Arab Music Ensemble

Open to all students in the Penn community as well as to members of the greater Philadelphia community, this ensemble explores a wide range of Arab music and provides students with the opportunity to learn through coachings provided by several professional performers of Arab music. The Arab Music Ensemble participates in performances hosted and organized by PennMusic and members will also have the opportunity to perform at functions and events around Penn’s campus.


Rehearsal Schedule

Arab Music Ensemble: Thursdays from 5:15 PM to 8:30 PM; Lerner Center 101, 102

Upcoming Events

Schedule TBA. Please check back later.

Ensemble Director

Philadelphia based Arab music specialist Hanna Khoury is a violin virtuoso trained in the western and the Arab music idioms. During his tenure with Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, Khoury led the longest standing Arab music concert series in the U.S. featuring some of the most renowned singers/performers from the Arab world in partnership with local choirs, and a takht ensemble. Additionally, Khoury toured with Algerian Rai singer Cheb Khaled, Lebanese superstar Fairuz, and played lead violin with Iraqi singer Kazem Al-Saher, Grammy winner Youssou N'Dour and American Actor, Singer and activist Mandy Patinkin. In addition, Khoury can be heard on several pop recordings including Grammy-nominated song "Beautiful Liar" (featuring Beyonce and Shakira), and "Love and Compassion" (featuring Paula Cole and Kazem Al-Saher). Khoury graduated Magna Cum Laude with departmental honors from UCLA with a Bachelor's in Economics and Music Performance, and obtained his Master's degree in Music from Temple University.  He received his PhD in Ethnomusicology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018.


Portrait of Hanna Khoury
Percussion Director

Hafez Kotain is the owner and chief executive officer at Hafez Percussion Inc. Kotain is also the percussion director at Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture and the Arab Percussion Ensemble at the University of Pennsylvania. He is an accomplished master percussionist with fluency in both Arab and Latin rhythms. He is a recipient of the prestigious 2013 Pew Fellowship in the Arts, which is awarded each year to 12 Philadelphia artists who are of exemplary talent. Kotain began studying the doumbek at the age of seven, first performed on stage at age nine, and went on to study with master percussionist Hady Jazan, winning the national percussion competitions in Syria for several years. Kotain first began his career as an educator, teaching a variety of percussion styles to dedicated students, musicians and music teachers. In 2010 and 2011, Kotain taught at the Arab Music Retreat led by the internationally acclaimed Arab music performer, Simon Shaheen. He has performed with Lebanese composer/musician Marcel Khalife and Al Mayadine Ensemble in their latest US and Canada tour for “Fall of the Moon: An Homage to the Poet Mahmoud Darwish.” Kotain has also toured with singer George Wassouf in Canada and the US, and has performed with acclaimed artist Sting, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Kareem Roustom and with actor and tenor Mandy Patinkin. Throughout the year Kotain teaches with Al-Bustan in various school and community-based programs, including a summer camp for youth, and a weekly course in percussion at the University of Pennsylvania.


Portrait of Hafez Kotain