"Been to the East, Been to the West"
Arabesque plays music from East and West, including Celtic, Middle Eastern and original tunes. Miranda Arana plays flute and whistle, and multi-instrumentalist Steve Vanlandingham performs on guitar, bouzouki, 'ud, and mandolin. Each tune can be a vehicle to take the musicians and the listeners to new places, creating unique and heartfelt expressions through the blending of musical forms, ornaments, and styles. Steve and Miranda's backgrounds make them ideally suited for this musical journey: Miranda teaches World Music at the University of Oklahoma and has explored numerous world genres, and Steve works as an archeologist and a musician and is a student of history and mythology. They met in 2003 when Miranda joined Steve's Irish band, "Banish Misfortune," her first time to try her hand at Irish music. While Miranda rapidly absorbed the band's Celtic style and tunes, Steve was fascinated by the Arabic pieces and Eastern influences that Miranda brought with her from her work with a local classical Arabic music ensemble. It all came together when the two had a chance to sit down together to try out some tunes one evening after a Banish Misfortune gig way out in Beaver, Oklahoma. They realized that they had that rare combination of chemistry and ability, of interests and inclinations... They are still trying to figure it out, but having lots of fun along the way.
Arabesque invites you on a magic carpet ride to faraway places with the intent to make you feel at home in each one. It starts with the realization that the world's people, cultures and music are more alike than different, and that we all have much to share. Arabesque strives to use music as a bridge to connect the east and west, the past and future, the timely and the timeless.
Steve Vanlandingham grew up in Oklahoma and began playing the guitar in college, learning the blues and ragtime styles of Mississippi John Hurt, Elizabeth Cotton and other early folk musicians. He took up the 5-string banjo, inspired by the music of the Appalachian Mountains, and learned the old-time styles of Uncle Dave Macon, Grandpa Jones and others. One thing led to another and before long Steve had traced the roots of American traditional music to Ireland and deeply immersed himself in Celtic music on a variety of string instruments. Along the way he studied archeology and received a BA from the University of Oklahoma in 1978. When not on an archeological survey, Steve plays guitar, bouzouki, mandolin, banjo,'ud and various percussion instruments. He is an award-winning 5-string banjo player in the old-time "clawhammer" style.
Steve founded one of Oklahoma's original Celtic bands, "Banish Misfortune," in 1980. They toured and performed all over the state of Oklahoma in conjunction with the State Arts Council for over 25 years. Most recently, he has participated in the O'Flaherty Irish Music Retreat as a co-instructor in the "Irish music basics" class.
Miranda Arana grew up in western New York, and began playing the flute in her early teens. After receiving classical training at Eastman School of Music, she went on to discover her passion for improvisation and world music. She spent her twenties traveling, working and living in Southeast Asia, always with her trusty flute in tow. After studying traditional Vietnamese flute playing with master artists while living and working with Vietnamese refugees in the Philippines, and during a two-year stay in Hanoi in the early 1990s, she became a member of the Phong Nguyen Ensemble, one of the premier traditional Vietnamese ensembles in the United States. She received a master's degree in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University in 1996, and she has happily "settled down" in Norman, Oklahoma, where she currently teaches world music at the University of Oklahoma. Since coming to Oklahoma, she has become an active member in three outstanding traditional music ensembles: Alma Latina, a Norman-based folkloric Latin American ensemble; Nur, Oklahoma's premier Middle Eastern ensemble, and Banish Misfortune, one of Oklahoma's longest-lived Celtic music ensembles. With Arabesque, she has an opportunity to integrate her interests in various music traditions.