Mavrothi Kontanis is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, composer and teacher born and raised in the US, but with roots in Halkidiki, Greece. Mavrothi's main instrument is the oud, and he has studied and performed with many of the world's renowned players. His passion for performing is matched by his love of teaching and composing music.
By keeping an open mind and drawing from his diverse experiences as both a Greek and an American, Mavrothi creates music that is both Eastern and Western, old and new.
Mavrothi has performed throughout the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, can be heard on numerous recordings and movie soundtracks. He currently teaches elementary music in Newark, NJ, and is the leader and founding member of the Maeandros Ensemble and Mild Mannered Rebel.
Kane Mathis began his study of the Oud in 1998 with Mutlu Torun of the I.T.U. conservatory in Istanbul, Turkey. He then pursued 5 years of private study with Munir Nürettin Beken. He tours internationally and has been a visiting artist at ethnomusicology departments in the U.S. and Europe. He is a recipient of a Chamber Music America grant and is widely commissioned to compose for modern dance and media. Kane is also known for his 17 year study of the the Mandinka harp, kora.
Brian Prunka spent his musically formative years immersed in the jazz community of New Orleans and for the past decade has been based in Brooklyn, composing and performing jazz and middle-eastern influenced music with his own projects (such as Nashaz, Sharq Attack and Near East River Ensemble). In addition, he plays with the traditional ensembles Zikrayat and the Bil Afrah Project as well as working with various other artists such as Simon Shaheen, Michael Bates, and Ravish Momin. Brian began his deep study of Arabic music nearly 20 years ago when he began playing the oud and has been the only American invited to teach at Simon Shaheen's renowned Arabic Music Retreat.
Amal Waqar is a dynamic young Omani/American oud player, composer, and activist
She began developing her passion for music at age four by nourishing her fascination with music from all over the world. A month before turning fifteen Amal’s tireless pursuit of music materialized in receiving the gift of an oud. After five months, she was discovered by Salim bin Ali al-Maqrashi, Oman’s oud virtuoso, and was taken on as his protégée. Under his tutelage, she quickly began performing with Oman’s leading musicians in national festivals and broadcasts.
At seventeen, she made national headlines as the first woman and youngest musician in Oman to debut in a recital. After graduating high school with an International Baccalaureate Diploma, she moved to Oberlin College & Conservatory in Oberlin, Ohio where she began pursuing a pre-law degree focusing on Middle Eastern feminist studies. Amal relocated to Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, to pursue a Bachelor's of Music, now studying closely with oud master Simon Shaheen.