National Arab Orchestra to dazzle at season opener

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
The National Arab Orchestra performance in 2016.

Dearborn — The National Arab Orchestra is tuning up for their 8th annual season opener on Sunday. 

Michael Ibrahim,  who founded the Detroit-based orchestra in 2009, said the  orchestra has traveled around the country during their concert series to Miami, Texas, Toledo, Washington D.C., Atlanta and Jacksonville, Fla.

Their 8th annual showcase "A Night of Tarab" includes vocalists Usama Baalbaki, Ghada Derbas and Abdallah Moussa and is directed by Ibrahim. Tarab is an Arabic word describing music's emotional effect and is associated with traditional artistic and musical forms. 

The event is scheduled for  7 p.m. at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Ave., in Dearborn on Sunday. Tickets can be purchased online at

The showcase includes 40 people in the full orchestra and community choir composed of adults and children from Fordson High School chorus. The orchestra members are selected by audition.

"This year, people can expect to see the orchestra at its best performance yet. We also have a surprise hip-hop fusion piece I don't think people will expect," said Ibrahim, 33, of Sterling Heights

He said he started the orchestra because he found it difficult to learn music while growing up. 

"While playing, I was able to connect with my culture and I eventually found my cultural identity," said Ibrahim. "I didn't get it through school or Mosque, but music." 

Ibrahim, who was born in Michigan and whose family is from Syria, graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a music performance degree and received his Masters in Conducting from Wayne State University. 

He said he chose to continue playing cultural Arabic music because it is "absolutely, beautiful and needs to be preserved."

Eight years later, he said the orchestra is really starting to take off. 

"In terms of educational programming and the concert series, there's a lot we have on the table this year," Ibrahim said. "I hope people come out and enjoy the event."

The orchestra presents "A Night of Tarab" for its 8th annual showcase.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_