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TRADITIONAL AND CONTEMPORARY ARABIC MUSIC IN THE UNITED STATES
ARABIC ORCHESTRAS AND ENSEMBLES IN THE U.S.The modern Arab Orchestra originated in the 1930s when Mohamed Abdel Wahab began to arrange songs for Arab orchestras, large ensembles that mixed Western musical instruments — especially the bowed strings and the concert flute — with traditional Arabic musical instruments.YouTube channel and website). In its concert repertoire the National Arab Orchestra plays arrangements from Wahab's era (1930s through 1970s), as well as contemporary compositions that extend traditions of Arabic music. The Orchestra has also established a community choir and other outreach programs in the belief that "music crosses cultural and historical barriers." [NAO website] YouTube channel and website).
NYAO Video: "Nirvana" by Basam Saba (Contemporary Arabic suite) with New York Arabic Orchestra:
Bassam Saba of Lebanon is a world-renowned virtuoso, multi-instrumentalist, and leading figure of Arabic music. Saba studied nay, oud and violin at the Lebanon National Conservatory and Western Classical Music and Flute Performance in Paris and Moscow. He has toured extensively with international Arab music singing star Fairouz, Andalusian singer-songwriter Marcel Khalife, and Palestinian-American oud virtuoso and composer Simon Shaheen. He has collaborated with classical and pop stars such as Yo-Yo Ma, Sting, Alicia Keys and Santana, and jazz icons such as Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones. Saba, a highly sought-after teacher of Arabic music, co-founded and directs the New York Arabic Orchestra.
Samuel Thomas is founder and bandleader of Asefa, an ensemble devoted to contemporary approaches to composition, improvisation, and fusion drawn from Sephardic, North African and jazz traditions. Thomas also is executive director of JATM (Jewish Awareness Though Music), an applied ethnomusicology organization focused on cultural exchange through music. [Brooklyn Council on the Arts]
CIVIC AND ACADEMIC ENSEMBLESTraditional Arabic music is supported by academic and civic institutions in major cities in the United States. A number of universities maintain Arab music ensembles, including the Arab Percussion Ensemble at University of Pennsylvania, the Columbia Arab Music Ensemble, Cal Poly Arab Music Ensemble, and the Arabic Choir at University of Texas at Austin. The cities of Philadelphia and Las Vegas also have Arab Music Ensembles.