Okbari Middle Eastern Ensemble

Okbari Middle Eastern Ensemble

 Portland, Maine, USA

Music from the Arab world, Turkey, and the Armenian Diaspora.


The Okbari Middle Eastern Ensemble presents music from the richly varied contemporary and historic cultural traditions of the Middle East including Arabic classical and folk music, Ottoman Turkish Classical compositions, rural Turkish folk and devotional songs, and dance music from the Armenian and Turkish immigrant Diasporas.

The Okbari Middle Eastern Ensemble has performed at venues throughout New England, the East Coast and the Midwest, including prestigious institutions such as the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago and recently enjoyed the honor of being invited to perform at the 2009 Chicago Arabesque Festival. The Ensemble has shared the stage in Istanbul, Turkey with the Kemani Serkan Ensemble and the Rumeli Meyhane Fasil Ensemble. In 2008, Ensemble oud player and vocalist Amos Libby appeared onstage as a guest percussionist with the legendary Romani clarinetist Selim Sesler in Istanbul.

The Okbari Middle Eastern Ensemble is Amos Libby (oud, vocals), Eric LaPerna (percussion), and Duncan Ross Hardy (qanun).

Amos Libby began his study of Middle Eastern music and oud technique with the late oud master and composer Udi Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian. Amos most recently studied Arabic oud technique in Rabat,Morocco with oud master Yusuf Madani of the Conservatoire Nationale de Musique Arabe. Amos is a fluent Arabic speaker who also travels to Turkey to study Ottoman classical and Turkish contemporary art music with Istanbul Conservatory veteran and oud and yayli tanbur master Osman Nuri Ozpekel, and has also studied in Istanbul with renowned oud virtuoso Necati Celik. Amos also studied with Lebanese oud master Charbel Rouhana at Simon Shaheen's Arabic Music Retreat at Mount Holyoke College. Amos is the co-director of the Bowdoin College Middle Eastern Ensemble, teaches oud as a member of the Applied Music Faculty at Bates College, and is an adjunct instructor of oud technique at Bowdoin College.

Eric LaPerna has been a percussionist since 1987. He has studied African rhythms with Nigerian drummer Alani Ogunladi, Armenian, Greek and Turkish rhythmic systems with Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian, and Riqq, Tabla, Duff and the Iqa'at with Master Arabic percussionist Michel Merhej Baklouk. He was the lead percussionist of the late Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian's Middle Eastern Ensemble and is a founding member of Okbari and Alhan Arabic Ensemble. Eric also studies the nay (Middle Eastern reed flute) with Ali Jihad Racy, Bassam Saba and Boujemaa Razgui. Eric is the Director of the Bowdoin College Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, and is a member of the Applied Music Faculty at Bates College as well as adjunct instructor of hand percussion at Bowdoin College.

Duncan Ross Hardy has privately studied qanun (72-stringed Middle Eastern microtonal zither) with master qanun player Jamal Sinno in Boston and Arabic music theory and performance with Dr. Ali Jihad Racy at Simon Shaheen's Arabic music retreat at Mount Holyoke College, as well as privately with master Armenian oudist and clarinet player Mal Barsamian in Boston, MA.


Among the Believers (LP) 2004
By the Banks of the Red River (LP) 2005
Okbari (Self-Titled LP) 2006
Armenian and Anatolian Folk Music (LP) 2007
Raqs al Shavarsh (LP) 2008
Türkü: Mystical Music of the Turkish Troubadours {LP} 2010

Set List

Our setlist typically is tailored to suit the event, venue, and needs or requests of our audience and event promoters. We have in our repetoire an extensive collection of Turkish classical and contemporary instrumental and vocal music, Arabic classical and folk instrumental compositions, rural Turkish dance and poetic devotional music, and Armenian folk vocal and instrumental music from Anatolia and modern-day Armenia. We also present Greek and Balkan instrumental and vocal selections upon request.