Wisaal, an Arabic-influenced world music ensemble based in Lansing, Michigan, was formed in February 2010. Wisaal is an Arabic word meaning links, connections, or unities. This reflects our attempt to present high-quality concert and educational presentations of music that fuse elements of the Arabic musical heritage with Klezmer, classical Indian, and American influences while respecting the spirit of these musics. Wisaal’s repertoire consists of classical Arabic instrumental pieces, contemporary fusion pieces, and original compositions.
Classical Arabic instrumental pieces from the twentieth century become frameworks within which traditional Arabic forms and rhythmic patterns blend with Western harmonic backgrounds and rhythmically charged pop and world-music grooves. Arabic instruments - oud, percussion, and bass - are joined by Klezmer-influenced clarinet and American folk mandolin. Contemporary fusion pieces and original compositions combine these various influences and allow for extended improvisations that showcase the different improvisatory traditions represented in Wisaal.
Wisaal has performed at various venues around Michigan and the midwest, including appearances at Lotus Festival (Bloomington, IN), Global Rhythms (Oxford, OH) and the East Lansing Art Festival (East Lansing, MI). Wisaal has also performed educational concerts and workshops at Michigan State University, Spring Arbor University, Alma College, and Central Michigan University. The group has recently diversified its performance offerings by collaborating with a Lansing based dancer, Leilah, and her group, Karma. Wisaal recently released their first full-length album, “The Warp and the Weft.” In December 2011, Wisaal received the Excellence in Diversity Awards for “Excellence in Advancing Global Competency,” from Michigan State University.
"Wisaal is a musical journey to a world yet to be discovered. The combination of instruments from near and far mesmerize you with every piece [...] an unforgettable experience leaving you always hungry for more."
- Devon Anthony, Board of Directors at Art Reach
"[Wisaal's] music transformed that small gallery space into a place of wide open air. As a listener, I felt like a kite that was directed by the whims and winds of their tunes, by their strings. Their compositions were both engaging and complex, a lively, deeply spiritual tapestry of interwoven influences and melodies, times and cultures—that wrapped us up, inspired us, made us feel peace."
- Robert Fanning, Assistant Professor of English, Central Michigan University