Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

MESTO Offers Premiere Performance

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

MESTO Offers Premiere Performance

Article excerpt

MESTO OFFERS PREMIERE PERFORMANCE

Under the baton of Dr. Nabil Azzam, the Multi Ethnic Star Orchestra (MESTO) gave its premiere performance March 11 at West Los Angeles College. A young Palestinian singer, Woroud, was the soloist for the program featuring the works of Dr. Azzam, Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab, Farid el-Atrache and the Rahabani Brothers.

The story behind the debut of the 35-piece orchestra is filled with the same pathos and emotion as the performance of the musicians who had practiced for six months without financial remuneration.

In 1990, Dr. Azzam received his Ph.D. degree in ethnomusicology from UCLA. In 1995, he traveled to his hometown of Nazareth, where he had been commissioned to establish the Galilee Symphony Orchestra. Just a few months after the first performance by the group, which included Russian emigres as well as Israeli Arabs, Binyamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister and funds were no longer forthcoming to the fledgling orchestra.

Dr. Azzam returned to his family in Los Angeles and over the years taught intermittently at the University of Redlands and UC Santa Barbara and composed music. Last fall, he conferred with cellist Dr. Janice Foy-Principal and the two began to recruit musicians who have performed in Southern California symphony orchestras and were inclined to learn the music of other cultures.

The result: A full Middle Eastern orchestra with nay, qanun, oud, two flutes, clarinet, 12 violins, four cellos, four violas, two basses and three percussion instruments (riqq, daf, and small and large tabla). …

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