March 26, 2009

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — The Bassam Saba Ensemble will visit Bucknell University on Thursday, April 2. During the visit, the Ensemble will present a workshop, lecture and concert in Middle Eastern music in the Rooke Recital Hall of the Weis Music Building.

All events are free and open to the public. The Ensemble's residency is sponsored by the Kushell Music Endowment at Bucknell University.

The workshop, which begins at noon, will include basic principles of Arabic classical music and a participatory session in improvisation. April Centrone, one of the leading classical Arabic percussionists in America, will discuss Arabic percussion.

As the lead teaching artist for Musicians For Harmony, Centrone designs and teaches "Music of the World," a program geared toward the education of inner-city high school youths. She teaches percussion and drumset in New York.

Lecture and concert
The lecture begins at 7 p.m., followed by a concert at 8 p.m. with the Bassam Saba Ensemble. Joining Saba and Centrone are Ali Amr on qanun, Megan Gould on violin and Sprocket Royer on double bass.

"It will be a lively concert featuring Arabic music and new compositions for the Ensemble," said Bethany Collier, assistant professor of music at Bucknell.

Bassam Saba
One of the nation's leading figures of Arabic music, Saba is a world-renowned virtuoso of the nay (middle-eastern end-blown reed flute) and a master multi-instrumentalist, performing on oud (Middle-Eastern lute), violin, buzuq (Arabic long-neck lute), saz (Turkish long-neck lute) and western classical flute.

He has worked with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Paul Simon, Alicia Keys, Sting, Santana and Herbie Hancock. He directs the New York Arabic Orchestra and also performs with Simon Shaheen's Al-Qantara and Near Eastern Music Ensemble, Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, and Christian Jarvi's Absolute Ensemble.

Saba holds degrees in western classical music and flute performance from the Conservatoire Municipal des Gobelins and in western flute performance and music education at the Gnessin Musical Pedagogical Institute of Moscow. He teaches nay, flute, oud, violin and Arabic contrabass in New York.

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