About Us

About Us

The National Arab Orchestra (NAO) is a 501 c3 nonprofit organization that that aims to preserve and integrate Arab culture through music education, outreach, and performance. Founded in 2009 and established in 2010, the National Arab Orchestra is home to the NAO Orchestra, the National Arab Orchestra Takht Ensemble (NAOTE), and the National Arab Orchestra Community Choir (NAOCC). The NAO is dedicated to preserving and performing the classical and contemporary traditions of Arab music, and provides opportunities that will bridge social and cultural barriers through music.


Our Board

Usama Baalbaki (Chairman), Sherri Richards (Executive Director),
Tina Farhat (Secretary), Michael Ansara (Treasurer), Karen Barbee Adkisson
Michael Ibrahim (Founder/Music Director), Dr. Vasken Artinian,
Dr. Lester Monts.


Meet the Staff

Meet our Executive Director: Sherri Richards is a business consultant, university professor, speaker, and author with a rare combination of finance, marketing, distribution operations, and franchising experience both nationally and internationally. Her true gift is her love of creating and telling the whole story. The fun is taking an idea, developing the business plan with its pieces and parts, thenbringing it to life in a holistic, profitable and sustainable way. Sherri works with both for profit and non profit companies as she loves to bring the business skills of the for profit business to the non profit world, where many non profits are brilliant at the work they do, but need support with building the foundation and running the business of the organization. Her calling is to help people be their best selves through the work they do, and in the case of the students, the work they aspire to do.
Sherri worked for Daimler Trucks of North America for many years, in both management and start up capacities. This world class experience plus her MBA, and teaching students to be entrepreneurs has given her a well rounded skill set, where she has worked with thousands of small companies to help them move to the next level.

Our Founder & Director

Meet our Founder and Music Director: Michael Ibrahim is a dynamic conductor, and one of the newest most innovative artists to emerge onto the Arab music circuit.  His teachers have included some of the leading musicians in his field including, Simon Shaheen, Johnny Sarweh, Nadeem Dlaikan, Douglas Bianchi, Anthony Iannacconne, Dr. David Pierce, Robert Williams, and Victoria King; causing him to realize the value of a solid educational background.  Having earned a bachelor degree in music from Eastern Michigan University, Michael went on to further his studies at Wayne State University; completing a Master of Music degree in conducting.   The impact of Michael’s musical leadership is felt equally by audiences across the globe, and the musicians he collaborates with.


Throughout his early career, Michael has performed in many concert halls and venues the world over; allowing him the unique opportunity to share the stage with some of the most influential figures in Western and Arab music.  Michael’s diverse musical background and unique approach to composition and improvisation has also led him to be featured on a number of recordings and film scores.  As an artist, Michael has used his educational and professional experience to fuse Western and Arab music idioms in his performances.  As an educator, Michael has taught privately and in the classroom; providing instrumental and ensemble instruction, as well as lectures and demonstrations on Arab music both at the university and grade school levels.  His extensive experience as a performer and educator has led Michael the Michigan Arab Orchestra (now the National Arab Orchestra), and later founding the organizational entity where he currently serves as Music Director.


A Metro-Detroit native, Michael was born into a Syrian immigrant family of humble origins.  He began his musical studies on the ‘Ud, and later studying the Bassoon and Nay as his musical training progressed.  Michael has always believed in concepts of self-awareness, honesty, and personal growth, which have proven to be useful tools in his development as an artist both personally and in the professional realm.  Michael hopes that through his educational efforts he will be able to instill a wider appreciation for Arab music, and its heritage.