A collaboration between the Albrecht Music Library and the Department of Music, Music in the Stacks brings Penn musicians into library spaces for drop-in, public performances throughout the semester.
In this installment, members of the Penn Arab Music Ensemble, directed by Hanna Khuri, will present popular songs from the Arab world. These songs capture the region’s intricate musical and political history in the twentieth century.
Plan Your Visit
Free and open to the public; no registration needed. Penn faculty, staff, and students must swipe their PennCard for access. Visitors from outside the Penn community must present a a current, valid government or school-issued photo I.D. that contains an expiration date. Find more information to plan your visit.
The Penn Arab Music Ensemble
The Penn Arab Music Ensemble explores a wide range of Arab musical genres and participates in performances hosted and organized by the Department of Music.
The Penn Arab Music Ensemble is modeled after Firqat Al-Musiqa al- ‘Arabiyya (Arab Music Ensemble), an ensemble formed in Cairo in 1967 to preserve and disseminate a category of music commonly referred to as traditional Arab Music. Due to the wide public reception of this ensemble, it was replicated in many cities in Egypt and across the Arab world. Today, in addition to the takht, the firqah ensemble remains the dominant mechanism for the performance and preservation of traditional Arab music.
The ensemble consists of a choir and an instrumental section. In the choir, students experience the intricate melodic and rhythmic modes popular in Arab music, they experience the linguistic diversity of the Arab World by singing in classical Arabic and colloquial Arabic dialects, and learn about the historical contexts that gave rise to many of these musical expressions. The Arabic choir is ideal for students interested in the region’s music, history, and language. A select number of qualified singers will get the opportunity to work one-on-one with Music Director Hanna Anis Khuri throughout the semester. They will appear as soloists with the ensemble and perform recitals at different events at Penn. In the instrumental section, students explore performance practices, musical forms and genres, instruments, and melodic/rhythmic modes central in Traditional Arab Music. This section is ideal for musicians wishing to explore the Arab musical tradition.