The Cal Poly Arab Music Ensemble will perform their spring concert with the Zaryab Ensemble at 7:30 p.m. on June 4.
This year’s spring concert will be joined by the Zaryab Ensemble, a group of musicians from Iran and Tajikistan based in the San Francisco Bay Area and greater Sacramento area.
“The [spring concert] is particularly significant as it concludes the year of the return of COVID isolation,” Kenneth Habib, director of the Cal Poly Arab Ensemble and music teacher at Cal Poly.
During the quarantine, the ensemble members had to switch to a virtual format. Habib said the ensemble “has done an amazing job adapting to virtual encounter, continuing to be musically active, and breaking new thresholds in performing and producing music.”
When home orders were lifted, the ensemble had to rebuild as a live performance group. He also had to catch up on previous plans and commitments that fell through due to COVID-19, Habib said.
This will be the third year that the Zaryab Ensemble joins the Cal Poly Arab Music Ensemble which is a combined orchestra and choir with vocal and instrumental soloists.
“The last time they were supposed to be here was in March 2020, when I had to cancel the concert two days in advance due to COVID – a difficult task indeed,” Habib said.
Both ensembles perform independently and in collaboration. These performances include a regional folk song sung in both Arabic, Persian and Sephardi. There will also be a dance troupe led by San Luis Obispo dance director Jenna Mitchell. The troupe will perform “original choreography as an extension of a long collaboration of music and dance in the concerts of the Arab Music Ensemble”, according to a press release.
“One of the missions of the Arab Music Ensemble is for its members and audiences to experience high quality Arabic and related music at Cal Poly and the Central Coast,” Habib said. “The amount of associated diversity in the South West Asia and North Africa region is huge, and while we can’t cover it all, we bring the parts of it that we can do well to the community. .”
The Cal Poly Music Department’s Arabic Music Ensemble performs quarterly.