East of the River presents HAMSA featuring music from the geographic regions of Andalusia, North Africa, the Ottoman Empire, and the Sephardic Diaspora. Based on music using the melodic modal system referred to as the Makam, this program draws its listeners to the distinct beauty of and similarities between liturgical, folk, and Ottoman courtly music. The Hamsa is a palm-shaped amulet popular throughout the Middle East and North Africa depicting the open right hand, an image recognized and used as a sign of protection throughout history.
East of the River was founded by internationally renowned recorder players Nina Stern and Daphna Mor. The project explores haunting and virtuosic melodies from the traditional repertoires of the Balkans, Armenia and the Middle East, as well as gems of the Medieval European classical repertory. They have performed at many festivals including Chautauqua Institute, the San Francisco and Madison Early Music Festivals, as well as Milwaukee 'Early Music Now' festival and The Academy of Early Music in Ann Arbor. The members of the ensemble have separately recorded and performed with artists such as Yo Yo Ma, Philip Glass, Jordi Savall, Sting, Natalie Merchant, Aerosmith, and many others.
“Culturally rich…Musically addictive.” ~ Milwaukee Journal Sentinel