The Oriental Music Ensemble (OME) is one of the most famous and prestigious contemporary Palestinian music groups. Established in 1997 by the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Palestine (formerly NCM), the group has performed extensively in Palestine and also gave very successful concerts in England, Belgium, Sweden, Greece and lately in Switzerland.
The instrumental ensemble performs the authentic classical music of the Middle-East mostly Arabic music with influences from the larger orient including Turkey, and Kurdistan. Some of the music played by the OME was composed in the late nineteenth century or the beginning of the twentieth century, but much of it is also contemporary composed by famous musicians of the final decades of last century.
The OME plays pieces of their own compositions in the classical oriental form as well as arrangements and interpretations of folkloric music. Improvisation is a major pillar in Oriental music and as such rhythmic and free improvisation plays an important part in the OME’s repertoire. The sound of the OME is very energetic and the choice of their repertoire has always included uncommon rhythms that give their shows special dynamic quality. Their choice of composers gives the listener a wide and diverse array of sounds of oriental music. Their current repertoire includes compositions by Lebanese, Kurdish, Turkish, Iraqi, Egyptian, Tunisian, as well as Palestinian musicians.
The instruments used by the Oriental Music Ensemble are acoustic and mostly hand made, including Oud, Qanoun, Ney, Buzuq, Durbuka, Daff, and Mazhar as well as the Clarinet played in the oriental style.
The core musicians of the OME are: Suhail Khoury (General Director of the ESNCM) on Ney and Clarinet, Ibrahim Atari on Qanoun, Yousef Hbeish on percussion as well as the virtuoso Oud player Ahmad Al Khatib. Although Arrangements of the music performed is a group effort, Ahmad Khatib, currently does most of it.
The OME released its first CD in the year 2000, entitled “EMM EL KHILKHAL”.