The Cal Poly Arab Music Ensemble will be performing its spring concert with the Zaryab Ensemble at 7:30 p.m. on June 4.

This year’s spring concert will be joined by the Zaryab Ensemble, a group of musicians hailing from Iran and Tajikistan that is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento metropolitan area.

“The [spring concert] is particularly significant in that it wraps up the year of returning from COVID isolation,” Kenneth Habib, director of the Cal Poly Arab Ensemble and music professor at Cal Poly.

During quarantine, members of the ensemble had to transition to a virtual format. Habib said that the ensemble “did an amazing job of adapting to meeting virtually, of continuing to be musically active, and of crossing new thresholds of performing and producing music.”

When stay-at-home orders were lifted, the ensemble had to rebuild itself as a live performance group. It also had to catch up on previous plans and engagements that fell through due to COVID-19, Habib said.

This will be the third year that the Zaryab Ensemble is joining the Cal Poly Arab Music Ensemble which is a combined orchestra and choir with vocal and instrumental soloists.

“The last time they were slated to be here was in March 2020, when I had to cancel the concert two days beforehand due to COVID — a difficult task indeed,” Habib said.

The two ensembles both perform independently and collaboratively. Such performances include a regional folk song sung in both Arabic and Persian and Sephardic songs. There will also be a dance troupe led by San Luis Obispo dance director Jenna Mitchell. The troupe will perform “original choreography in continuation of a longstanding collaboration of music and dance in the concerts of the Arab Music Ensemble,” according to a news release.

“Among the missions of the Arab Music Ensemble is for its members and audience to experience a high quality of Arab and related music at Cal Poly and on the Central Coast,” Habib said. “The amount of associated diversity in the region of Southwest Asia and North Africa is tremendous, and while we couldn’t possibly cover all of it, we bring the parts of it that we can do well to the community.”

The Arab Music Ensemble of the Cal Poly Music Department performs each quarter.