Rima Khcheich, Mike Fentross & Maarten Ornstein

Biography Rima Khcheich, Mike Fentross & Maarten Ornstein

Rima Khcheich
a Lebanese singer, was born in 'Khiam', South Lebanon, in 1974.

She started singing Classical Arabic music at the age of nine, and was awarded the bronze medal at the 'Bizert Festival for the Mediterranean Song' in Tunisia, 1985.

Rima's singing career started off with the children's choir at the 'Arabic Cultural Club', and later evolved into a solo performance with the 'Beirut Oriental Troop for Arabic Music' under the supervision and direction of Maestro Salim Sahab.

Rima studied the tradition of classical Arabic singing at The Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music' in Beirut, and her efforts were supported by her father Kamel Khcheich who encouraged her to memorize and master classics from the Arabic music heritage like *Muwashahat, Adwar and other styles. She has performed Zakariah Ahmad, Al-Kassabji, Sayyed Darwish, Kamel Al Khal'i and Muhammad Abdel Wahab, amongst others.

Having participated in various concerts in Lebanon and around the world, Rima has gained international repute and admiration for her gift at performing complex Arabic classical forms such as Dor 'Emta El hawa', and Muwashah 'Anta al Mudallal'.

Currently, Rima teaches Oriental singing at the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music and is invited on a yearly basis to Massachusets, USA where she teaches voice and classical Arabic singing at Mount Holyoke College under the framework of the Arabic Music Retreat program directed by renown musician and composer Simon Shaheen.

Her professional collaborations include performing with Simon Shaheen, singing in renown composer Toufic Farroukh's album 'Tootya' released in 2006, and being an integral part of the Dutch-Lebanese- Iraqi band 'Orient Express'. This band tried to create meeting grounds between the Arab musical heritage and Jazz. The band released one album 'Orient Express' in 2002, of which this live recording documents their musical experimentations.

In 2006, Rima Khsheish released her debut solo album, entitled 'Yalalalli' which features a number of old songs and Muwashahat, that she performs in a personalized, contemporary manner, alongside new compositions.

A showcase of Rima's limpid voice, 'Yalalalli' not only reveals a deeply emotional and original musical expression, it also stands as a note of rebellion against the dictates of the commercial music market.

Muwashahat: plural for Muwashshah, a vocal form in Arabic music.

A strophic song with refrain. The form originated at Cabra, near Cordoba, in the 9th century; it enjoyed a vogue in Muslim Spain in the 11th century, and spread subsequently throughout the Arab world, where it survives in oral tradition.

One of seven post-Classical poetic forms, It is performed on both secular and religious occasions and combines classical metres with new ones arranged in strophes. Each poem is divided into an indefinite number of units (abyat, sing. bayt), each containing a varied number of poetic lines. Musically, a muwashshah is performed by a solo singer alternating with responsorial, antiphonal or collective singing in unison, depending on the performing group. The performance of this difficult art, composed by specialists, demands a mastery of both maqams (modes) and usuls, the complicated rythmic patterns of Arabic music. from the Center for Arabic Culture (CAC)

Maarten Ornstein
is a Dutch musician based in Amsterdam. He plays tenor saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet and also works as a composer and arranger. On occasion he plays tarogato, electric saxophone, MPC and laptop computers. He leads the free funk ensemble DASH! and performs as a soloist. Additionally, he plays with lutist Mike Fentross, singer Rima Khcheich, poet and singer Jeannine Valeriano. and pianist Sunna Gunnlaugs. Maarten Ornstein endorses Légère reeds and is a member of Splendor Amsterdam.

Both in his paying and composing, Maarten Ornstein is always looking for new challenges, people to work with, rules to break and boundaries to cross. Exploration, mastering and mixing of new genres is at the heart of his musical life, which results in a huge diversity in his musical output. But regardless of the genre, his voice on his instrument is always instantly recognisable. He combines explosive virtuosity with a strong lyrical talent and the ability to make every note count.

Mike Fentross
first studied with Toyohiko Satoh at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, then with Nigel North and José Miguel Moreno.

He has built a solid reputation as a “continuist”, playing in renowned orchestras like Les Arts Florissants, and is much in demand in his country as well as abroad. He plays and records regularly with great European ensembles such as Capriccio Stravagante, Les Arts Florissants, the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, the Harp Consort, the New London Consort and Al Ayre Espanol.

In 1991 he founded La Sfera Armoniosa, a group devoted to the performance of 17th-century music. Since 1996 Mike Fentross is guest professor at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague.

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