The Okbari Middle Eastern Ensemble presents music from the richly varied contemporary and historic cultural traditions of the Middle East including 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.

Accompanying Okbari are The Barefoot Truth Dancers, a dance company that strives to change the world, one dance at a time. They fill the stage with an entrancing combination of belly dancing, improvisational movement story telling, mesmerizing colors and costumes.

The Okbari Middle Eastern Ensemble appears both as a quartet and as a duo, and has performed at venues throughout New England, the East Coast and the Midwest, including prestigious institutions such as the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago and recently enjoyed the honor of being invited to perform at the 2009 Chicago Arabesque Festival. The Ensemble has shared the stage in Istanbul, Turkey with the Kemani Serkan Ensemble and the Rumeli Meyhane Fasil Ensemble. In 2008, Ensemble oud player and vocalist Amos Libby appeared onstage as a guest percussionist with the legendary Gypsy clarinetist Selim Sesler in Istanbul.

The Okbari Middle Eastern Ensemble is Amos Libby on oud, vocals, Eric LaPerna on percussion, and Duncan Ross Hardy on qanun.

Libby began his study of Middle Eastern music and oud technique with the late oud master and composer Udi Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian. Libby currently travels to Turkey to study Ottoman classical and Turkish contemporary art music with Istanbul Conservatory veteran and oud and yayli tanbur master Osman Nuri Ozpekel, and has also studied in Istanbul with renowned oud virtuoso Necati Celik. Libby also studied with Lebanese oud master Charbel Rouhana at Simon Shaheen’s Arabic Music Retreat at Mount Holyoke College. Libby most recently studied Arabic oud technique in Rabat,Morocco with oud master Yusuf Madani of the Conservatoire Nationale de Musique Arabe. Libby is the co-director of the Bowdoin College Middle Eastern Ensemble, teaches oud as a member of the Applied Music Faculty at Bates College, and is an adjunct instructor of oud technique at Bowdoin College.

LaPerna has been a percussionist since 1987. He has studied African rhythms with Nigerian drummer Alani Ogunladi, Armenian, Greek and Turkish rhythmic systems with Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian, and Riqq, Tabla, Duff and the Iqa’at with Master Arabic percussionist Michel Merhej Baklouk. He was the lead percussionist of the late Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian’s Middle Eastern Ensemble and is a founding member of Okbari and Alhan Arabic Ensemble. LaPerna also studies the nay (Middle Eastern reed flute) with Ali Jihad Racy, Bassam Saba and Boujemaa Razgui. LaPerna is the director of the Bowdoin College Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, and is a member of the Applied Music Faculty at Bates College as well as adjunct instructor of hand percussion at Bowdoin College.

Hardy has privately studied qanun (72-stringed Middle Eastern microtonal zither) with master qanun player Jamal Sinno in Boston and Arabic music theory and performance with Dr. Ali Jihad Racy at Simon Shaheen’s Arabic music retreat at Mount Holyoke College, as well as privately with master Armenian oudist and clarinet player Mal Barsamian in Boston, Mass.

Upcoming performers in the Community Concert Series at the Starks Church include Village Harmony on Friday, July 5.

Donations will be collected to benefit the United in Christ Youth Group. For more information, contact 207-578-8024.

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