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Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008

Arabesque Music Ensemble

The Music of the Three Musketeers (Xauen)

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The mission of the Arabesque Music Ensemble (formerly the Chicago Classical Oriental Ensemble) is to recreate the sounds of the Near East from earlier periods. They are like early music consorts in classical music and New Orleans revivalists in jazz. The Ensemble’s latest CD consists of songs by three Egyptian composers of the 1930s and ’40s, Zakariyya Ahmad, Muhammad al-Qasabji and Riyad al- Sunbati—roughly the Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and George Gershwin of their time and place. With painstakingly authentic arrangements, the Ensemble glides through octave-warping vocals and the mystical sheen of unearthly chords, all of it set to a steady percussive groove.