Ensemble Zar

About Ensemble Zar

Comprised of up to 14 of the UK’s finest musicians, Ensemble Zar is a fresh and fearless cross-genre ensemble whose mission is to express the Middle Eastern artistic temperament in its rawest form, and experiment with new sounds in the process. It’s musicians are well-versed in both Eastern and Western idioms, culminating in ancient Western and Asian instruments, equally at home performing complex written contemporary music as well as masters of improvisation, relishing in the spontaneous nature of Oriental music. 

Ensemble Zar has performed for the Metta Theatre production of ‘Arab Nights’ (dir. Poppy Burton-Morgan, Soho Theatre production). It has also, most notably, played the live score to the world’s first feature- length silent film animation, The Adventures of Prince Achmed at the Southbank (part of Women of the World Festival - WOW) and Barbican as a Birds Eye View Film Festival commission, for which it received critical acclaim. 2014 saw a performance at Birmingham Symphony Hall and a recording of feature animation film, The Prophet, produced by Salma Hayek Pinault, with music by Gabriel Yared. 

About the musicians 
Each musician is an award-wining master and rebel of his/her own tradition with a natural feel for performing in transcultural contexts. Many of whom perform Western classical repertoire as well as traditional Eastern music (folk or classical art music), especially arranged or in its monodic form. All have toured the world performing in prestigious venues such as New York's Carnegie Hall, Southbank, Wigmore Hall, and the renowned Lebanese singer, Fairouz.

Past performances

 13th July 2017 - Royal Opera and Shubbak Festival presents excerpts from Woman at Point Zero opera.

1st November 2015 - Silk Moth opera by Bushra El-Turk  as part of Nour Arts Festival performing at 20th Century Theatre.   

30th October 2015 - BBC Broadcasting House as part of BBC Arabic Film Festival. Documentary. 

2nd September 2014 - for 'Arabian Interlude in Kensington Palace' presented by the Peace and Prosperity Trust. 

4th June  2014 - Birmingham Symphony Hall schools performance- Symphony of Stories project.  

13th March 2014 - Gabriel Yared film score to Gibran's The Prophet at Abbey Road Studios. 

January to 28th February 2014 - Birmingham Symphony Hall Education Project in Ladywood Primary School 

5th April 2013 - Barbican Cinema 1 - Live Score to silent film as part of Birds Eye View Film Festival 

7th March 2013 - Purcell Room, Southbank -  Live Score to silent film as part of Birds Eye View Film Festival 

9th November 2012- incidental music recording for Metta Theatre's Soho Theatre production of Arab Nights 



Concert hall programs  

Ensemble Zar programs works for the concert hall by the composer Bushra El-Turk and other contemporary composers, bringing new music to diverse audiences.

Silk Moth Opera 

 Every year an estimated 5000 women worldwide are murdered by their own families in so-called honour killings, 12 of them in the UK. 'Silkmoth' places onstage a mother. We are her guests at home. This one-woman performance raises powerful questions are immediately raised: what is her role in this horrific 'tradition' ? Is she a victim, submissive, or coldly complicit? This project was supported by Arts Council England and Nour Arts Festival.

Community Work 

Ensemble Zar produces education workshops/projects for all pockets of the community, in the previous incarnation of Chelsea Music Academy. Past projects include workshops at Leighton House Museum, Kensington Palace Youth Programme, YoungStars Creative Arts Academy, Arab British Centre and CAABU (Council for Arab-British Understanding)

Enquiries about Ensemble Zar

To book Ensemble Zar as part of a festival or concert, do feel free to contact us