We are the Grossmont College Middle East Ensemble, the first of it's kind in San Diego county. Stage name: Caravan World Music Ensemble, we are open to all instruments and levels, with players from both the college and the community, and specializing in musics from the vast Afro-Asiatic region known these days as the "Middle East".
Grossmont Middle East Ensemble (GMEE) was offered as 1-unit class by the Grossmont College Music Department in the Fall of 2019. Directed by Farhad Bahrami, here are the founding members of the ensemble:
Joan Thompson: oud - Richard Johnson: nay - Tamia Dowlatabadi: qanun - Brandon Wallace: oud - Frederick Reed: accordion - Randa Jalo: piano - Angelica Pruitt: bass - Ian Marquez: guitar - Farzaneh Foroughi: daf - Hector Delgado: dumbek - Lily Gonzalez: percussion - Eric Bronson: dumbek - David Deutsch: guitar - Jesus Perfecto: guitar - Gabrielle Nagtalon: cello - Karla Aguirre: cello - Stacey Barnett: voice - Rebecca Romani: voice - Eileen Conway: voice, conga - Katayoun Hutson: voice, dance + Sylvia Hansen: flute + Aico Simon: voice + Sina Rezvanpour: santur.
Even with different backgrounds and instruments, in our very first semester we performed two successful concerts - one together with the Grossmont College Afro-Cuban Ensemble.
To think that Middle Eastern (ME) music is one music, would be to ignore the long histories and diverse cultures of peoples from Afghanistan all the way through North Africa to Spain. With deep and varied roots, in modern times ME music has fused with various classical, pop, and jazz musics to offer an even wider variety of musics.
Voices and any instrument! Mostly acoustic instruments, but electric is ok. Helpful to have "quarter-tone" capability, but not required - i.e. piano & guitar ok. Oud, qanun, and nay flute are some of the main traditional instruments well-suited to ME musics.
The recordings here were done during the Spring of 2020 when classes were moved online. Basic tracks with singer (Stacey) and percussion (Farzaneh) were recorded at the Grossmont College Media Arts studios, initially as learning tools for the class. Once online, players contributed parts that were added on top of the basic tracks. Many tunes include qanun and nay. "Purple" includes santur. "Navai" and "Asfur" feature Aico's vocal harmonies. Ian is featured on guitar on 3 tracks, and we have an opening taqsim by Brandon. All in all a great project to remember Spring 2020 by: "Letter from Home".