BatesDowntown continues with Okbari Middle Eastern Ensemble

Amos Libby and Eric LaPerna of Okbari Middle Eastern Ensemble.

Amos Libby and Eric LaPerna of Okbari Middle Eastern Ensemble.

The Okbari Middle Eastern Ensemble brings music from the rich tapestry of Turkish, Arabic and Armenian culture to the BatesDowntown concert series in a performance at 5 p.m. Friday, March 2, at 22 Park St. (the former Maple Room).

The performance is open to the public at no cost. The series will continue with concerts on the first Fridays of April and May. For more information, please contact 207-786-6135 or

The Okbari Middle Eastern Ensemble is Amos Libby (oudist, singer), Eric LaPerna (percussionist), Michael Gallant (violinist) and Carl Dimow (flutist).

Okbari’s repertoire encompasses Ottoman Turkish classical compositions, rural Turkish folk and devotional songs, Arabic classical and folk music, and dance music from the Armenian and Turkish immigrant diasporas.

The ensemble appears as a duo, trio and a quartet, and 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, Alwan for the Arts in New York City and the 2009 Chicago Arabesque Festival.

Okbari also performs with world-renowned Armenian-American clarinet virtuoso Mal Barsamian, and has performed in Istanbul with the Kemani Serkan and Rumeli Meyhane Fasil ensembles.
Three members of the band studied or regularly performed with the late, revered oud master and composer Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian, a member of the Bates class of 1973.

Libby, a student of Bardezbanian, travels to Turkey to study Ottoman classical and Turkish contemporary art music. He is co-director of the Bowdoin College Middle Eastern Ensemble and an adjunct instructor of oud technique at Bowdoin, and teaches oud at Bates.

LaPerna was the lead percussionist of Bardezbanian’s Middle Eastern Ensemble and is a founding member of Okbari and the Alhan Arabic Ensemble. He is director of the Bowdoin College Middle Eastern Music Ensemble and adjunct instructor of hand percussion at Bowdoin, and is also a member of the Bates applied music faculty.

Gallant has studied Arabic classical violin with renowned Palestinian violin and oud master Simon Shaheen and was the violinist for Bardezbanian’s Middle Eastern Ensemble.

Dimow is an eclectic musician whose performances on flutes and guitar include classical, jazz, klezmer, blues and traditional folk music. He has appeared in performances and school residencies in the U.S., Europe and Central America. He also performs with the Casco Bay Tummlers klezmer band, the Kolosko-Dimow Duo and the World Flute Trio. He is a member of the applied music faculty at Colby College and teaches in the Portland area.