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Cal Poly Arab Music Ensemble Fall Concert

Date(s) - 11/16/2019
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

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Alex G. Spanos Theatre


9-14 USD
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Music Department Cal Poly SLO and Performing Arts Center, San Luis Obispo


The Cal Poly Arab Music Ensemble and guest artists will perform a program of music and dance from the Eastern Mediterranean and larger region at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, in Spanos Theatre on campus.

The Arab Music Ensemble is a multi-instrumental orchestra and choir with vocal and instrumental soloists. Its membership represents a range of majors on campus and professions off campus.

Critically acclaimed guest artists will join the ensemble: Fathi Aljarrah on kamanja (Arabic violin), and Faisal Zedan on riqq (tambourine), daff (frame drum), and darabukka (goblet drum). Both musicians were raised in Syria performing the types of music on the program, and are currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

San Luis Obispo dance director Jenna Mitchell will lead the dance troupe in complementary choreographies that dialogue with the music in selected famed pieces. Cal Poly Music Professor Ken Habib, a composer, performer, and ethnomusicologist, will direct the show.

The concert features some of the most celebrated repertoire of the region by famous composers, performers and poets including Abdel-Halim Hafez, Morsi Gamil Aziz, Mounir Mourad, and Sayyid Darwish of Egypt; Fairuz, Philemon Wehbe, and the Rahbani Brothers of Lebanon; and the legendary Ottoman-era Armenian composer, Tatyos Efendi.

The program will include contemporary works and traditional genres, such as the muwashshah, one of the oldest continuously performed art-music genres in the world. “The featured muwashshah is in a metric mode of 24 beats per measure and is an excellent example of the rhythmic sophistication that characterizes long metric modes, as will be seen in multiple pieces on this program,” Habib said.

Works from the shared music traditions of the Ottoman era will be performed which include the short introductory dulab; the samai with its 10-beat metric mode; the bashraf, which in this case has a 32-beat metric mode; and the 9-beat karshilima that is popular in Turkish and related music and dance.

Two traditional Sephardic songs with Ladino lyrics will be performed that tie historically to the Southern Iberian Peninsula and the larger Mediterranean Basin. In contrasting melodic modes, one song will be sung by a soloist and the other song by a choir.

Tickets are $14 for the public, and $9 for students. Event parking is sponsored by the PAC. Tickets are available at the Cal Poly Ticket Office between noon and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. To order by phone, call 805-SLO-4TIX (805-756-4849).

The Music Department offers a 10 percent discount to patrons who buy season tickets to four of its events through the Cal Poly Ticket Office; a 15 percent discount is given on tickets to five or more events.

The concert is sponsored by Cal Poly’s Music Department, College of Liberal Arts and Instructionally Related Activities program. For more information, call the Music Department at 805-756-2406 or visit its calendar website,

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