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ENSEMBLE BAKLAVA

music from the Mediterranean


Sounds from across the ages, time and space. Half forgotten memories of lost worlds invade the mind. The pictures change, images are evoked…of a medieval pilgrimage, the lament of a troubadour for his love in a walled garden. Shimmering scenes emerge from under the hot sun. The percussion entrances the swaying image of a veiled dancer. Greek taverna, Turkish fasil, taximi…..musical images fuse and separate…“

With a unique combination of instruments, Ensemble Baklava blends the sounds of the oud, bouzouki, concertina, bagpipes, Middle Eastern percussion, mandolin, baglama, spiked fiddle, guitar, tin whistle and voices to bring evocative, stirring and lively music and song from the Mediterranean region, both contemporary and ancient.

Russell Harris, Nick Millington, Howard Frey and Julia Thomas perform Turkish, rembetiko, Sephardic, medieval and traditional music melded with improvisation and original material for a memorable performance of timeless music.


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RUSSELL HARRIS

OUD, SAZ, REBAB, MIDDLE EASTERN PERCUSSION
Russell has been involved in the study and performance of Middle Eastern music since the mid-1980’s. Firstly he studied Anatolian folk music under the renowned oud and saz musician Ustat Ahmet Ozdemir. Following that, Russell broadened the scope of his study to include Arabic instrumental styles, specialising in oud and percussion. Russell has performed extensively throughout the UK and Europe with groups Mazaj, Bazigah, Taaliqa and Panacea and with a range of international artists including Sheikh Taha, Adel Salameh and Naziha Azzouz, and Bland Mahdi and Guy Shalom. Find Russell on Facebook

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JULIA THOMAS

CONCERTINA, BAGPIPES, TIN WHISTLE, VOICE
Julia had a formal music education as a child but the impetus to use it only came when she moved to South Devon in 1981, completed a course in music in special education, became involved in the thriving local traditional music scene and learnt English concertina and later bagpipes. She became interested in music further back in time, researching, arranging and writing new music to old texts. With Howard in 1995 she formed Mock Hobby Horse, a group who perform medieval and tudor music and with Nick and Howard was a member of Compagnie Giulia who performed medieval and mediterranean music. Julia has published two books of her own compositions of new tunes in a traditional style.

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HOWARD FREY

MIDDLE EASTERN PERCUSSION, MANDOLIN, GUITAR
Since playing the part of Beelzebub in Sufi Master, Pir Vilat Khan’s 1974 play Kozmic Mass, Howard has never looked back. A long held interest in percussion took off when he became one of the founder members of Sambaloco under the tutelage of Chris Thomas. Later he became interested in Middle Eastern percussion and played with Simon Cassell for many years. A self taught guitarist, playing folk music, swing and jazz, he also plays and makes mandolins. For more than twenty years he has worked with his partner Julia, playing Tudor, Renaissance and medieval music for banquets, workshops, dancers and theatre companies.

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NICK MILLINGTON

BOUZOUKI, BAGLAMA, GUITAR, VOICE
Nick’s love of Greek music began in 1989 whilst working in Thessaly, Greece. During the dark nights of winter, he was initiated into the mysteries of rebetiko and Greek music in general by local musicians, joining them on guitar. Before Nick left, he bought a bouzouki and an obsession was born! Since then, Nick has played many styles of Greek music with the band Ta Filia, and studied bouzouki in Greece, playing with Kostas Monias and other musicians in Hydra, Piraeus, Athens and Thessaloniki. With Julia and Howard he was a member of Compagnie Giulia, the direct forbear of Ensemble Baklava, where he performed for medieval banquets, concerts and Shakespeare productions. He is also a folk musician (playing in the ceilidh band Hogwash), a singer, songwriter and an instrumentalist for touring puppet theatre PuppetCraft

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