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Michigan Arab Orchestra Presents

posted on: Mar 21, 2011

The Michigan Arab Orchestra Takht Ensemble will enchant Wayne State University on April 1, 2011 at 6:00pm in the Community Arts Auditorium with an evening of traditional and classical Arabic music.

The Michigan Arab Orchestra is a nonprofit organization that celebrates Arab heritage, and its music through educational outreach and performance. Established in 2010, the Michigan Arab Orchestra is home to the MAO orchestra (MAO) and the MAO Takht Ensemble (MAOTE); and has been dedicated to preserving and performing the classical and contemporary traditions of Arab music. The MAO provides opportunities that will bridge social and cultural barriers through its work in the greater community.

The Michigan Arab Orchestra (MAO) was originally a takht, a small chamber music ensemble comprised of ‘oud (Arab lute), qanun (Arab zither), nay (Arab reed flute), violin, and riqq (Arab tambourine). Formerly known as Shahnaz and with the help of one of its pioneering members, Alyson Jones; the ensemble has grown since 2009 to become an orchestra under the leadership of its music director Michael Ibrahim. The MAO is comprised of musicians from both Arab and non Arab backgrounds; and who are either students or professional musicians from the community. The MAO performs the classical and contemporary genres of Arab music and rehearses at the University Of Michigan School Of Music.

The Michigan Arab Orchestra Takht Ensemble (MAOTE) is a classical Arab music chamber ensemble comprised of instruments such as: ‘oud (Arab Lute), qanun (Arab zither), nay (Arab reed flute), Violin, Bass, and percussion. Established in April 2010, the MAOTE includes musicians form the greater Detroit community; and performs classical and contemporary Arab music otherwise known as tarab music. Tarab music is characterized by its melodic modes known as maqāmāt (sing. maqām) and complex rhythmic modes (iqā’at). It is also distinguished by the art of improvisation, or taqāsim, during which a musician outlines a melodic mode and/or modulates to other related modes. The audience plays an extremely important role in tarab music, since listeners (sami’ah) will often respond with applause during and after a musician’s improvised solos.

Michael Ibrahim is one of the newest and most innovative emerging artists to the Arab music scene. a Syrian American, was born in Sterling Heights, Michigan. He has studied the ‘oud since the age of ten and the nay since the age of twenty. His teachers include world-renowned artists Simon Shaheen, Johny Sarweh, Sakher Hattar, Bassam Saba, and Nadeem Dlaikan. In addition to playing both ‘oud and nay, Michael also performs on folkloric instruments such as the mizmar/zurna (Arab shawm) and the mijwiz (a dual-piped clarinet). Michael Ibrahim is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University where he studied composition and earned a degree in music performance on bassoon. Michael now attends Wayne State University and is studying for a masters degree in conducting. Michael’s teachers have included: Dr. David Pierce, Dr. Anthony Iannacconne, Prof. Douglas Bianchi, Robert Williams, Principal Bassoonist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Vicky King, Second Bassoonist of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and Alayne Revere. As an active composer, Michael has premiered several works for small ensemble and solo piano at Eastern Michigan University.

Given his diverse musical background, Michael has performed in various musical venues. Some of these venues have included: zeffas, classical western recitals, traditional Arabic weddings, parties, religious services, etc. Michael has also performed with various Arab musicians and pop stars such as: Simon Shaheen, Bassam Saba, Michel Merhej, Kinan Azmeh, Amir Elsaffar, Rabih al-Asmar, Hussam al-Rassam, Melheim Zein, Ismail Farwaji, and Mahmoud Anwar. Michael has also been a featured guest preformer at the New York Arabic Orchestra. As a recording artist, Michael has been featured on several recordings by Moda Music Productions. Michael’s diverse musical background reflects his unique approach to composition and improvisation. As an artist, Michael fuses both western and Arab music traditions. Michael’s interest in ‘Arab fusion’ recently culminated in a tour to Europe with the Eyvand Kang Orchestra. There, the orchestra premiered several works incorporating Arabic music idioms with contemporary western music. Currently, Michael directs of the Arab Music Ensemble at the University of Michigan and founder of the Michigan Arab Orchestra.

The Michigan Arab Orchestra (MAO) is non-profit organization that is dedicated to the performance, and education of Arab music to the greater Detroit community. As founder and music director, Michael has expanded the organization from a small Arab ensemble at the University of Michigan to a community orchestra with musicians of both Arab and non-Arab descent with the goal of eventually establishing a professional Arab orchestra. The MAO is also home to the Michigan Arab Orchestra Takht Ensemble (MAOTE), a professional ensemble made up of musicians from the Arab community in greater Detroit. It is the goal of the MAO to provide opportunities for anyone seeking to learn about Arab music through its performance’s and educational workshops.

As a teacher, Michael has taught both privately and in the classrooms of various high schools and middle schools in the Greater Detroit area. Most recently, Michael was given the opportunity to implement a new Arabic music program at Fordson High school in Dearborn, Michigan. There, he directed and assisted the Arab instrumental and vocal programs. Michael hopes that through teaching and performing, he will be able to preserve and cultivate a wider appreciation for Arab music.

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