UCSB’s Middle East Ensemble Returns In First Performance Since Lock-Downs

The UCSB Middle East Ensemble has been performing internationally since 1989 under the direction of MEE founder and UCSB ethnomusicology professor Scott Marcus. Their performances, which have spanned as far as Egypt to perform over a two-week period in a series of concerts sponsored by the Egyptian government’s Ministry of Culture, were forced to a halt when the COVID-19 lockdowns came to place in March 2020. For the first time since the lockdowns, the Ensemble returned on November 20, 2021 to give what many described as an “ethereal” performance, leading the audience through a night of Arab, Turkish, Persian, Armenian, Greek, Jewish, and Assyrian music, accompanied by choreography led by award-winning performer and MEE’s main choreographer, Cris! Basimah.

TVSB would like to specially thank Carol Katsouleas, a committed supporter of the Ensemble, who started a GoFundMe page that allowed TVSB to cover the Ensemble’s special comeback concert. Numerous audience members and members of the ensemble were heard throughout the night expressing their gratitude for being able to return (with COVID-19 safety protocols in place) to hear the music that means so much to them, and that hearing the music took them to a place in their minds that was exhilarating and uplifting.

Middle East Ensemble