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Press Release

Cal Poly Arab Music Ensemble to Perform Winter Concert on March 16

Cal Poly Arab Music Ensemble performs onstage

Contact: Michele Abba


SAN LUIS OBISPO — The Cal Poly Arab Music Ensemble will give its winter concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16, in Spanos Theatre.

A suite of instrumental and vocal pieces celebrated across Arab society will be a highlight of the program. It will feature a wide range of rhythmic modalities with pieces ranging from four to 17 beats per measure, as well as examples of muwashshah, a genre of poetry and music that stems from 10th-century Andalusia in the southern Iberian Peninsula.

A Romanian folksong and Ottoman Turkish dance piece will also be performed, along with a song made famous by the Lebanese singer Fairuz that is an arrangement of the second movement of Joaquín Rodrigo’s “Concierto de Aranjuez.” Ensemble member Samuel Shalhoub will conduct the ensemble in his own arrangement of the work. Shalhoub teaches in the Liberal Studies Department and Music Department at Cal Poly.

A dance troupe performs original choreography that dialogues with Arab Ensemble music

Other composers, poets and artists that will be represented in the works performed include Anton Pann, Badi` Khayri, Farid al-Atrash, Ibrahim Touqan, Mohammed Flayfel, Sayyid Darwish and Ziad Rahbani.

Critically acclaimed guest artists will return to join the ensemble on stage: Ishmael, a renowned qanun (zither) player of Assyrian heritage, performs wide-ranging repertoire from across Southwest Asia North Africa; Fathi Aljarrah, a master kamanja (violin) player and multi-instrumentalist, hails from Aleppo, an artistic center of Syria and larger Arab society; and Faisal Zedan, a virtuoso percussionist from Syria, excels in musical styles from across Southwest Asia North Africa, and plays riqq (tambourine), daff (frame drum) and darabukka (goblet drum).

San Luis Obispo dance director Jenna Mitchell will lead the dance troupe in original choreography that dialogues with the music in a longstanding collaboration of bringing music and dance from the region to Cal Poly.

Ken Habib, a composer, performer and ethnomusicologist, will direct the event. The show will include one of his original compositions and arrangements.

The Arab Music Ensemble is an orchestra and choir with vocal and instrumental soloists. Its membership represents a range of majors on campus and professions off campus. The dance troupe has a similar composition and has collaborated with the Arab Music Ensemble since its formation in 2006.


Cal Poly Arab Music Ensemble performs onstage

Tickets are $15 and $20 for the public, and $10 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). Patrons receive a 20% discount when buying season tickets to four Music Department events through the Performing Arts Ticket Office; Cal Poly faculty and staff receive a 20% discount on individual tickets.

The event is sponsored by Cal Poly’s Music Department, College of Liberal Arts and Instructionally Related Activities program.

For more information, visit the Music Department’s calendar website, email, or call 805-756-2406.