Bushra El-Turk and Ensemble Zār

Originating in Eastern Africa and part of the Middle East, Zār or Zaar (Arabic/Persian: زار) refers to a is a cathartic ritual meant to cleanse the individual from a negative spirit that has occupied his, or usually her, soul. 


With this definition in mind, British-Lebanese composer Bushra El-Turk founded Ensemble Zar in 2011. Comprised of up to 14 of the UK’s finest musicians, Zar is a fresh and fearless cross-genre ensemble whose mission is to express the Middle Eastern artistic temperament in its rawest form, and experiment with new sounds in the process. Under Bushra’s direction, Zar boasts extraordinary versatility, as its musicians are well-versed in both Eastern and Western idioms, and equally at home performing complex written contemporary music as well as arrangements of the world’s traditional musics. Zar’s musicians are also masters of improvisation, relishing in the spontaneous nature of Oriental music. 


Ensemble Zar has performed for the Metta Theatre production of ‘Arab Nights’ (dir. Poppy Burton-Morgan, Soho Theatre production). It has also most notably played the live score to world’s first feature-length silent film animation, The Adventures of Prince Achmed at the Southbank (part of Women of the World Festival) and Barbican as a Birds Eye View Film Festival commission, for which it received critical acclaim. Other notable performances include Kensington Palace as part of 'Arabian Interlude at the Palace' presented by the Peace and Prosperity Trust and Birmingham Symphony Hall. The Arabic section of the ensemble recorded the Oscar-winning film composer, Gabriel Yared's film score for the new feature animation film, Salma Hayek's The Prophet, at Abbey Road Studios in March 2014. Recent performances include the BBC Arabic Film Festival 2015, Kensington Palace and the Nour Arts Festival in London.

About the musicians
Each musician is an award-wining master of his/her own instrument with an aim to perform in multicultural contexts. Many of whom perform Western classical repertoire as well as traditional Eastern music (folk or classical art music), especially arranged or in its monodic form. All have toured the world performing in prestigious venues such as New York's Carnegie Hall, Southbank, Wigmore Hall, and the renowned Lebanese singer, Fairouz.