About the Ensemble

Formed in 2006, London, Ontario’s The Light of East Ensemble has an extensive body of work rooted in the many lands of the Near and Middle East, and its seven stellar players perform this enchanting music with passion, sensitivity and respect.

The Light of East Ensemble's vibrant repertoire encompasses traditional, folk, Classical Arabic, Sephardic and Greek Rembetika, along with 20th century urban music from regions like Armenia, Greece (Asia Minor – Smyrni and Konstantinoupoli) and Turkey, and their neighbouring countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Israel. The timeless rhythms and beautiful melodies of the East are nothing less than mesmerizing, and when coloured with tints of Classical, Jazz, Celtic and Folk, they give The Light of East Ensemble a unique, worldly sound.

The current Light of East Ensemble lineup spotlights the professional talents of Mary Ashton (violin, harp), Jedd House (contra basso), Tracey Atin (vocals), Jana Starling (clarinet, accordion), Joel Jacobs (percussion) and Panayiotis Giannarapis (oud, bouzouki, baglama, tzoura, nay). Guelph belly dancer Ishra is a regular guest performer. Band members draw on diverse music backgrounds and experiences to offer a shared passion that immediately engages listeners. Panayiotis Giannarapis, the heartbeat of the Ensemble, has deep roots in Greece and Asia Minor. The addition of Windsor soprano Tracey Atin has enriched the group's existing repertoire and introduced music of the Sephardic tradition.

This award-winning ensemble (Forest City London Music Awards, Folk Music Ontario Showcases) captivates audiences in a variety of venues – from intimate performance spaces like Chaucer’s Pub (London) and Kordazone Theatre (Windsor) to major concert halls like The Aeolian (London) and bustling outdoor events such as the Guelph and District Multicultural Festival and the London Heritage Council’s Canada Day celebrations. In addition, The Light of East Ensemble provided recorded music for the Robin Soans play The Arab-Israeli Cookbook, which JM Drama presented at Kitchener’s Registry Theatre in May 2017.

With performance dates as varied as the 25th edition of London’s world renowned TD Sunfest, the inaugural Windsor Hummus Festival and receptions for CBC Radio London and Festivals & Events Ontario, 2018-2019 was a particularly busy season for The Light of East Ensemble. Also, it continues to attract top collaborators from other genres and disciplines, such as the International Symphony Orchestra (Sarnia/Port Huron) and London Symphonia conducted and arranged by Scott Good.

The LoEE has three well-received albums to its credit: Beyond Our Shores (2009), Live at The Aeolian (2015) and Sephardic Heart (2019). The latter release, recorded in November 2018 during a live performance at London’s Procunier Hall (The Palace Theatre), celebrates the music of the Jewish communities that flourished in Europe and the Mediterranean Basin after the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. Sephardic Heart (now for sale online and at concerts) is full of passionate love songs, poignant lullabies and fascinating history lessons.