The Program

The week-long Arabic Music Retreat includes full days of private lessons, lectures, group classes and faculty-coached chamber group sessions. All participants are also welcome to join the Retreat Orchestra which rehearses in the evenings.

The morning sessions start with a daily ear- training class led by Simon Shaheen, introducing the maqamaat (modes or scales) of Arabic music as well as prominent rhythms. Next is an hour-long theory class. Currently the Retreat offers three theory levels. On some days the morning session ends with a lecture, or a lecture/demonstration.

Ear-training with Simon Shaheen
Ear-training with Simon Shaheen

After lunch, participants take private lessons and meet for group classes in various instruments. The afternoon is capped off by daily rehearsals of chamber groups. Each participant is assigned to a faculty-coached chamber group that rehearses two pieces to be performed in a recital at the end of the Retreat.

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Evenings include orchestra rehearsals, open mic sessions, an informal faculty concert, Egyptian film night, and jam sessions.

In 2016 we performed two concerts. The first featured all the chamber groups in a private concert. We also produced a public concert featuring the Retreat Orchestra and the faculty. We live-streamed our public concert on the internet.

Informal Faculty Recital performed by (L to R) Bassam Saba, William Shaheen and Charbel Rouhana in the living room at Willits Hallowell Conference Center
Informal Faculty Recital performed by (L to R) Bassam Saba, William Shaheen and Charbel Rouhana in the living room at Willits Hallowell Conference Center. Photo by 2015 Participant Su-a Lee.

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