By Sami Asmar
Morocco and the entire Arab World can take pride
in seeing the rise of the next diva of Arab song,
Karima Skalli, who will inevitably reach incredible
heights rarely seen today, but reminiscent of the
age of giants of the last century.The native of
city of Fes was discovered at the age of 9 when
she sang Umm Kulthum songs at family gatherings.
As she developed her repertoire, she sang the works
of other great singers but took special interest
in Asmahan, the late Syrian Druz princess who moved
to Egypt as a child with her mother and later famous
brother Farid al-Atrache. Asmahan died at a young
age in a mysterious accident after having left an
incredible set of songs that are still appreciated
by many generations of music enthusiasts. Karima
is inspired by the Asmahan's voice. After early
collaboration with the Moroccan composer Said Chraibi,
she is now in demand for collaboration with the
top Arab poets and composers.In her elegant and
gentle style, Karima succeeded where many have failed
by taking her art seriously, received musical training
to enhance her incredible talent. Karima took her
Moroccan heritage, home of the Andalusían
arts, to Aleppo, Beirut, Cairo, and the entire globe
to continue a journey of learning music of varying
backgrounds, showing her discipline and professional
approach to the art, which had earned her tremendous
respect.Already called the Golden Voice, among other
titles, in a short period of time, she became the
featured artists of renowned festivals from Lebanon's
Beiteddin to Cairo's Arab Music Festival. Thanks
to Karima Skalli, the endangered state of tarab
and enchantment is alive and prospering.
was born in Nazareth in 1983 to a music-loving family.
At the age of 13, she started singing Palestinian
folk songs at parties and social gatherings. She
became famous for her performances of classical
songs of Umm Kulthum. The first song she recorded,
"Ana Albi wi-Rohi Fadak" (my heart and
soul is for you) was rated in the top ten on local
radio stations for several weeks. Her second song,
"Bokra Jdeed," was in the top five of
the Euromedcafe "other song" contest for
intercultural dialogue and peace. Dalal combines
tarab (classical Arabic music) with folk music,
and makes use of many melodic modes (maqamat) and
rhythms. She has participated in festivals around
the world. Most recently, Dalal performed with the
MESTO Orchestra from Los Angeles under maestro Nabil
Azzam at the 2007 Jerash Festival. In addition to
her musical career, Dalal is a student of cognitive
and brain sciences at Technion Institute in Haifa,
where she is training to be a neuroscientist. She
is married to Dr. Anana Abbasi who also writes some
of the lyrics of her songs. Dalal is a star that
many see in her voice continuation of the great
traditional music of the Middle East.
budding star, Zahra began performing in youth
theatre in her native Morocco at an early age.
She traveled as a singer in Egypt, Beirut, Tunisia,
and Europe before settling in Los Angeles in the
early 1980s. She studied music theory and classical
voice, and has worked as a freelance singer all
over the United States and Canada. In 1991, she
produced her first CD, titled "Bidaya Wa
Nihaya," in collaboration with composer Mr.
Fahim Saadi. One of her recent performances was
at the Arab-American Festival in Garden Grove,
CA. Zahra admires great singers like Fayza Ahmad,
Layla Murad, Warda, and Asmahan. In addition to
her singing career, Zahra is an aspiring cinematographer
and filmmaker. She has enjoyed singing with MESTO's
diverse instrumentalists, and hopes that the audience
will share her enthusiasm.
a young girl she sang with the San Diego Children's
Choir and was there youngest soloist in the group.
She began singing opera at the end of her high
school career. First taking voice lessons from
opera singer Lenore Silby. Now Anna studies with
the ARC Academy of Sound And Music with Pandeli
Lasarideus, and performs with the Small Opera
of San Diego. This year she studied the part of
Lola in the opera "Cavalira Rusticana".
Anna plans to audition for the Metropolitan Opera
at the end of this year. In December 2003 she
was crowned Miss California Teen. She has performed
with MESTO back in 2004 at the Redondo Beach Perfroming
Arts Center where she captured the audience
with her performance. In 2006 she was scheduled
to perform with MESTO in Jordan. Instead the orchestra
and Anna-Suzette performed at Schoenberg Hall
has shown herself to be a flutist with a deep
and varied talent. After completing her bachelor's
degree and further studies with Roger Stevens
and Jimmy Walker of the LA Philharmonic, she started
a successful freelance career based in Los Angeles.
She has been in demand in the studios for television,
movie and cable/video productions. Her live performances
have included principal flutist with the Korean
Symphony at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, featured
soloist with West Valley Chamber Orchestra, and
performances at the Ambassador Auditorium. She
has been a featured soloist with the Chamber Music
Society of California, the American Guitar Society
International, and has performed internationally
presenting musical styles ranging from ragtime
to middle eastern, chamber music to light jazz.
She was the recipient of a gold record for her
flute playing on the Linda Ronstadt album "Canciones
de Mi Padre".
recently she has recorded for harpist Stephanie
Bennett on several of her solo albums, including
this summer's release "Lumiere". She
is the flutist for Angels of Venice and can be
heard on several of their CD's, most prominently
their biggest selling release "Angels of
Venice" on Windham Hill records. Her recorder
expertise and ethnic flute playing can be heard
featured on such diverse recording projects as
the top-selling video from Amazon "George
Lucas in Love", Jim Centorino's "Three
Dreams", Hap Palmer's latest release for
children "One Little Sound", and the
Celtic Chamber Consort's premiere release of their
first album of the same name. In 2005 she was
a featured soloist on the album, "The Crescent"
by the MESTO Orchestra, and the film score for
the Hallmark film, "The Colt". Her great
love of Jazz and ethnic music constantly leads
her into new directions which combine elements
of dance, new age and world music.
began studying the harp as a junior high school
student in Ann Arbor, Michigan, after having studied
some guitar and piano as a child. She continued
her studies of classical harp performance with
Ruth Dean Clark at the University of Michigan,
where she also studied composition with Pulitzer
Prize winning composers Leslie Bassett and Ross
Lee Finney. She continued her music studies at
the Dick Grove School of Music and at UCLA Extension,
with courses in Advanced Modern Harmony, Arranging,
20th Century Harmony, Film Scoring, etc.
Stephanie lives in the Los Angeles area, where
she composes, records and produces her own CDs,
composes music which has been heard on television
shows such as MURPHY BROWN, PARTY OF FIVE and
THE SINGLE GUY, and on the feature film A TIME
FOR DANCING; writes musical arrangements for other
artists (including arrangements for Celtic harpist
Julie Mondin, rocker Ozzie Osbourne, Native American
flute player Golana, Celtic fiddler Mary Barton,
New Age ensemble Midnight Skye, and alternative
songstress Chloé), , She composes chamber
music which has been performed by ensembles such
as "Entr'amis" (classical harp, flute
and viola trio), and "Campanile", (renowned
contemporary handbell ensemble).
is an International Star. Her wish is to help
Americans of all ages; children, young, and old
appreciate opera through her "Popera"(pop/opera).
Marinella has a powerful and rich voice. She delivers
captivating and unforgettable performances. Her
voice is often described like one of an angel's.
Marinella is an active performer in the Los Angeles
area, performs in well-established venues.Even
though Ms. Marinell Nittu mostly appeared with
bands, she is proving that she can do a great
job with big orchestras such as MESTO. When Ms.
Nittu first came to audition for MESTO, the musician
and the orchestra friends felt her talent and
gave her thumbs up. To complete circuit, conductor
Azzam says, Mr. Shelly Cohen was immediately alerted:
We need three new arrangements! As usual his answer
was "by when?" Four days later the arrangements
were completed. Ms. Nittu's performance with MESTO
had a great responses from the audience.
has been playing the bouzouki for over 20 years
and, even though he is American born, his playing
exemplifies the true sound and style of this Greek
instrument. He has appeared on several TV shows
and recorded for many Greek and Armenian productions.
He still tours the western states (including Alaska
and Hawaii) with the "Hellenic Sounds,"
which perform for the largest Greek festivals
and events. The Hellenic Sounds latest recording
is "Two Homelands"
singer Mr. Samir Rizq was
born in Syria where since his youth was performing
in school and social activities. Later he was
associated with several professional groups who
performed live and recorded for the state- sponsored
radio and TV station in Damascus. In the early
1980s Mr. Rizq started a successful tour in Canada
and the U.S. in Montreal, Michigan, Massachusetts,
New Jersey and California.
Mr. Samir Rizq performs continuously in community
social activities and music festivals.
For his expressive and strong voice on stage,
he is often referred to as "Al-Mutrib al-Aseel"
(deeply rooted in the music traditions). Mr. Rizq
is truly a master of the traditional folk genres
of Syria and the Levant. He has also held this
distinction in the Middle Eastern community in
Los Angeles for the last twenty years.
Artist Dr. Antoine Mansour
considered the founding father of this orchestra.
Together with his wife Claire they gave their
blessings and contribution for the legal status
of the organization. Dr. Mansour graduated from
the medical school in Cairo University and in
1973 started a successful medical career in Hollywood
as a surgeon. He is also a clinical professor
of surgery at UCLA School of Medicine and an active
staff member in several medical institutions such
as Harbor UCLA, Queen of Angels, Saint Vincent
Medical Center, Glendale Memorial Medical Center
and Hollywood Presbyterian and Temple Hospital.
Dr. Mansour is a member of numerous associations
of surgery and the author of several medical publications.
His social activity is rich and diverse. One of
the posts that Dr. Mansour held was the President
of the Los Angeles Convention and Exhibition Center
Antoine Mansour has a beautiful voice and he only
sings in his church. Tonight we will be delighted
to hear him sing two songs of the celebrated composer
Elie Choueiry and another song from the repertoire
of the Lebanese Superstar Tony Hanna.
Dr. and Mrs. Claire Mansour live in Beverly Hills
and have two beautiful daughters; Dr. Marie Mansour,
orthodontist and Dr. Natalie Mansour, pediatric
dentist, both recently graduated.
Omranifar, a Tar virtuoso and composer, has
performed with orchestras in Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan
and throughout the USA and also masterfully plays
several other ethnic instruments: the Iranian
Tar, Seh-Tar, ud and the Baghlama.
received his early training from Azerbaijan's
well-known master of the Tar, Mahmud Shaterian
and graduated with honors with a B.A. in Music
in 1998 from the Tehran Institute of Fine Arts
in Iran. He began his professional career as an
orchestra player with the Iranian National Radio
and Television music production unit with which
he recorded numerous pieces for broadcast and
performed in many live concerts throughout Iran.
the distinction of being the first Tar player
in the USA to perform a concerto with an orchestra,
Omranifar played the work of Azerbaijani composer
Haji Khanmammadov with the La Mirada Symphony
orchestra in Southern California on January 2002
under conductor Leon Guide. This Tar concerto
debut was featured in the Winter 2001 issue of
"Azerbaijan International" magazine
was born in Syria. At the age of 6, she gave her
first singing performance at her school where
her peers admired her talent. Laurette says: "It
is a gift of God and my mother". Her mother was
also a naturally gifted amateur singer. To be
able to perform music Laurette joined the church's
choir since it was the only venue permissible
for girls to sing. But she hoped to perform for
the public secular songs. Laurette deeply admires
and performs the songs of famous female singers
such as, Umm Kulthum (Egypt), Asmahan (Egypt),
Nur al-Huda (Lebanon) and Fayruz.(Lebanon). Since
she lived in the United States, Laurette gave
several concerts in collaboration with other singers
and dancers. After continuous encouragement of
Dr. Nabil Azzam, Laurette is back into singing
in the church's choir and collaborating with MESTO
where she is having pleasure and new experience.
Zolfagharkhani (Zolani) was born in 1970 in
a very small town in Iran. He began training music
relatively early, at the age of 14, and started
composing music at the age of 18. He studied classic
music and received his Bachelor degree in music
composition in 1998. He got many awards for his
creative composing in different competitions. One
of his most important contributions to the field
of music has been his invention of a Chromatic Santour
.It should be pointed out that with current traditional
tuning of the Santour, it is only possible to perform
the diatonic intervals, meaning that musicians could
not use the Santour in classical orchestras. Kourosh
? new method of tuning the Santour has offered him
the capacity to perform altered notes and chromatic
intervals at the scale of two and half octaves.
Glory of Life, Shabnam, Peaceful Planet, My Childhood
Dream and Didar are some of his famous pieces that
are arranged for the Chromatic Santour and the Symphony
Kourosh was one of the last students of Master Faramarze
Payvar, who is the most famous Santour player in
Persian music history. During the last 12 years
he has performed many concerts both as a soloist
and also as a Santour player in different orchestras.
All of the performances were fantastic and attracted
large audiences. Kourosh has come to America recently,
and during this short time he has performed in many
different festivals and venues
born in Zababdeh near Jenin, Palestine. She grew
up in a musical gifted family that played various
instruments such as the 'ud, qanun and buzuq.
Miss Woroud was nine years old when she started
performing with a small group of her family members.
At nineteen she joined several musical and dance
ensembles. She was a lead singer for folk and
dance groups, most importantly: "Firqat
Sharaf lil-funun ash-Sharqiyyah", "Firqat
Asayil al-Sarraj" and "Zayrat
Woroud also sang with the choir at the University
of Birzeit. In 1997 the Ministry of Arts and Cultures
presented her with a grant to study traditional
classical Arabic singing known as "al-Muwashshahat"
California, she recently performed with at the
forth "Arab American Festival" in Fullerton
and has performed with Kan Zaman Community Ensemble
in Los Angeles.
Miss Woroud performed with MESTO in its debut
concert on March 11, 2001
Guest Singer with MESTO on Nov. 25, 2001) Our
talented singer, is one of the few who carry on
the legacy of the late Egyptian singer Abdel Halim
Hafez (d. 1977). His voice is a combination of
sweet articulations and delicate expressions.
Mr. Hamid has lived in Los Angeles with his family
for the last twenty-five years. He successfully
participated in numerous musical events such as
the Arab-American Day Festival held annually in
Los Angeles. Our leading singer also recorded
many songs composed by well-known musicians such
as Hasan Abu Saud and Adel Mourci. His life's
dream is to see a comprehensive and just solution
for the Palestinians who since 1948 live in harsh
conditions and refugee camps.
Cohen was educated at Brooklyn College and
Juilliard. He became the Assistant Musical Director
of the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson, and
remained so for 30 years until Carson's retirement
in 1992. For more than 25 years Mr. Cohen has
been a part of America's music community, having
led the Los Angeles Pops, Virginia Pops and Pasadena
Pops orchestras as guest conductor. Mr. Cohen
is also the founding director of the New Horizon
Singers, an 80-voice choir that performs several
concerts a year. His musical compositions and
arrangements cover a broad range from classical
to pops. In addition, he has produced and recorded
many albums for various record companies, two
of which were nominated for Grammy Awards. Mr.
Cohen arranged several works for Mesto including
Miserlou; Spanish Sephrdic Medley; Nover On Sunday,
The Carnival of Venice and about ten other compositions
that have not yet been performed by MESTO.
Alipour began studying the tar at Tehran
School of Music under the guidance of master Ali
Akbar Shahnazi. Later he attended Tehran University
with leading musicians such as Huseyn Ali Zadeh
and Ali Rahbari. There he enriched his knowledge
of Persian classical music theory and studied
setar, daff and traditional singing. Mr.
Alipour's compositions and arrangements have been
featured in 25 albums, among them Darwishan
for the famous female singer Homayra and Ayaneh
Dar Ayaneh for the renowned singer Aref. Before
coming to the United States in 1991, Mr. Alipour
performed regularly on Persian Radio and television
stations in Tehran with the celebrated orchestra
Samaei. His song Hallaj Vashan was performed
by MESTO when he also was fratured as tar
Ahmadi was born and raised in Tehran, Iran.
He has lived with his family in Los Angeles since
1986. He received his training in Persian music
with Kamil Alipour and studied western classical
music at Pierce College. Mr. Ahmadi will release
his first record album this winter. In his recording
he performs Persian song in the classical style,
employing Persian instruments such as the tar,
setar, daff and Persian violin (ghaychack).
Most of these songs are written by the celebrated
Persian classical poets, Rumi and Hafez. Tonight
Mr. Ahmadi will sing two of his favorite songs,
"Hallaj Vashan" and "Ilahi Naz."
Guest Artist with MESTO on Nov. 25, 2001
Byers. A multi-talented musician. Violinist,
pianist, violist, teacher and arranger, Betty Byers
has worked as arranger for television, commercials
and recorded libraries, specializing in different
styles of chamber music. Ms. Byers worked for many
years as a recording musician in major studios,
playing in orchestras for such artists as Frank
Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Vanessa Williams, Prince,
Snoop Doggy Dog, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson.
Ms. Byers has taught chamber music and jazz at the
Henry Mancini Institute. Recently she completed
a collection of original pop music for recorded
library. Ms. Byers has participated with MESTO since
it was established and played in its debut concert
on March 11, 2001.
Joseph Chamaa is a multi-ethnic musician. He
began his musical activities in 1957 by joining
the broadcasting orchestra of Egypt as a first violin,
and then he moved to Lebanon and joined the Conservatory
of Lebanon for 23 years, and the BBC broadcasting
orchestra performing hundreds of recording sessions.
He is a violinist, pianist, composer, and arranger.
Forty years teaching violin and playing in Symphonic
orchestras. As a soloist he performed in many weddings
and private parties. More than ten years he performed
as a pianist in different hotels and restaurants.
In his tour around the world he joined the Fairuz
group in their concerts all over the U.S.A. England,
Germany, France, Belgium, Algeria, Morocco, Syria,
Jordan and the U.A.E. He also performed for the
Pope in the Vatican. In 1976 he created the Concept
Violorelax, which is a suite of 20 calming melodies
composed for relaxation and sold in the pharmacies
of Lebanon. In the U.S.A. he performed in the TV
shows of Murphy Brown and the Young and the Restless.
Now he is teaching violin privately and in schools,
while still performing with New Valley Symphony
orchestra, and MESTO.
Miller, composer and MESTO violinist and violist,
has written his second work for MESTO, his Romanian
Suite. His Greek Suite was premiered
by Mesto in its first concert. Mr. Miller has over
30 years experience as a professional violinist
and has played in numerous recordings, films, television
and commercial sound-tracks. He received a B.A.
in composition and an M.A. in ethnomusicology from
UCLA. Although a specialist in the folk music of
Eastern Europe, Mr. Miller has considerable playing
experience and theoretical understanding of music
in areas as diverse as the Near East, Mexico and
the Anglo-American tradition. As composer, his film
and television credits include: Tale from Arab
Detroit (1995 documentary film produced by Access
and Olive Branch Productions); screen credit for
"Ali's Tune" and Dr. Quinn Medicine
Woman (3 episodes from 1993-1995).
was born in Syria. He grew up in Damascus and moved
to the United States in the early 1980's. Mr. Roustom
has studied at the Berklee College of Music, Northeastern
University and the University of Massachusetts at
Lowell where he received a B.A. in Music Business
and Performance. He has also studied with renowned
jazz pedagogue, Charlie Banacos and Harvard University
faculty composer, Michael Gandolfi. Mr. Roustom
is an experienced guitarist and 'ud player.
Some of his session works include Brooklyn South
(NBC) and Dilbert (UPN). Mr. Roustom is also
a talented composer. Television credits include
arranging and orchestrating music for NBC's Cold
Feet and Showtime's Beggars and Choosers.
He has also received the Pete Carpenter Fellowship
which entitled him to an apprenticeship with television
composer, Mike Post. Recently, Mr. Roustom composed
music for MTV's Undressed, and scored the
independent film Shadow Glories. Mr. Roustom
joined MESTO and played the 'ud since it was founded.
He also arranged Longa Kurd by Jamil Owaise and
Avraham Avinu, variations by Nabil Azzam; and Inta
'Umri (song of Umm Kulthum) and Sama'i Kurd both