Sampling Middle Eastern music with Zourouna

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By Henry Shires

Photos by Louise Avery


Ariel Segal is one of that minority of hugely important individuals who firmly believe that they can still make a difference. Even in the troubled and terrorism-torn world of today.

The uniquely multi-ethnic, and multi-lingual Sassoon Yehuda Sephardi Synagogue in Balaclava Ariel is fighting for Middle Eastern inclusivity. But not just by his words but also through infinitely more potent and inspiring medium of music.


Thus, on a witheringly cold Sunday, Louise and I, along with a wonderful crowd of beautiful people braved the extremely cold weather to listen to this music born in very different temperatures.  What we found must be one of the most eclectic musical mixes since British Heavy Metal godfathers, Motorhead, joined forces with Middle Of The Road Irish Folk singing sisters, the Nolans, to take Britain’s Top Of The Pops by storm in the early 80s.

The only apparently uniting thing about Middle Eastern and Eastern Mediterranean Mix band Zourouna who play from an extremely wide and diverse repertoire of Israeli, Arabic, Greek and Turkish music and songs. The only thing I think they have in common with Motorhead is that, on this occasion at least, they were all dressed almost entirely in black.


At least one of their regular line up of musicians is: Israeli, Turkish, Greek and Lebanese.

And between the four of them they play: Guitar, Bouzouki, Violin, Oud, Cumbus, Darbuka, Daf, Riq, Zarb, Riq, Cajon and Bendir(At least half of which I have to admit I thought were the names of characters from Star Wars until I saw them so royally mastered by the members of Zourouna).

But what about the bloomin’ music, I hear you screaming at me, albeit metaphorically, from the back row.

Well to the, as yet, uninitiated you would get slight notes of Gypsy, Greek Wedding. And even a subtle touch of Fiddler On The Roof.

But don’t be limited by this hack’s hackneyed allusions. Go see Zourouna yourself at your earliest opportunity to enjoy the wonderful sophistication, complexity and pure spirit of their Pan Eastern playlist.

And, just perhaps, in some significantly improved future, if music can “soothe the savage breast”, who knows, perhaps it can help to “soothe the savage unrest” too?

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