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About us

The Middle East Music Ensemble at the University of Chicago is a 45 piece orchestra that was established by the Music Department in 1997, to provide a performance space in which theoretical, practical and historical interests in Middle Eastern music could be explored, and performers from across the university and the neighboring community could share their expertise and learn from one another.

The ensemble is committed to the study and performance of a wide range of Middle Eastern music, with a certain emphasis on those underpinned by the theory and practice of maqam. It has performed on campus at various events since its establishment and its concerts at The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts are regularly "sold out" events. We rehearse throughout the year on Thursday evenings and invite any and all to come and join us at these rehearsals; participation is open to all students and to experienced community members.

The Middle East Music Ensemble explores a variety of classical, neo-classical, and popular forms from throughout the Middle East, encompassing compositional and improvisational techniques unique to non-Western musical culture. Members perform on traditional instruments, often in company with noted guest artists, in multiple concerts both on and off campus.  No prior experience in the genre is required.

The Middle East Music Ensemble hosts an open house meeting at the beginning of autumn quarter in lieu of auditions; all interested musicians and novices are invited to attend. The ability to read music is required.

The ensemble performs on Traditional Instruments such as the `ud, baglama, nay (ney), qanun (kanun), clarinet (klarinet), accordion sharqi, violin (Kaman), viola, cello, and double bass. The ensemble also uses a variety of Middle Eastern percussion instruments such as darbukkah, riqq, and tar (bendir, mazhar).

The current director of MEME is composer, violinist and distinguished buzuq player Wanees Zarour.

To Join MEME please fill out the Membership Form and Mail it to:

Middle East Music Ensemble University of Chicago Department of Music, GoH 309 1010 E. 59th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637
Or via E-mail (wbz@uchicago.edu) or Fax: (773) 753-0558
For more info please call (773) 702-8484