The Syrian musicians of DIO will help Kalamazoo and the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music welcome new members of the community who are refugees from war torn Syria.
Three towering talents. Three strands of musical influences. Three charismatic individuals. One trio. An acronym of its three members (Dima, Issam, Omar), who have been colleagues during their studies at the Higher Institute of Music in Damascus (since 1995), as well as having jointly performed in a great many works together.
Dima Orsho, a graduate of the Boston Conservatory holds a Masters degree in Opera Performance, and is an established and seasoned performer, recorded artist, and collaborator with renowned international musicians such as Yo-Yo Ma. Having learned clarinet as a second instrument; she brings an instrument player’s sensibility to her vocalizations, adding to the magic of the trio’s pieces and becoming an innovator in the world of Middle Eastern music, in her own right.
Oud player Issam Rafea, also a veteran performer and recorded artist, has served as the conductor of the Arab Orchestra at the Higher Institute of Music in Damascus. He is a true virtuoso and innovator of the Oud; incessantly working to coax new sounds, harmonic combinations, and emotions out of this traditional instrument. He has collaborated with many artists of world renown, such as having played with—and made musical arrangements—for world famous British pop group "Gorillaz."
Percussionist Omar al-Musfi holds a Master's degree in Performing Arts from NIU in DeKalb, and is currently director of NIU Middle Eastern ensemble in his alma mater. He is well known for his amiable presence, and collaborative work ethic; as well as his distinctive and intuitive rhythmic creations—combining a classically trained sensibility with a fluid and colorful playing style. His collaborations include working with top musical stars Shakira and Sting.
DIO offers a varied repertoire, rooted in the rich and diverse musical heritage of the Arab Middle East—both ancient, and contemporary. The result is a music steeped in cultural heritage, modern and sleek in presentation, yet also nuanced, soulful, and authentic.
See them at 7 p.m. Nov. 1 at Western Michigan University's beautifully restored Heritage Hall (formerly East Hall)