The SHARQ Ensemble was created by Egyptian musician Karim Nagi in 1999. The word "Sharq" means "East" in the Arabic language. The goal of the group was to present authentic Arab vocal and instrumental music, using the traditional acoustic instruments. The group originally specialized in medieval Arabic music from the Andalusian and Ottoman periods. Over the past decade, the ensemble added 20th century classics from Egypt and Syria, plus regional Arabic folklore from North Africa and the Eastern Arab countries. The focus of the group has always been to revive the repertoire, style and presentation of Arab music.
The Ensemble is lead by Karim Nagi, a native of Cairo Egypt, master percussionist and proponent of traditional Arab folkloric dance. Nagi tours all over the world 45 weeks per year performing and teaching, and has authored 12 CDs and 5 DVDs. Aboud Agha is the groups lead vocalist and Oud (Arab lute) player, originally from Aleppo Syria. Agha was a premier concert and special event vocalist in the Boston area, and is now studying for a Masters in Ethnomusicology at Northern Illinois University. The ensemble is completed by Boujemaa Razgui from Marrakech Morocco. Razgui is a multi instrumentalist who has had careers in Morocco, France, Canada, and now the USA with the Sharq Ensemble.
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The SHARQ Ensemble is dedicated to preserving and presenting traditional Arabic vocal and instrumental music. Their repertoire is one that is rarely played by even the most dedicated professionals in the Arab world. SHARQ chooses vocal and instrumental pieces that illustrate the rich and buoyant possibilities of the genre, without fixating on the popular or commercial versions. SHARQ seeks to share this heritage through concerts and verbal presentations. SHARQ consists of young professional musicians from several cities in the Arab world and Turkey. Their geographic diversity demonstrates the variety of styles and heritages of the Near East, and their obvious synthesis. The musicians' youthful demeanor and performance style helps revitalize these classics, presenting them as a living art. Their education and cosmopolitan attitudes serve as a compelling and healthy representation of the modern and artistic Arab individual. With all the current political antagonisms, SHARQ utterly dissolves the fictitious dichotomy between the Arab and Western worlds.
SHARQ perform on the original and authentic acoustic instruments. Those instruments include the "Oud" fretless lute, the "Nay" bamboo flute, the "Keman" Oriental violin and the "Riqq" fish skin tambourine. SHARQ also wears custom traditional outfits with a 21st century adaptation. Karim Nagi also combines the traditional folk dances of the Arab world, such as the Egyptian "Saidi" stick dance, and the Lebanese & Palestinian "Dabke" Stomping dance, plus Sufi Darweesh.
SHARQ has performed in outdoor festivals, colleges and universities, clubs and concert halls, as well as within the Fleet Boston Celebrity series with the Boston Camerata early music ensemble, and the Boston Revels 2011 Christmas season. SHARQ has a complete verbal educational presentation that accompanies many of their performances when appropriate.
Aditional musicians joining SHARQ for specific concerts and recordings include : Jamal Sinno : qanun / Kareem Roustom : oud / Rachid Halihal : vocals & oud / Moses Naser : qanun / Nikolai Ruskin : nay, rababa, mizmar & duff / Eylem Basaldi : violin / Dalia Almarina : vocals / Hanna Khoury : violin / Mehmet Ali Sanlikol : vocals & oud / Nabawi : accordion.