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Ushaaq Ensemble

Vocalist Marina Alam was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh began training in the ancient classical music tradition shared by Bangladesh, India and Pakistan from the age of four. In Bangladesh she was under the tutelage of Ustad Phul Mohammed Khan and Shri Bari Majumdar after which, she continued at Dhaka Music College. Now respected soloist who performs and teaches throughout the New York tri-state area, she is the senior disciple of Pandit Jasraj. Marina has a wide repertoire that includes sacred music, mostly of the Sufi tradition.

Iraqi-American composer/musician Amir El Saffar is an accomplished santoor (Iraqi hammered dulcimer) player and singer of the Iraqi maqam. He leads Safaafir, the only US Iraqi maqam ensemble and is a sought after performing and touring artist and composer. Most recently, he performed at the Kennedy Center's Arabesque Festival. He has composed and performed music for theater and film including Heather Raffo's Nine Parts of Desire and for the soundtrack of Jonathan Demme's Oscar nominated film Rachel Getting Married.

Dena El Saffar, began studying the violin at the age of six. At age 19, while obtaining a classical music degree from Indiana University, she founded the group Salaam, an ensemble dedicated to performing the musical traditions of the Arab world, Turkey, and Greece. She later joined her brother, Amir, in forming the Iraqi Maqam ensemble, Safaafir. She has studied with Hamid Al-Saadi, Munis Sharifov, Mohammed Gomar and Anwar Abudragh, and has performed with the Master Musicians of Jajouka and Youssou N’dour.

Abdulrahim Hamidov is a master of the subtle, elegant dutar, the traditional long-necked two-stringed lute from Central Asia. A recent immigrant to the US from Uzbekistan, he has had a distinguished career and has participated in Yo Yo Ma's Silk Road project. He appears with other master musicians on that project's Smithsonian Folkways label recording.

New York based Palestinian-American Dhafer Tawil Zafer Tawil is a master of Arabic percussion with virtuoso talents on oud, violin and qanun. He has performed with numerous musicians ranging from pop star, Sting, to Arab music greats such as Simone Shaheen, Chab Mami, and Bassam Saba to avant-garde composer/performer Elliot Sharpe, among others. Zafer has composed music for a number of films including the Oscar-nominated Jonathan Demme film Rachel Getting Married.

Syrian born Faisal Zedan is recognized as a master percussionist in the Syrian and Egyptian classical and folk traditions. He is an accomplished riqq (tambourine), derbakki (Tabla--goblet drum), and tar (frame drum) with equal mastery, offering fellow performers and audiences a dazzling combination of virtuosity, subtlety, power, delicacy, assuredness, and humility.

Ushaaq Ensemble

Watch exclusive rehearsal footage of the Ushaaq ensemble.