Photo by Tony Mastres.
Directed by Scott Marcus, the UCSB Middle East Ensemble will present their annual spring concert on Saturday, June 3, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. in UCSB’s Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall.
The Ensemble will present a great variety of music and dance from throughout the Middle East. UCSB Persian music lecturer, Bahram Osqueezadeh, will perform a solo on the santur (the Persian hammered dulcimer). Nick Ragheb and Nader Mansi, Cantor at Coptic churches in Simi Valley and Oxnard, will lead the Ensemble in a Coptic hymn for Palm Sunday. Sarah Salim will perform a song by the Egyptian superstar singer Umm Kulthum (d. 1975), Maz Kavandish will lead the ensemble in two Persian songs, Andrea Fishman will perform a Sephardic song from Morocco, and Sam Khattar will perform a song by the Egyptian singer/composer Sayyid Darwish (d.1923) popularized by the Syrian singer Sabah Fakhri (b.1933).
As always, the Ensemble’s Dance Company will perform a wonderful variety of dances, from Egyptian, Greek, and Turkish cultures and an Arab-Latin fusion dance, with choreographies by Cris! Basimah, Jatila Van der Veen, and Alexandra King. In a special highlight, Ellen Chang, a long-time member of the Ensemble’s Dance Company, will perform an extended dance solo. Finally, the ensemble will once again present a dance by the UCSB Armenian Student Association’s Yeraz Dance Team.
Scott Marcus, Founder & Director
Sue Rudnicki, Director of the Ensemble’s percussion section
Cris! Basimah, Director of the Ensemble’s Dance Company
and Special Guests
Bahram Osqueezadeh (santur solo)
Nader Mansi (Coptic vocal solo)
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.