Photo credits: Carrie Bueneman
The Chicago Classical Oriental Ensemble consists of professional musicians from the U.S., Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Israel. The CCOE performs traditional instrumental and vocal music from the Arabic, North African, Egyptian, Levantine, Turkish, and Armenian repertoire. The CCOE had its debut performance in 2003 at the Oriental Institute in Chicago and has toured the U.S. and Canada, including concerts at the United Nations, Harvard University, Symphony Space, Chicago Cultural Center, Town Hall Seattle, and Place des Arts in Montreal. The ensemble's latest CD release, The Songs of Sheikh Sayyed Darweesh: Soul of a People, was named one of the top-ten world music recordings in 2006 by the Boston Globe.
The CCOE is led by Hicham Chami, a Moroccan-born qanun performer based in Chicago. He has studied qanun for more than twenty years, graduating from the National Conservatory of Music and Dance in Rabat, Morocco. He received an MBA from DePaul University’s Kellstadt School of Business in 2004. Chami's critically-acclaimed CD, Promises: Oriental Classical Music, was released by Multicultural Media. Chami is founder of the Arabesque Foundation for Arab Culture, dedicated to preserving the heritage of classical Arabic, Turkish, and Armenian music. He directs the Heartland Seminar and Youth Seminar on Arabic Music in Wisconsin.