Faisal Zedan

Arabic Percussion

Born in  Beirut, Lebanon and raised in Oum Dbaib, Syria, Faisal Zedan grew up impassioned with the Derbakki drum. At the age of 15, he embarked on a journey of learning through exposure to a wide repertoire of Arabic classical and contemporary music. A great love for the drumming and years of practice resulted in a mastery of Arabic percussion instruments including Derbekki, Dahullah, Riq and Def (Arabic/Turkish frame drum).

Arriving in California in 1992, Faisal met UCLA's noted ethnomusicology professor Dr‭. ‬Ali Jihad Racy and, at his invitation,  joined the acclaimed UCLA Near East Music Ensemble. This was the beginning of a national and international musical career dedicated to the transformative power of rhythm. Faisal is currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and works regularly as a performer, collaborator and teacher.

Faisal’s playing embodies the elements essential to Arabic drumming‭ combined with a deep understanding of complex Arabic musical structures‭. ‬From the classical Muwashahat and Adwar style, to folkloric traditions‭, to belly dance, Faisal is studied and nuanced in his solo, ensemble, and accompaniment playing. As a master percussionist, Faisal studies and performs various Arabic styles of music and drumming, from Moroccan to Iraqi, including music of the Arab peninsula and Yemen. He is versed and adept in middle eastern and eastern European musical traditions, moving fluently between Turkish, Armenian, Persian, Afghan, Balkan and Greek rhythms. Faisals unique approach to percussion is strongly rooted in the fundamentals of technique and cadence, with dexterity for incorporating a contemporary feel and creating new, nuanced compositions.

Faisal has worked with a diverse array of musicians including...

Aieto Moreira, The Gorillaz, Joan Baez, Miriam Peretz, Khaleel Shaheed, Yuval Ron, Salim Sesler, Faruk Taqbilek, Hasan Iskul, Yair Dalal, Rumen Shopov

Faisal Zedan website

Jesse Manno

Composer and multi–instrumentalist Jesse Manno was born into a performing arts family in New York City in 1966 and grew up in New York and Colorado. He received his first commission in 1982 and has since created over eighty original scores for dance, theatre, film and multimedia productions, including twenty evening–length pieces. His work has been supported by Meet The Composer, Inc. (a division of the NEA), KRMA Denver PBS TV, The National Guild of Organists, Montgomery Watson Inc., Bates Dance Festival, and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, among others, and has been presented all across the USA, as well as in Holland, Germany, Switzerland, the U.K., Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Saudi Arabia.

Jesse received a B.A. in Asian Studies from The University of Colorado at Boulder, where he has been music director of the C.U. dance department since 1991. In 2002 he became a part–time instructor, teaching one music course per semester. He loves working with many instruments and genres of music, and often incorporates interesting sound environments he has recorded during his travels into his work. He also composes and performs with The Buzz Band (new music on ancient instruments with a characteristic buzzing sound), and more often with Şherefé Balkan/Middle Eastern Ensemble, performing regularly in Colorado, California, and New Mexico.

Recent projects include a stint at BAM in New York with David Dorfman Dance and composer Sam Crawford, a percussive score created on a tower of used car parts for choreographer Gabriel Masson at the Bates Dance Festival, and a contemporary ballet soundtrack based on five of Colorado's native birds with Ballet Nouveau Colorado. He also recently created a new "underwater" section for David Taylor Dance Theatre's touring production “Rainforest.” Several Cds of his work are available: Sea Spirits, Music from Theater of the Vampires, Lazer Vaudeville, Rainforest, and others.

Meg York

Meg York is a seasoned musicologist, performer, and band leader in global folk music styles for 30 years.  She has a Bachelor's Degree in Clarinet performance and has studied music extensively in Turkey and India.

Meg York was cast in Denver Center Performing Arts’ 2019 production of Indecent, the Klezmer play by Paula Vogel.  

She is an Athena Project Artist in Residence, and joins Hal Aqua at Dazzle Jazz and the Mizel Museum/Mercury Cafe Denver KlezFest.  She played in Jesse Manno's Sherefe Ensemble for about a decade from 2000 to 2011. 

Community outreach includes Denver Sister Cities and Denver Spring Institute events, Musical Ambassadors of Peace Benefit Concerts, playing for Colorado Senate sessions, Yo Yo Ma’s 2018 Colorado Tour, and the Boulder Balkan Bash. 

Meg is a Lifetime Member of the Eastern European Folklife Center and a Presenting Member of the International Society for Ethnomusicology. She has been in ensembles at the Mendocino Middle Eastern Music and Dance Camp, Stockton International Camp, Society for Creative Anachronisms, and for Colorado Friends of Old Time Music and Dance events, and Pomegranate Studios, Santa Fe, NM. 


In 2012 Meg founded the Farabi Ensemble in collaboration with Ahmad Soufiani. Farabi plays for Front Range Persian events and created a soundtrack for David Taylor Zikr Dance with Shahrzad Khorsandi, choreographer. 


Music and dance build bridges from the past to the future by basking in the present.  

Full Biography: 


Tahra Eissa

Tahra Eissa is a Denver-based musician originally from the Chicagoland area. Born to an Egyptian-Armenian household, she was surrounded by music of the Middle East but was originally taught in the Western music tradition on piano, flute and voice. Tahra discovered the joys of performing Middle Eastern music during her undergraduate studies when she took up qanun- the Middle Eastern lap harp. She has since participated in numerous classical ensembles including the Cornell Middle Eastern Music Ensemble and University of Chicago Middle Eastern Music Ensemble as well as a diverse set of takhts ranging from Balkan and Persian music to bluegrass, rock, and gypsy jazz. She has worked under the direction of artists such as Simon Shaheen, AJ Racy, Wanees Zarour, Issa Boulos, Jim Stoynoff, and Ronnie Malley. Currently, she is also involved in the Naghma Fusion Project and North African Al

Nabin Shrestha

Joining us from Boulder, Nepalese Hindustani classical musician Nabin Shrestha is a multi-instrumentalist on Indian Tabla. 

Since Nabin’s early childhood, music has always been an essential part of his life and “Tabla” is the medium by which he was introduced to the world of music and rhythm. In combination with the guidance of his Guru Shree Rabin Lal Shrestha and truly inspired by Brother Rajendra Shrestha, Nabin began learning tabla at the age of (9) nine years old. To this day, he still views himself as a continuing student in an ever expanding exploration of the beauty in musically interpreting dynamic rhythmic sounds while performing the Tabla. While pursuing his academic studies in music, Nabin received a scholarship from the Indian Council for Cultural Relationship to pursue music at Aakhil Bharatiya Gandharva Music University of Delhi. During his stay in India he got the rare opportunity to further develop his knowledge with some of the greatest musical masters/gurus such as, Ustaad Shri Faiyaaz Khan and Shri Tansen Shrivastav. Upon completion of a Master’s Degree from Ghandharva Nabin received an exceptional opportunity to further his musical studies under the guidance of the greatest tabla maestro of all time ”Taalmani Pandit Sureshji Talwalkar”.

After completion of his master’s degree in music, Nabin has been busy with various recordings, performances and music lesson offerings at the University in Nepal. Nabin has recorded various albums Raaganubhuti A Classical Vocal Album, Redrums Fusion with traditional drums from Nepal and Murchchhanaa Jazz fusion album.

At present, he is in the US performing with wonderful artists of various genre , recording, composing music and a offering Tabla lessons.

Eric Zang

 Eric Zang is a multi-instrumentalist on kaval (flute), oud (fretless lute), cajon (box drum), and a variety of percussion. He is an avid explorer of traditional music from around the world, with much performance Flamenco experience and in bringing flavors of Middle Eastern, Persian, African and Indian music to his ensembles

Pete Jacobs


Pete Jacobs is Co-Director and our beloved House Bassist.  He lives in Broomfield, Colorado.   Pete started playing the bass in junior high school in New Jersey and played rock and jazz gigs in the Denver area throughout the 1980s and 1990s.  He was introduced to Middle Eastern music in the 1990's and started playing bass in the Saltanah Ensemble performing in the Denver and Boulder area.  He picked up the oud in 2003 and started attending the Mendocino Middle East Music and Dance Camp, where he studied under many great musicians, including Souhail Kaspar, Naser Musa, Yair Dalal, Scott Marcus, Yuval Ron, and Souren Baronian.  He played for years with Dawn Green for Susana Del Veccio's dance retreats.  Besides playing with Zuruna, Pete has also performed in the Denver and Boulder area with Yuval Ron, Rachid Halihal, the Zevk Ensemble, Meg York's Hejazz Messengers, and the Cameron Powers Project.   He hosts a Turkish Sufi Sing at his home, and accompanies Iranian Sufi singer Sholeh Malekzadeh Mani.  Pete is a big part of the Columbine Unity Church near Boulder, Colorado.  

Pete is co-founder of Tarab Retreat, an international live music and dance event in Colorado Springs that brings together musicians and dancers that crave live music.    

Pete especially loves the opportunity to make new personal and cultural connections through the gateway of music.  

Pete will lead Turkish Ilahi Sing-a-longs and guide our Opening and Closing Circles.

Donovan Warnick and James Messerich

Donovan Warnick joins us from Wellington, Colorado.  A world traveler, activist, and community leader, he is a fixture in the Front Range and national level Society for Creative Anachronisms events.  Donovan has lead ensembles and accompanied live dance events for three decades.  He is a favorite teacher and performer at Elevation Belly Dance in Golden, CO, Estrella War, and Pensic War, as well as hosts events for live music and dance in Fort Collins.    

Since the age of 10 Donovan has been annoying those around him with his incessant drumming.  Initially focusing this energy into Colorado Honor Band, Donovan eventually joined the drum line of his high school marching band as well as the symphonic band and drum ensemble.  Once out of high school, percussion took a back seat to engineering studies at Colorado State University until the faithful day he stumbled upon the Society for Creative Anachronisms.  Within the S.C.A. (in which people re-create the middle ages) Donovan again found himself with a drum in hand, though this time it was hand percussion.  Garnering tremendous guidance and instruction from a dear friend; Billy “Sylvanus” Woods, Donovan continued to explore and develop his skills as a hand percussionist and a teacher reaching the level of Laurel, or Master of Drumming within the S.C.A. in 2018.   Over the years Donovan has taught and learned from hundreds of drummers of all ages, explored traditional Tabla Baladi and Riq technique with Souhail Kaspar, played with Denver based band “Jurjuna”, and performed with Colorado based band “Kara Nomadica” which recorded their full length self titled LP in 2008.  Donovan is a  studio artist for “Wine and Alchemy” on their 2010 album What Dreams May Come.  Donovan's love for world music and soul-lifting percussion continues to drive his musical aspirations and teaching to this day.


Ensemble percussion player, James Messerich joins us from Arvada, Colorado.

Originally from a small Dutch town in upstate New York, has lived in Tucson, Grants, Albuquerque, and Denver. He's been playing hand drums for over 30 years. His main instruments are the darbuka, along with the Riqq, frame drum and Bodhran. He plays Turkish, Arabic, Balkan, North African, and Israeli music, as well as American and Celtic folk. He has played with many Denver-area bands, including the Rhythm Slaves, Abbey Rogues, Sherefe & the Habibis, Dunya Divani, Saltanah, Skean Dubh, and Zuruna.   

Catrene Malshey Payan


Catrene is a sought after vocalist, author, composer and activist in the Front Range of Colorado.  She is featured on concerts at the Mercury Cafe, Dazzle Jazz, CU Boulder, Colorado College, CU Denver, Aurora Global Fest, the St. Ravka Lebanese festival, among many other cultural outreach events promoting world peace.  She often collaborates with Hal Aqua and the Lost Tribe.  

Her Middle Eastern ensemble Zuruna fosters the sensuous rhythms and sounds of music from North Africa, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Turkey, Israel and Palestine. As an Arab Israeli from Haifa, Ms. Malshey is dedicated to promoting songs of peace, love, and healing.

The ensemble includes Annie Aqua (violin), Pete Jacobs (oud), James Messerich (percussion), and Theo Anbacher-Hunt (percussion). Band info: