BatesDowntown concerts continues with Middle Eastern ensemble


LEWISTON — The Okbari Middle Eastern Ensemble will bring music from the Turkish, Arabic and Armenian cultures to the BatesDowntown concert series on Friday, March 2.

The 5 p.m. performance at 22 Park St., the former Maple Room, is open to the public at no cost.

Okbari’s repertoire includes Ottoman Turkish classical compositions, rural Turkish folk and devotional songs, Arabic classical and folk music, and dance music from the Armenian and Turkish immigrant diasporas.

Making up the ensemble are Amos Libby, oudist, singer; Eric LaPerna, percussionist; Michael Gallant, violinist; and Carl Dimow, flutist.

The ensemble appears as a duo, trio and a quartet, and has performed at venues throughout New England, the East Coast and the Midwest.

Okbari also performs with world-renowned Armenian-American clarinet virtuoso Mal Barsamian, and has performed in Istanbul with the Kemani Serkan and Rumeli Meyhane Fasil ensembles.

Three members of the band studied or regularly performed with the late, revered oud master and composer Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian, a member of the Bates class of 1973.

Libby, a student of Bardezbanian, travels to Turkey to study Ottoman classical and Turkish contemporary art music. He is co-director of the Bowdoin College Middle Eastern Ensemble and an adjunct instructor of oud technique at Bowdoin, and teaches oud at Bates.

LaPerna was lead percussionist of Bardezbanian’s Middle Eastern Ensemble and is a founding member of Okbari and the Alhan Arabic Ensemble. He is director of the Bowdoin College Middle Eastern Music Ensemble and adjunct instructor of hand percussion at Bowdoin, and is also a member of the Bates applied music faculty.

Gallant has studied Arabic classical violin with renowned Palestinian violin and oud master Simon Shaheen, and was violinist for Bardezbanian’s Middle Eastern Ensemble.

Dimow is an eclectic musician whose performances on flutes and guitar include classical, jazz, klezmer, blues and traditional folk music. He has appeared in performances and school residencies in the United States, Europe and Central America. He also performs with the Casco Bay Tummlers klezmer band, the Kolosko-Dimow Duo and the World Flute Trio. He is a member of the applied music faculty at Colby College and teaches in the Portland area.

The series will continue with concerts on the first Fridays of April and May. For more information, call 786-6135 or email [email protected]