Yoel Ben-Simhon (composer, tenor, oud, piano, guitar and percussion)
Israeli born of Moroccan parentage, Ben-Simhon has committed himself to researching the relationship between Jewish and Arabic music. He has studied Middle Eastern, classical, and jazz music, as well as opera voice techniques and Arabic singing. Ben-Simhon pursued his academic studies at the Mannes School of Music and received his BA and MA in music composition from Hunter College in 1998, studying with mentors Mr. Paul Moravec (Pulitzer prize winner) and Mr. Simon Shaheen (internationally acclaimed oud and violin virtuoso). He also studies regularly oud with Mr. Bassam Saba (Simon Shaheen, Marcel Khalife, Fairuz) and theory with Dr. Ali Jihad Racy at the Classical Arabic music retreat in Mount Holyok. Ben-Simhon also plays several percussion instruments after studying with Mr. Glen Velez and Souran Baronian. Ben Simhon is the founder and composer of the "Sultana Ensemble," which is comprised of musicians and a dancer from Arab, American and Israeli descent. He has recorded two CDs' with his ensemble and was recorded as a guest musician on other CDs'. His latest CD with the Sultana Ensemble is getting aired on radio stations all over the world. He also co-produced and arranged the music for two CD recordings for the Ladino-fusion band "Sarah Aroeste," in which he plays and sings. He was the featured oud player on a soundtrack for the 2002 New York Fashion Show, and on a Focus Features movie "Vanity Fair". Ben-Simhon composed music for movies such as: "Concert Joe," "Shaheed," and "A Job To Win" and has orchestrated the music for the off-Broadway musical "God of Vengeance". As an expert on Judeo-Arab music, Ben-Simhon was interviewed with the acclaimed Andalusian singer Emil Zrihan by Sarah Fishco for WNYC (NPR). He was also featured on the acclaimed WNYC's "Sound Check" program by John Schafer, as well as on several radio interviews such as WBAI and WFMU. He has appeared also on TV, Chicago's channel 5 and was featured in the Chicago Tribune, and Haaretz newspapers, to name just a few. Ben-Simhon is the musical director of the avant-guard Jewish theater company Storahtelling, and a musician in residence at the Bnei Jeshurun synagogue. Ben-Simhon was an oud soloist, playing with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Lucas Richman He had performed at numerous venues throughout the US and Europe, including Seville-Spain, the United Nations General Assembly Hall, Celebrate Brooklyn Festival, the Jewish Museum, Chicago Cultural Center, The HotHouse Chicago, and in New York's main music scenes; Symphony Space, Metropolitan Museum, The Jewish Museum, Joe's Pub, Knitting Factory, Satalla, and Makor. He had performed with internationally known artists such as Yossi Fine, George Mgrdichian, Howard Levi, Yair Dalal, Dr. Avi Eilam-Amzallag and memebers of the Israeli Andalusian Orchestra, Gerard Ederi, Bassam Saba, Haig Manokian, Souran Baronian, Abdelftah Bennis, Frank London, Matisyahu, Kenny Muhammad, Lior Elmalich, Greg Taubman, and Yosi Piamenta, to name just a few.
The musicians of The Sultana Ensemble are: Rachid Halihal, Jay Rodriguez, Emmanuel Mann, Yousif Sheronick, Hicham Chami, Tomer Tzur and few geust artist. Ben-Simhon continues to study, create, perform and promote the music of the Middle East. In doing so he also hopes to foster the artistic dialogue between western and eastern cultures, communities, and individuals specifically between Jews and Arabs.
Visit Yoel's web site: www.sultanamusic.com
Contact Yoel: firstname.lastname@example.org