ORIGINAL INDO-AFRO-ARAB-FLAMENCO MUSIC & DANCE
Founded by Veena artiste Saraswathi Ranganathan, the group has been performing for the past 8 years, delighting audiences with lush rustic soundscapes of flamenco music and Afro rhythms woven into the rich sounds of Indian Classical ragas, Turkish Maqams, embellished with blues and folk melodies. Performances often include both music and dance from the Indian, African, Spanish flamenco traditions. Surabhi Ensemble features an outstanding line-up from Chicago’s music / theater scene.
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MIDDLE EASTERN, NORTH AFRICAN, BALKAN, TURKISH, GREEK, SOUTH ASIAN
Lamajamal, a palindrome for jamal, the Arabic word for beauty, is an ensemble that explores classical, folk, and sacred music traditions from around the world. With each member trained in various musical traditions and instruments, the group has an extensive repertoire from the Middle East, North Africa, Balkans, Turkey, Greece, and South Asia. For over ten years, Lamajamal has established itself as a vanguard in the world music market performing at international festivals, renowned venues, interfaith events, as well as houses of worship for Jewish, Christian, and Muslim services. Lamajamal’s core mission is to identify historical and social commonalities among different musical styles, cultures, and religions to foster a sense of global citizenry.
Lamajamal members are also educators of the music traditions they play and have provided all-ages workshops, artist residencies, and lectures at well known institutions including Chicago Public Schools, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, DePaul University, Georgetown University, and more. The group’s diverse discography consists of original, folk, and commissioned works ranging from Middle Eastern, North African, and Roma dance music to Turkish classical and sacred repertoire, and even includes an entire album of Kashmiri folk music. From ancient to electronic, Lamajamal’s versatility embodies a creative energy without borders.
EAST MEETS MIDDLE EAST
What happens when Indian sarod and tabla meet Middle Eastern oud and darbuka?
East Meets Middle East is a musical collective across continents celebrating the rich traditions of the Middle East and South Asia. From India, Subrata Bhattacharya (tabla) and Abhisek Lahiri (sarod) collaborate with Ronnie Malley (Oud) and George Lawler (percussion) to create a cross-cultural palette of improvisations and original compositions. The group transcends boundaries as they move through raga and maqam, tala and iqa, the music theories and rhythms found in South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.
CLASSICAL ARABIC MUSIC FROM EGYPT, SYRIA, AND ANDALUSIA
Diwan al-Han is a Chicago-based music ensemble that performs classical Arabic music and poetry from Andalusia, Egypt, Syria, and other parts of the Middle East and North Africa. The musicians in the group come from various backgrounds including Syria, Palestine, Jordan, and Egypt, and are steeped in the traditional music from these regions having performed with renowned international artists including Sabah Fakhri, Tony Hanna, Kazem al-Saher, Elias Karam, and more. Diwan is the Arabic word for collection of poems, and al-Han, which means local gathering place, is also a synonym for musical compositions. Diwan al-Han’s mission is to preserve the rich heritage of Arabic literature and music, but also to return the classical art form back to the mainstream of Middle Eastern society, as well as elevate it through an innovative perspective for appreciation beyond its geographic origins. Diwan al-Han is: Hani Dahshan (Voice and Qanoun), Ronnie Malley (Oud), Billal Malley (Percussion), Khalil Malley (Percussion), and Naeif Rafeh (Nay).
MIDDLE EASTERN ROCK
Baeoa is a cultural movement that uses art and music for social change. The music group was the brainchild of international artists from the Middle East, Egypt, Serbia, and Chicago. Baeoa has a genre-defying sound blending rock, jazz, and classical Middle Eastern music with Arabic and English poetry.
Percussionist - Drummer - Producer - Instrument Maker - Composer - Teacher
George Lawler is an accomplished percussionist, drummer, and music producer who has been involved in the Chicago music scene for over 20 yrs. He has been playing drum set for 33 years, and is adept at many genres of percussion, from ancient to electronic, with an emphasis on styles from the Middle East and Mediterranean region. George’s specialization in Middle Eastern, Balkan, Turkish, and Greek percussion began in the mid 90’s as an apprentice to Tunisian percussionist, Najib Bahri, a sublime master of darbuka, (goblet drum), riq, (Arabic tambourine) and bendir, (frame drum). Through this mentorship, George learned the nuances of classical and folkloric drumming styles of the Middle East and North Africa, and also the ingenious teaching method of the Arabic music conservatory. Further exploration into the art of Middle Eastern percussion led George to Istanbul, where he studied under a student of the great darbuka master Misirli Ahmet, inventor of the Turkish “split-finger technique.” He had an in depth immersion into Turkey’s folk, and Roma music when Lamajamal was the backing band for Turkish Clarinet virtuoso Selim Sesler in 2010.
George has performed music in 23 countries, toured the U.S. with Egyptian pop star Natacha Atlas, and toured Europe with Lamajamal, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, and Bobby Conn. He is a founding member of Chicago’s 25 piece punk rock marching band “Mucca Pazza,” and has composed several pieces for the band. George presents percussion workshops at Chicago Public Schools and directs a 33 piece drum line for five schools in North Lawndale. Since 2007, he and his wife, Eve Monzingo have been music directors for the Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society, providing musical instruction and performance for Greek and Balkan folk dance.
Ronnie Malley is a multi-instrumentalist musician, theatrical performer, producer, and educator with a background in Global Music and Performance Studies. His recent credits include author and composer of the original play Ziryab, The Songbird of Andalusia, musician in The Secret Garden, musician and consultant on Disney’s theatrical production of The Jungle Book, associate producer, composer, and actor in The Sultan's Dilemma, co-composer on Mary Zimmerman’s The White Snake, and film composition for At the Gate, Modou: The Hang Player, and Jon and Davy. Ronnie has also produced the albums Auraad Fathiya, Saazuk Safar, Tsikago, Gypsy Surf, and East Meets Middle East through his company, Intercultural Music Production, and has appeared as a guest artist on several musical works. He conducts Arabic language artist residencies for Chicago Public Schools and is a teaching artist of music and theater with Global Voices Initiative. Ronnie is also a faculty member at the Old Town School of Folk Music, as well as an artist researcher with Chicago Arts Partnership in Education. He performs with the music groups Allos Musica, Baeoa, EMME, Lamajamal, Surabhi, Turath Ensemble, and the University of Chicago Middle East Music Ensemble.