The Musicians

Peter Jacobs - Oud, Bass, Vocals

Pete Jacobs – Oud, Contrabass, Vocals

Pete started playing the bass in junior high school in New Jersey and played rock and jazz gigs in the Denver area throughout the 1980s and 1990s.  He was introduced to Middle Eastern music in the 1990s and started playing bass in the Saltanah Ensemble; performing in the Denver and Boulder area.  He picked up the oud in 2003 and started attending the Mendocino Middle East Music and Dance Retreat, where he studied under many great musicians, including Souhail Kaspar, Naser Musa, Yair Dalal, Scott Marcus, Yuval Ron, and Suren Baronian.  Besides playing with Zuruna, Pete has also performed in the Denver and Boulder area with Rachid Halihal, the Zevk Ensemble, and the Cameron Powers Project.  Pete especially loves the opportunity to make new personal and cultural connections through the gateway of music!

Catrene Singing at the Mercury Cafe October 2013

Catrene Malshy – Lead Vocalist

Catrene loves to share her voice and spread the joy of music and culture through songs from the Middle East. Singing songs that promote messages of love, peace and healing is Catrene’s dream come true. Born and raised in Haifa – Palestine / Israel, Catrene saw the importance of diversity and the value in sharing her childhood music to remind the world that there are so many people like her and so many children who want to see the Middle East full of successful stories. Growing up with people from all over the world learning how to live with each other and learning that different is OK, Catrene believes that melodies and music are the best magic that can bring people together. Through her voice and energy she brings beautiful songs to our ears in (various dialects of) Arabic, Hebrew, English and Spanish.  She co-wrote her first book with her friend Carrie Glenny called Peace through Healing, My Vision for a New Middle East. Catrene is also a budding solo artist, writing her own original compositions.

James Messerich - Percussion, Vocals

James Messerich – Lead Percussion (Darbuka, Frame Drum, Riq), Vocals

Jim started playing the darbuka in 1984 in New Mexico, when Mideast dance friends put a drum into his hands. He learned from Daveed Korup and Billy Woods as they discovered Middle Eastern music throughout the ’80’s. Jim moved to Colorado in 1988, and by the late ’90’s he had played with several groups, including Cameron Powers in Sherefe and the Habibis based in Boulder. He met Souhail Kaspar, who became his principle instructor in traditional Arabic styles. Jim especially thanks Joshkun Tamer and the amazing staff of musicians who taught at his Middle Eastern Music & Dance retreat held every summer in the Mendocino Woodlands. “It is a truly amazing and wonderful gathering of musicians and dancers from all over the world.” When not playing Middle Eastern percussion, Jim plays American and Celtic folk music.

Nay Solo - Lisa at Merc

Lisa Rooney – Nay, Flute

Lisa learned to play the silver flute at 11 years old, but it was not until two decades later that she began to explore the rhythms and sounds of Arabic music. While living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Lisa learned various Middle Eastern traditional dances and belly dancing. During this time, she became intrigued by the music she would dance to and one day participated in an Arabic percussion workshop. She fell in love with the rhythms and studied percussion for two years under Professor Miguel Abraham. Lisa then met musician and luthier, Martin Asaro, who taught her the basics of the nay – the Arabic flute. Upon being transferred to Denver, Colorado for her career in international education, Lisa joined the regional Middle Eastern Music Ensemble – Saltanah. With the comings and goings of new members, the group has now evolved into Zuruna Middle Eastern Ensemble. Lisa enjoys sharing the beauty of Middle Eastern music with all people and believes that humans can connect on a mysterious level via music and dance.

George Sepmeier - Violin, Oud, Guitar

George Sepmeier – Violin, Oud, Guitar

George began playing the violin and viola in middle school, and recorded three albums with the East High School Orchestra under the direction of renowned educator and saxophonist Keith Oxman. In 2013, he joined Zuruna and got his first taste of Middle Eastern music. Needless to say, he was hooked. “There’s a sharp learning curve before you really start to appreciate the music, but it’s definitely worth it.” says Sepmeier. George is currently pursuing his AA in Music at the Community College of Denver, and collaborates with several groups throughout Colorado.

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