BMS Presents “East by Middle East” (ExME): A Night of Healing & Unity Celebrating the Sounds of the Middle East and North Africa

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Brooklyn Music School (BMS) presents “East by Middle East” (ExME), an evening music festival celebrating Healing and Unity in downtown Brooklyn on May 4th 2017 from 6 to 10 p.m.

Brooklyn Music School (BMS) presents “East by Middle East” (ExME), an evening music festival celebrating Healing and Unity in downtown Brooklyn on May 4th 2017 from 6 to 10 p.m.

ExME brings a wealth of local talent to perform on the BMS Playhouse stage to highlight the ethnic diversity that makes our spectacular city shine. As part of our mission encouraging Healing and Unity, the event will send a strong message of solidarity with the many communities from the Middle East that contribute to Brooklyn’s diverse tapestry of faiths and cultures, with music drawn from the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian traditions. Council Member Laurie Cumbo will open the night with remarks in support of the contributions of those from the Middle East and North Africa who have been instrumental in building a richer and stronger Brooklyn.

“We are excited to be launching the East x Middle East Festival this year, when it could not be more timely to recognize the power of music to pull people together and form new connections across cultures,” said Crocker Coulson, Chair of the BMS Board of Trustees.

“One of the best things about being a New Yorker is the diverse culture that we all get to experience through art, film, dance, music, food, and language. Brooklyn’s Cultural District, which I proudly represent, is the perfect backdrop for a celebration that captivates our city’s unique sense of identity by blending different faiths and traditions into an unforgettable event. As a member of the New York City Council Cultural Affairs Committee, I want to thank the Brooklyn Music School for its incredible arts programming, including the ‘East by Middle East’ Music Festival that will not only inspire but unify our community,” said Laurie Cumbo, Council Member for the 35th District.

The event will feature three ensembles rooted in this large and diverse region:

  • New York Andalus Ensemble Today, a spirit of intercultural exchange is reborn in this multiethnic, multi faith group that performs in Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish, and Ladino. Drawing upon repertoire from the ninth century to the 1960s, from al-Andalus and the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia), the ensemble consists of a large choir and a wide array of traditional and modern acoustic instruments. Under the direction of ethnomusicologist and multi-instrumentalist Dr. Samuel Torjman Thomas, the ensemble is conjuring the cosmopolitan synergy of Andalusia in present-day New York.
  • Zikrayat performs traditional and modern Arab music and dance from Egypt, Syria, and the greater Arab world, highlighting rare and little-known gems from the "Golden Age" of Egyptian cinema (1930s-1960s). Founded by violinist, vocalist and composer Sami Abu Shumays, Zikrayat features a talented lineup of performers of diverse backgrounds brought together by their devotion to these rich art forms.
  • Vatan or "homeland" in Persian, is a Brooklyn-based band of Middle Eastern-American musicians blending the lines between Persian folk music and country, funk and rock. With toe-tapping jams, Vatan brings the sounds of a fun and irreverent music into your home.

A pre-concert performance workshop is open to the public, featuring artists from the ensembles presenting instruments and listening context from the region, along refreshments. In the afternoon, ExME artists will share these musical traditions in an after-school performance workshop with elementary students at Fort Greene’s Public School 20.

Tickets for the Concert and Workshop are $20 adults; $15 students. Tickets for the concert are $15 for adults; $10 for students. Reserve your tickets now at

The evening begins at 6:00pm with a “Meet the Instruments” performance workshop for the community, featuring artists from the three ensembles. The BMS Playhouse doors open at 6:30pm, with drinks and light refreshments available for purchase before the concert begins at 7:00pm.

The Brooklyn Music School is located at 126 St Felix Street in the heart of the Ft. Greene cultural district, only one block from the Barclays-Atlantic Ave subway station, and convenient to many dining options.

For more information visit our website at or contact Dr. Samuel Torjman Thomas at: (718) 638-5660 or sthomas(at)brooklynmusicschool(dot)org

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Charlie Lederer
Brooklyn Music School
since: 02/2010
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