Saudi Aramco World September/October 2014 - page 6

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Saudi Aramco World
year, he started the Michigan Arab Orchestra,
which by 2011 comprised not only the
takht, but also an Arab community choir
he had founded. Victor Ghannam, a well-
known Arab-American musician who often
composes music for television, played with
Ibrahim from day one. “It went straight to
my heart,” says Ghannam. “What’s better
than preserving our heritage?”
In January, the orchestra renamed itself
the National Arab Orchestra to reflect
both its focus on education and its national
presence. On January 24, it held its premier
performance under the new name in the
Atlanta Symphony Hall in Georgia. Violinist
Katie van Dusen regards the new name as
“a better reflection of our current identity,
because musicians come from all around the
country and sometimes the world to join us.”
One of them, Austin, Texas-based
composer and violinist Roberto Riggio, says
the orchestra gives him the opportunity to
grow as a practitioner of Arab music while at
“It was my goal from the beginning to have a
full-time professional orchestra and to also build a
school for Arabic music,” says Ibrahim,
left.
Among three singers on the
nao
’s May 31
program was Aboud Agha,
above,
who first
performed as a teenager in Syria.
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