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UCSB Middle East Ensemble

Peace Through Music

Every quarter, the UCSB Middle East
Ensemble
, a group that is comprised of a mix of
university students, faculty, community members, and renowned guest
artists performs an epic-length concert. The evening provides the
equivalent of a magic carpet ride to the audience who is
transported through music to lands with a musical timbre far from
Santa Barbara. The program for this fall quarter concert, like many
before, is filled with a dizzying list of music and dance
revelations.

Two “Songs for Peace” are featured as a special part of the
performance, a much-needed reminder as news reports tout anything
but. Symbolically and musically diverse, Arabic and Hebrew
selections will be performed. mee.jpg Another highlight is the special guest
appearance by Syrian vocalist Abboud Bashir. Not
only will Bashir perform traditional Syrian melodies, he will set
score aside for some seldom-heard (in Lotte Lehman hall in any
case) Syrian vocal improvisations.

Improvisation will highlight tradition, as the ensemble will
also feature other seldom-heard gems, including songs from Egypt’s
most famous female vocalist, the late Umm Kulthum.
Guest vocalist Dalia Khan will take on “Tala`a
l-Badru `Alayna,” while the ensemble will perform one of Kultum’s
early compositions.

Music and dance are often inseparable, which is the case in the
Middle East evenings. Soloist Kat Tully will
perform and the ensemble dancers will circle the crescent for
dances ranging from veils to drums. The intermission nearly always
has baklava for sale — some of the sweetest around. But even
without treats on the table, the ensemble never fails to
dazzle.

The UCSB Middle East Ensemble performs at Lotte Lehman
Concert Hall on December 2 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $13 general, $8
for students. Call 893-2064 or see music.ucsb.edu/mee.

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