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Oman International Tour

In January 2014, the College of William & Mary's Middle Eastern Music Ensemble (MEME) conducted a study and performance tour to Oman sponsored by the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center, the College of William & Mary, and partners in the Sultanate of Oman. Prior to traveling to Oman, the MEME prepared performances of traditional Arab music, including compositions by contemporary Arab composers living in the United States. The goal of the tour was to allow the students of the MEME to share their music with various communities in Oman and to interact with Omani musicians, students, and teachers in order to learn more about Arab music and, more specifically, about music from Oman and the Gulf region. This tour served as an introduction to the Gulf region for many of the ensemble's students - students who are deeply committed to International Studies and learning more about the Middle East and Asian regions - and will certainly lead to further opportunities for exchange. 

Meet the Travelers
  • Maryam Kanna (vocals, percussion) - Economics/Government double-major
  • Lailah Irani (vocals, percussion) - Psychology major
  • Paul Zorn (percussion) - Music/Business double-major
  • Mahdi Blaine (violin) - International Relations/Middle Eastern Studies double-major
  • Arianna Roumeliotis (violin) - Religious Studies major, Economics minor
  • Zach Aravich ('ud) - Music/Philosophy double-major
  • Ro-Derrick Branch (bass) - International Relations major, Music minor
  • Dr. Jonathan Glasser (violin) - Faculty adviser/trip leader, Department of Anthropology/Program in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  • Dr. Anne Rasmussen (qanun) - Faculty adviser/trip leader, Department of Music/Program in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
  • January 1-3
    • Travel to Oman from Washington DC Dulles Airport
  • January 3
    • Morning: Arrive in Doha, Qatar
  • January 4
    • Morning: Arrive at Beach Hotel in Muscat, Oman for morning call to prayer. Breakfast at hotel and orientation to the neighborhood.
    • Afternoon: Rehearsal at the hotel.
    • Evening: Jama'iyat Howat al-'Ud (JHU/Oud Society) 
      • Meet the musicians - Salim Makrashi; Raja, Administrative Director; Fathi Mohsin al-Balushi, Director.
      • Discuss program for Thursday and begin rehearsal process.
  • January 5
    • Morning: Breakfast at the hotel. Rehearsal at the hotel.
    • Afternoon: Visit to the US Embassy in Sultana Hall for introductions and briefing on the work of the Embassy. Performance for Embassy community and families.
    • Evening: Performance and reception at US Ambassador's Residence.
      • In Attendance: Her Excellency Ambassador Greta Holtz; personnel from the 'Ud Hobbyist Association (Jama'iyat Howat al-'Ud); Sultan of Qaboos University; Omani Diwan; ambassadors from Iraq and Yemen; Dr. Oman Zawawi, special advisor to His Majesty
  • January 6
    • Morning: Breakfast at hotel. Free time.
    • Afternoon: Arrive at Sultan Qaboos University. Sound check and rehearsal. Coffee with host Dr. Majid Al-Harthy, Ethnomusicologist and Head of Department of Music and Musicology and Music Department administrator, Juvelle.
    • Evening: Performance exchange at Al-Fahm Hall, Sultan Qaboos University with Department of Music faculty and students. Dinner hosted by Dr. Majid Al-Harthy.
  • January 7
    • Morning: Breakfast at hotel. Visit to Grand Mosque.
    • Afternoon: Visit to Bait Zubair Museum and orientation to Old Muscat. Quick tour of the Suq (market).
    • Evening: Rehearsal at JHU (Oud Society). Dinner at Al-Diyar Restaurant near hotel.
  • January 8
    • Morning: Breakfast at hotel. Visit to the Royal Opera House Muscat hosted by Wael Kakish.
    • Afternoon/Evening: Dress rehearsal at the Jama'iyat Howat al-'Ud. Dinner (from Burger King!) at Jama'iyat.
  • January 9
    • Morning: Breakfast at hotel. Free time.
    • Afternoon: Visit to Center for International Learning to meet with Dr. Larry Brown and Judi Garfinkel, Directors of the Center for Arabic language learning. Introduction to the Center and discussion of the history and culture of Oman (around their kitchen table).
    • Evening: Concert at the Jama'iyat Howat al-'Ud with musicians from the Jama'iyah. Reception following concert.
  • January 10
    • Morning/Afternoon: Free day. 
      •  Hike in the Mutrah Mountains led by W&M Professor Chuck Bailey and his assistant Alex Johnson.
      • Visit to the Old Suq (market).
    • Evening: Dinner at the Shangri La Bar Al-Jissa resort hosted by Dr. Majid Al-Harthy of SQU.
  • January 11
    • Morning: Travel to the interior of Oman.
    • Afternoon: Visit to the Mena and the Sultan Qaboos College for Arabic Language. Lunch at the Fort Cafe. Visit to the Fort at Nizwa. Visit to the Suq (market) at Nizwa.
    • Evening: Barbeque at a Seeb farm with all of the musicians from the Jama'iyat Howat al-'Ud.
  • January 12
    • Morning: Departure for US. 
    • Evening: Arrive in Washington DC.