Founded in 2009, the NAO Orchestra was originally a takht, a small chamber music group comprised of ‘oud (Arab lute), qanun (Arab zither), violin, nay (Arab reed flute), and riqq (Arab tambourine). Since then, the ensemble has grown to become an orchestra under the leadership of its Founder and music director, Michael Ibrahim. The NAO Orchestra is comprised of musicians from both Arab and non-Arab backgrounds.
The National Arab Orchestra Takht Ensemble (NAOTE) was founded in 2010 as the NAO’s premiere traditional ensemble performing some of Arab music’s finest classical repertoire. This ensemble is comprised of instruments such as: ‘oud´ (Arab lute), qanun (Arab zither), nay (Arab reed flute), violin, riqq (Arab tambourine), table (Arab goblet drum), and bass. The NAOTE performs classical and contemporary Arab music otherwise known as tarab music. Tarab music is characterized by its melodic modes known as maqamat (sing. maqam) and complex rhythmic modes (iqa’at). It is also distinguished by the art of improvisation, or taqasim, during which a musician outlines a melodic mode and/or modulates to other related modes. The audience plays an extremely important role in tarab music, since listeners (sami’ah) will often respond with applause during and after a musician’s improvised solos.
The National Arab Orchestra Community Choir (NAOCC) is and ensemble made up of local members from the southeastern Michigan community. Founded in 2011 by Michael Ibrahim and Michael Ansara, the NAOCC is an ensemble that is dedicated to the education and performance of the classical and contemporary traditions of Arab music; and is considered the first of the NAO’s community outreach programs. Membership in the NAOCC is open to anyone in the community who wishes to learn more about Arab music and singing.