Orchestra of Tangier to Present Rare Performances of Morocco’s Classical Music

Guest vocalist Abderrahim Souir will Join Traditional Eight-Piece Ensemble in Program of Andalusian Suites

In September of 2007, a handful of U.S. cities will host rare performances by Morocco’s ORCHESTRA OF TANGIER. Performing mystical music from the country’s centuries-old Andalusian tradition, the orchestra will perform a series of concerts beginning on Sept 8th in Los Angeles at UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall and including Boston’s Benjamin Franklin Institute and the Chicago World Music Festival. The tour also includes two appearances in New York City – a full headlining program at CUNY’s Proshansky Auditorium and a shorter program for the SummerStage World Music Festival.

Saturday Sept 8 :: Los Angeles, CA,
UCLA Schoenberg Hall

Thursday Sept 13 :: Boston, MA
Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology

Friday Sept 14 :: New York, NY
CUNY Graduate Ctr./Proshansky Aud.

Sunday Sept 16 :: New York, NY
Summerstage New York World Festival

w/ Hassan Hakmoun and others
Monday Sept 17 :: Chicago, IL
Chicago World Music Festival/Bradley Hall

Al-Ala, the thousand-year-old Andalusian repertoire that Orchestra of Tangier preserves is one that rarely is performed in public, even in Morocco. Intensely mystical and poetic, it is not performed as “entertainment” but rather to induce a contemplative, often trance-like state.

Orchestra of Tangier is directed by Sheikh Ahmed Zaitouni, the 76-year old founder of the Conservatory of Tangier and widely considered the last of the living legends of Moroccan music. He has devoted a lifetime to preserving and performing the Andalusian nubas, or vocal suites that trace their history to refugees from the Reconquista in Spain. Of the original 24 suites in the tradition, only 11 have survived. Unlike Algeria and Tunisia, Morocco did not fall under Ottoman rule, and as a result Morocco’s Andalusian music is generally considered closer to its source, i.e., less influenced by Middle Eastern musical styles.

While the Orchestra of Tangier in its modern form has expanded to include sixteen members, for the U.S. dates it will perform in the smaller, more traditional Andalusian configuration of eight musicians. The orchestra features master musicians performing on the rebab, oud, violin, viola, tar, and darbouka. They will be joined by special guest vocalist Abderrahim Souri, one of the most sought-after Andalusian vocalists in Morocco.

The ensemble and its individual members have received international recognition for their recordings of traditional Andalusian instrumental suites, touring extensively in Europe and the Arab world as well as recording over a dozen CD’s of sacred and secular music from the tradition.

The city of Tangier, until recently a decaying port largely avoided by tourists, is now in the midst of an explosive rebirth, with monumental new construction projects underway that include the world-class Tangier-Mediterranean port, huge industrial parks, and a 45,000-seat sports stadium. Its population has quadrupled in the last two decades and the city now boasts more than a million inhabitants. Yet none of these developments threaten Orchestra of Tangier’s future. Each year, more students seek out the Conservatory, committed to carrying on the Orchestra’s mission and the Andalusian traditions that remain the spiritual soul of Tangier.


Ahmed Zaitouni musical direction & viola
Jamal Eddine Ben Allal violin
Larbi Akrim oud (lute)
Mostafa Tsouli oud (lute)
Ahmed Al Ghazi rebab (spike fiddle)
Mokhtar Tligui tar (long-necked lute)
Larbi Haddad darbuka (goblet drum)
Mohammed El Arabi Serghini vocal & viola
Abderrahim Souiri special guest vocal


Program I for 2-hour concerts

Part 1 (Duration: 50 minutes)
Tawashi Qaim wa Nisf al Istihlal
San’at atlafta wa Yaouahida
Inchaad & Insiraf Qaim wa Nisf al Istihilal
Mawaal (solo vocal improvisation)
Insiraf Btayhi al Rasd al Dayle

--- Intermission --

Part 2 (Duration: 50 minutes)
Tawshiyat Quddam al Ouchchaq
San’at Koum ya Khalili
Tahrou zahri Bassim
Inchaad wa Insiraf al Quuddam


Abbreviated Program II for Central Park SummerStage (Duration: 45 minutes)

Nuba Rasd
Rythme al Bassit Insiraf
Taqsim Oud Maqam al Hijaz
Insiraf al Quddam