The Kennedy Center

Bil Afrah Project


The Bil Afrah Project is a diverse group of musicians from New York City’s Arabic music community. Performing this evening are Zafer Tawil, Brian Prunka, Insia Malik, Marandi Hostetter, Simon Moushabek, Bridget Robbins, Josh Farrar, Tareq Rantisi, Sprocket Royer, and Michel Merhej. In addition to Mr. Merhej’s impressive resumé (including legendary musicians Fairuz, Farid el-­Atrash, Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Warda, and Sabah Fakhri), the members of this group have an extensive history of performing with musicians and ensembles such as Simon Shaheen, Natalie Merchant, the NY Arabic Orchestra, the String Orchestra of Brooklyn, the National Arab Orchestra, Matt Darriau, Nashaz, Amir ElSaffar, and others.

Watch Past Performances

Video 12/9/2018: The Bil Afrah Project

The Bil Afrah Project performs one of the Middle East’s most popular albums, Ziad Rahbani’s 1975 masterpiece Bil Afrah with Michel Merhej, the legendary percussionist who played on the original recording. The instrumental song suite features some of the Arab world’s most beloved standards and the dazzling taqasim (improvisations) for which the Arabic tradition is well known.