Explore the diverse and beautiful repertoires of Arab, Turkish, Persian, Armenian and Greek music and special selections from the Andalusi music tradition, a genre that originated in medieval Islamic Spain and later migrated to North Africa where the tradition remains strong today. Led by Nasr-Eddine Chaabane (mandole) and Amina Bensaad (mandolin)—both accomplished musicians hailing from Oujda, Morocco—the Andalusi repertoire is widely recognized as one of the most spectacular traditions of poetry and music from the Mediterranean region.
The ensemble’s instrumentation is flexible depending on the participants and program, but generally includes:
Ud (pronounced "ood") - a pear-shaped, fretless lute
Other stringed instruments including violins, violas, cellos and bass
Nay (rhymes with "high") - a reed flute
Qanun (pronounced "kanoon") - a 75-string lap zither
Percussion instruments including the Tablah/Darabukah drum, various frame drums known as Daff, Tar, or Bendir, the Riqq, a tambourine, and sometimes the Tabl Baladi (a big bass drum), Marawis (small laced drums from the Arabian Gulf), and Sagat (finger cymbals)
Established in 1994 at Williamsburg’s College of William and Mary, the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble is comprised of students, faculty, and community musicians under the direction of Professor of Ethnomusicology Dr. Anne Rasmussen with assistance from Dr. Jonathan Glasser. The group performs across the Mid-Atlantic region, has hosted guest artists from a variety of Arab and Middle Eastern music traditions and recently traveled to both Oman and Morocco as international ambassadors.
Learn more about this ensemble and the esteemed guest artists and enjoy a sample of their music in this video on YouTube. Connect with this event on Facebook here.