Joel Cohen, Artistic Director
In early 2007, Joel Cohen and a group of associates incorporated the Camerata Mediterranea as a non-profit association located in Chaville, France, near Paris.
Mr. Cohen is a leading authority in the field of medieval and Renaissance musical performance. He has received widespread acclaim as performer, conductor, and writer/commentator in his chosen field, and his unique style of program building has made the Boston Camerata ensemble famous on five continents.
Mr. Cohen studied composition at Harvard University. Awarded a Danforth Fellowship, he spent the next two years in Paris as a student of Nadia Boulanger. He has taught and lectured at many East Coast universities, including Harvard, Yale, Brandeis, and Amherst. Abroad, he has given seminars and workshops at the Schola Cantorum in Basel, at the Royal Opera of Brussels, in Spain, Singapore, and Japan. With soprano Anne Azéma, he has co-directed an annual workshop in medieval song in Coaraze, France. His professional honors include membership in Phi Beta Kappa, the Erwin Bodky award in early music, the Signet Society medal from Harvard, the Georges Longy Award, and the Howard Mayer Brown Award for lifetime achievement in early music. He is an Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of the French Republic.
In 1990, Mr. Cohen founded a new ensemble, the Camerata Mediterranea, devoted to the performance of early-music repertoires from the Mediterranean basin. The ensemble’s initial tour season took place in France, Italy, Spain, and Morocco; further tours from 1992 to 2004 brought the group’s music to audiences in France, the United States, Morocco, Germany, and Holland. Jointly with the Moroccan musician Mohammed Briouel, Mr. Cohen was awarded the Edison Prize in 2000 for the Camerata Mediterranea’s recording of Cantigas by King Alfonso el Sabio.
Kareem Roustom, Board President
Mr. Roustom is an Emmy-nominated composer who has composed music for film, television, the concert hall, theater and album projects. Steeped in the musical traditions of the Near East and trained in Western music, Mr. Roustom is a musically bi-lingual composer who has collaborated with artists ranging from the Philadelphia Orchestra to Shakira. Mr. Roustom’s awards include a fellowship to the Sundance Film Composers Lab, BMI’s Pete Carpenter Fellowship in film & TV music, and a CAP Award from the American Music Center.
Kay Shelemay, Board Member
Dr. Shelemay has served as Chair of the Department of Music at Harvard University where she currently teaches ethnomusicology. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy for Jewish Research, she is a Past President of the Society for Ethnomusicology. She is a Congressional appointee and former Chair of the Board of Trustees of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Dr. Shelemay’s current research is on Ethiopian music and musicians in the North American diaspora.
Anne Azéma, Board Member
French born vocalist Anne Azéma is one of the world’s leading interpreters of early vocal music. She has been acclaimed by critics on five continents for her original, passionate, and vivid approach to songs and texts of the Middle Ages. Her genuine and personal involvement with musical scholarship, combined with her performer’s flair for immediacy of communication, give her recitals and recordings both a historical depth and an expressive “edge” that are unique in the field. Anne Azéma has also been widely praised in many other repertoires, from Renaissance lute songs to Baroque sacred music to twentieth-century music theatre. Ms. Azéma’s current discography numbers over thirty-five recordings as a soloist, recitalist, and director. She is a founding member of Camerata Mediterranea, and Artistic Director of The Boston Camerata.
Dr. Benjamin Braude, Board Member
Benjamin Braude is an associate professor of history at Boston College. His research focuses on the construction of collective identities in the Middle East and Europe, as well as Jewish and Ottoman history. Specifically, he examines the formation of racial, religious and ethnic identity in Jewish, Christian and Muslim culture. He is currently at work on a project entitled “Sex, Slavery, and Racism: The Secret History of the Sons of Noah,” which examines the construction of attitudes towards identity from the ancient Near East to the present, and the role that the Biblical narrative of Noah’s sons played in the production of our modern racial imaginary. He is also the co-editor with Bernard Lewis of Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire: The Functioning of a Plural Society. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University.
Karim Nagi, Board Member
Karim Nagi Mohammed is the founding member, manager and director of Sharq. Karim teaches Arabic Music at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Karim also produces events including the famous Arabesque Mondays at Club Passim, where he promotes virtuosi Arab and Eastern artists. Karim is also a traeling lecturer and workshopist with his Arabic Music, ance and Culture presentations. He performs primarily Arabic, Turkish and Andalusian hand percussion, including the Egyptian Tabla (goblet drum), Riqq (tambourine) and Segat (brass castanets).
Boujemaa Razgui, Specialist
Boujemaa Razgui (ney, vocals, kamanja, percussion) hails from Marrakech, Morocco, where he studied the ney with local masters. Mr. Razgui is a ney virtuoso who has since gone on to perform and record witih the likes of Shakira, Cirque de Soleil and, Beyonce. Mr. Razgui made his first public appearance as flutist with the Marrakech Orchestra of Modern Music and went on to play in different groups accompanying national singers of Morocco. Mr. Razgui is now a regular with The Boston Camarata, The Sharq Ensemble, and Al Andalus Ensemble. Mr. Razgui is a multi-instrumentalist, performing all Arabic music styles from Andalusi, N. African, Oriental to Folk. He is also fluent in percussion, upright violin, and many indigenous Moroccan instruments.
Susanne Ansorg, Specialist
Susanne Ansorg studied German, musicology and musical pedagogy at the University of Leipzig. At the Schola Cantorum of Bâle, under Randall Cook and Crawford Young, she also studied string instruments of the Middle Ages and medieval music. She has played in medieval music concerts with various ensembles – including Sequentia, Gilles Binchois, Unicorn, Belladona and Ioculatores – throughout Europe, North and South America, Japan and Australia. Ms. Ansorg’s pursuits lie in the field of medieval instruments ad their use, and her professional activities involve projects and workshops on medieval music, as well as artistic direction and organization of the International Festival of Medieval Music “Montalbane.”
Yasmina Kamal, North American Project Coordinator
Yasmina Kamal is a founding member of Camerata Mediterranea. She began her career in Arts Administration as Executive Assistant to The Boston Camerata in 2005, and has since provided event management expertise to such organizations as Harvard University, AmeriCorps, the Passim Folk Music and Cultural Center, Simmons College and the University of Tennessee. In 2007 Ms. Kamal co-founded The Boston Performing Artists for Peace with Joel Cohen, coordinating a bi-partisan benefit concert to aid civilian refugees on both sides of the Lebanese-Israeli Conflict. As a charter member of Camerata Mediterranea, she has experienced great joy in helping to create an organization that encourages intercultural conversation. And with a multi-cultural family that spans four continents, she understands the dire importance of such dialogue on a very personal level. Ms. Kamal received her degree in Arts Administration from Simmons College, and is currently looking towards a graduate degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University.