Cal Poly Arab Music Ensemble to Perform with Guest Artists Feb. 24

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 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, in Harman Hall of the Performing Arts Center.

With a membership that represents a wide range of majors on campus and professions off campus, the Cal Poly Arab Music Ensemble is a multi-instrumental orchestra and choir with vocal and instrumental soloists.

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

Critically acclaimed guest artists specializing in the performance practices of the music cultures being featured will join the ensemble from the San Francisco and Sacramento areas, and include Ishmael on qanun (trapezoidal zither), Fathi Aljarrah on kamanja (violin), and Faisal Zedan on riqq (tambourine), daff (frame drum) and darabukka (goblet drum).

Works to be performed include some of the most celebrated repertoire of the region by composers, performers and poets including Abdelhadi Belkhayat, Abdelkader Wahbi and Ali Haddani of Morocco; Sayyid Darwish, Yunis Al-Qadi and Fathi Qura of Egypt; and Fairuz, the Rahbani Brothers, Philemon Wehbe and Ziad Rahbani of Lebanon.

The show will include contemporary works and traditional genres, such as the muwashshah, one of the oldest continuously performed art-music genres in the world, which in this case features an 11-beat metric mode.

Additional pieces to be performed come from the shared music traditions of the Ottoman era, including the short introductory dulab, the more elaborate samai with its 10-beat metric mode and the 9-beat karshilima that is popular in Turkish and related music and dance.

Tickets to the concert are $12 or $14 for the public, and $9 or $12 for students. Event parking is sponsored by the PAC. Tickets are sold 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 at

Contact: Michele Abba

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