Middle East Ensemble

Middle East Ensemble
Photo by Tony Mastres.
 
Music A70M / A170M / A270M (Ethnomusicology Ensemble)
Director: Scott Marcus
Class time: TBD
Class location: TBD
 
The UCSB Middle East Ensemble is an official "Ethnomusicology Performance Ensemble" in the Department of Music at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Begun in 1989 by ethnomusicology professor Scott Marcus, the Ensemble has performed widely throughout California, including concerts in San Diego, L.A., Pomona, San Bernadino, Pasadena, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Berkeley, and Sacramento. Quarterly concerts at UCSB's 486-seat Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall are regularly "sold out" events. We rehearse throughout the year on Tuesday evenings and invite any and all to come and join us at these rehearsals. Ahlan wa sahlan!
 
The ensemble's repertoire reflects the great variety of cultures found in the Middle East. The ensemble performs music and dance from Arab, Turkish, Persian, Armenian, Greek, Jewish, and even Assyrian cultures. Performance items range from classical pieces to religious songs, folk and popular songs, folk dances, and cabaret-style dances.
 
The ensemble performs on traditional instruments such as the pan-Middle Eastern short-necked lute (the `ud), the Turkish long-necked lute (the baglama saz) the end-blown reed flute (the nay), the Persian hammered dulcimer (the santur), the Arab/Turkish plucked dulcimer (qanun or kanun), the Egyptian spiked fiddle (the rabab), the Turkish and Egyptian oboes (the zurna and mizmar), and a variety of Middle Eastern drums (the darbukkah, riqq, bendir, mazhar, tabl baladi, and zarb). In addition, the Ensemble uses the accordion (retuned to accomodate Middle Eastern scales), the violin, cello, double bass, and on occasion, the guitar and saxophone.
 
The ensemble performs at various sizes. At its fullest, the instrumental section of the ensemble is a 40 to 45-member orchestra; the chorus has 10-12 members; and dancers number up to a dozen. For our "road performances," we often present a smaller group of 20-30 members.
 
To learn more about the UCSB Middle East Ensemble, please visit their website.