History


The National Arab Orchestra (NAO) is known the world over for outstanding quality concerts and its innovative approach to performances. We also undertake a wide range of musical projects with commercial and community partners. While we work regularly with a range of venues and festivals, we are always excited to hear from new community partners we can work with to bring the NAO’s performances to new and un-reached audiences.


The National Arab Orchestra (hereinafter “NAO”) began in 2009 as a student ensemble at the University of Michigan under the direction of Michael Ibrahim.  Following the first concert, the ensemble doubled in size to become an orchestra and began rehearsing for its next concert on January 28, 2010 at Britton Recital Hall.  The success of the past two concerts led Michael to establish the orchestra’s nonprofit entity under the name, Michigan Arab Orchestra in the spring of 2010.  
Under the leadership of its founder and music director, the orchestra established a second chamber group (the takht ensemble) which had its first performance in December of 2010.  With its continued expansion, the organization began to gain the support of its community which included the addition of the orchestra’s co-founders, Usama Baalbaki, Moose Scheib, and Dr. Vasken Artinian.  
Within the next three years the Michigan Arab Orchestra quickly established itself as the Nation’s leading organization for Arab music, which led the orchestra to its home at the Detroit Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts in 2012 and culminating in the orchestra’s first major grant from the Knight Foundation in 2013.  
From there the Michigan Arab Orchestra began its Building Bridges Through Music (BBTM) program, which began in the Detroit Public School System. The BBTM program was designed to teach students about the beauty and richness of the Arab culture while providing opportunities for cultural understanding and enrichment.  
On January 26, 2014, the National Arab Orchestra made its national debut at the Woodruff Arts Center (Atlanta Symphony Hall).  
Since then, the orchestra began collaborating on a string of projects which  have included: the Haflah concert with the Michigan Philharmonic premiering an original score by Grammy nominated composer Kareem Roustom.
The  MidEast x MidWest concert with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra which sold out a few days after the 2016 election bringing the Toledo community closer together, the East Meets West Hip Hop Fusion Project which is effectively integrating Arab music into Western culture, and most recently, a commission of newly composed music performed live to the silent films of Mohamed Bayoumi in collaboration with the Arab American National Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the National Performance Network; exposing the music and culture to an entirely different audience.  
The NAO continues its mission to preserve and integrate Arab culture by creating memorable musical experiences through education and performance with an emphasis on the musical traditions of the Arab world.

National Arab Orchestra Takht Ensemble - Tahmila Hijaz, Michael Ibrahim:


An ASACA Event: National Arab Orchestra Takht Ensemble Directed by:

Michael Ibrahim December 7, 2013

Tahmila Hijaz (Instrumental) - Michael Ibrahim
Violin: Emad Ibrahim
Qanun: Jamal Sinno
Oud: Victor Ghannam
Nay: Michael Ibrahim
Double Bass: Maggie Hasspacher
Riqq: Gursharan "Yash" Singh Sandhu
Tabla: Roger Kashou




National Arab Orchestra & Toledo Symphony Orchestra MidEast x MidWest Concert Preview:


November 12, 2016
Valentine Theater - Toledo, OH
Mideast x Midwest: a Dialogue of Music, Food and Fun at America’s Crossroads.
National Arab Orchestra - Directed by Michael Ibrahim
Toledo Symphony Orchestra - Directed by Sara Jobin
Toledo Public Schools: Start High School & Woodward High School
Video Courtesy of Steve Hanson, Hanson Inc - Maumee, OH
Video footage courtesy of WGTE

Special thank you to Rita Mansour, Kathy Caroll, Hussein and Rhonda Shousher, Labib and Karyn Hajjar, Dick and Fran Anderson, Promedica, Ann Hartmann, University of Toledo and all sponsors, Abdul Hammuda, Mohamed Kasir, donors, friends, and volunteers that helped make this concert happen!




National Arab Orchestra Archives - Longa Farahfaza - Riyad Al Sunbati:


A clip from the NAO's first concert which took place on April 4, 2009 at University of Michigan Blanche Anderson Moore Organ Recital Hall in Ann Arbor, MI.

Ensemble Members:
Michael Ibrahim - Nay/Director
Violin - Erica Shirts
Viola - Darci Sprengel
Qanun/Oud - Victor Ghannam
Riqq/Tabla - Dr. Gursharan Singh Sandhu
Tar - Daniel Khouri
Double Bass - Margaret Hasspacher
Vocals - Usama Baalbaki (not in video)