CAC Youth's Orchestra

Under Direction of Virtuoso Layth Sidiq


CAC Youth's Orchestra welcomes youth and children to learn both contemporary and traditional Arabic music with the best teachers and musicians in the US. The program consists of two ensembles for beginners and more advanced students.

Instrumental group lessons will be held 2 times per month. Orchestra group lessons will be held 2 times per month on Sundays following CAC Arabic School Calendar.

The Orchestra will perform two concerts per year.


Families will be responsible for purchasing or renting the instruments.
To rent Violin, Cello or Percussion instrument, you can contact: Music & Art at 888-731-5396.
To purchase Qanun from the US or the Middle East, our Qanun teacher Jamal Sinno provided the following specification to look for: "It must have at least 5 mendels or O'rab...Syrian Qanuns are well made and the workmanship is reputable. Turkey also is preferable since they make a smaller size Qanun that is more practical."
Please ask us about renting Oud and Qanun.

If you have any questions on purchasing or renting the instruments please email us at

To rent an instrument (Oud or Qanun) from CAC, click on "Buy Now" to pay with Paypal


Tuition: $610/ semester and $1215 for the entire year from Sept. 15, 2019 till May 31, 2020. ($45/ hour)
Program Location: Brimmer and May School
Class Times: Instrumental group lessons from 4- 5 pm and 5-6 pm. Orchestra lesson from 5-6 pm.

You can register by paying online or mailing a check with the registration form to CAC address at 191 Highland Av. 6B Somerville, MA 02143

Students must give at least 24 hour notice to the teacher if they cannot attend the lesson unless it is due to sickness or strong emergency. In the event that the teacher must cancel the class, there will be make up lesson rescheduled in our location in Somerville. The dates for any make up lesson will be determined by the teacher and the students.


While we are happy for parents to attend the first lesson, to feel reassured that the classes are taught in a manner commensurate with their expectations, we ask of you to please wait for your children in the dining room area of the Brimmer school, which is designated as the waiting area for our use.

This policy creates a sense of independence for the student, it strengthens the bond between the teacher and the student and it allows the teacher to give the student his/her undivided attention. Feel free to collect your children from their classrooms, so that the teacher can communicate with you at the end of each lesson what was covered and how you can assist your child in his/her weekly practice.

A Message from the Orchestra Director:

“An orchestra is a community, a gathering of like-minded individuals with the aim of making music together as well as reinforcing the shared human values that make us a better society. At the Center for Arab Culture Youth’s Orchestra, students will benefit from studying with some of the best Arab musicians in the country, both privately and as a group, as well as being part of a dedicated ensemble that will prepare and perform Arab music from its traditional repertoire to its contemporary.

The future is in the hands of our youth. With the goal of preserving and integrating Arab music within the community, this orchestra will be an essential educational experience that will bring the youth closer to the roots of Arab music in both traditional and non-traditional formats. It will also be a space where they build their character, meet other peers, appreciate and play Arab music instruments and develop the skills they’ll need to become future leaders in their fields.”
-Layth Sidiq, CAC Youth’s Orchestra Director

Orchestra 2019/2020 Calendar

If you would like to support the Orchestra Program you can donate using the donation button below. Your donation will help CAC in establishing the first Arab Orchestra Program for the children in New England.
Your tax deductible donation will be used for the sole purpose of improving, sustaining,and expanding the Children Orchestra Program at CAC. Any amount will make a difference!

The Orchestra Teaching Team:

Layth Sidiq, Violin and Orchestra Director

Globally acclaimed violinist and composer Layth Sidiq is a leading Middle Eastern violinist on the world music stage, a unique classically trained musician who has been featured on Latin Grammy winning albums as well as on stages such as the Royal Albert Hall, Abu Dhabi Festival, the Concertgebouw Hall, the Dominican Republic Jazz Festival, the Jerash Festival and the WOMEX Festival. Layth’s latest album Son of Tigris is a clear example of how the combination of Arabic music and Jazz can function in a raw and unique musical environment which led for it to be presented at the Montréal Jazz Festival with his sextet.

Having studied at the National Music Conservatory, Chetham’s School of Music and earning a Masters degree with high honors in violin performance from Berklee College of Music and the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, Layth had the opportunity to study with award-winning artists such as Danilo Perez, Simon Shaheen, John Patitucci, Joe Lovano, Eugene Friesen, Adrian Levine and Timur Ibrahimov. He also performed and was featured as a soloist with artists such as Jack Dejohnette, Gary Burton, Jose Merce, Shankar Mahadevan, A.R Rahman, Javier Limón and Alejandro Sanz to name a few.

Layth plays a pivotal role in many internationally acclaimed ensembles including ‘The Global Messengers’ with Danilo Perez, ‘The Original Quartet’ with Javier Limon which was signed by IMG artists, ‘Qantara Ensemble’ with Simon Shaheen, ‘The Four Corners Quartet’, Qawsaan duo with Naseem Alatrash and the Vasilis Kostas/Layth Sidiq Duo.

Based in Boston where he currently directs the Arab Music Ensemble at Tufts University, Layth is a sought-after violinist, vocalist and composer in the US and abroad.

Bengisu Gökçe, Beginner Violin

Turkish born and raised, Bengisu Gokce is a multi-genre Violinist and Singer, known for combining in her music the Turkish roots with Eastern-European and Middle-Eastern traditions.
As a professionally renowned performer, Gokce’s versatile playing has led her to share the stage with several music icons including Mark O’Connor, Tigran Hamasyan, Aynur Dogan, Shreya Goshal, Toninho Horta, Shankar Mahadevan, Simon Shaheen, Amal Murkus, and Pablo Ziegler to name a few.
Throughout her career she has performed in various distinguished venues such as Lincoln Center (NY), Boston Symphony Hall, American Repertory Theatre, MFA Boston, Massachusetts State House, Roulette Intermedium (NY), Shapeshifter Lab (NY) and Monte Carlo Salle Garnier (Monaco).
A multi-award winning, Gokce is a classically trained violinist and a performance alumna of Mersin University State Conservatory in Turkey and ‘Hanns Eisler’ School of Music in Berlin, Germany. Most recently, Gokce has graduated from Berklee College of Music.

Ghassan Sawalhi, Oud

Born in 1992 in Jerusalem, Palestine, Ghassan Sawalhi is a producer, engineer, composer, arranger and Oudist whose skills and knowledge have been honed by his varied personal and musical experiences throughout his life.
When he was 11, Sawalhi joined Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Palestine to begin his journey with the Oud. In 2011, he co-founded Bil3aX band (pronounced “Bil’aks”) for contemporary and alternative music. Bil3aX addressed Palestinian political and social problems through their music, and toured around major venues in Palestine.
In 2012 Sawalhi began his journey in music production and engineering by collecting old records of traditional Arabic music and editing them to sound clearer. Over the next two years, as producing & engineering grew into his passion, he produced dozens of singles and collaborated with well-known singers and hip hop artists in the Middle East.
In 2014 Sawalhi was accepted to Berklee College of Music to major in Music Production and Engineering. His involvement in the production and engineering society at Berklee earned him his position as a Yale Thompson Scholar and helped him to form very strong connections and collaborations with many artists around Boston.

Mira Mussallam, Qanun

Naseem Alatrash, Cello

Palestinian cellist, Naseem Alatrash is dedicated to representing Arabic culture to the world audiences. His performance on cello is creative, untraditional and unique. An accomplished classically trained musician and improviser of diverse styles; Naseem has earned a reputation for fearlessly broadening the horizons of the cello on the world stage. After studying at The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Palestine, Naseem was awarded a full presidential scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music, in Boston USA.

Naseem went on to achieve the highest honors for BMus in cello performance. Later he received his Masters degree in Cello performance at the Global Jazz Institute at Berklee College of Music. At Berklee he studied with Grammy winning pianist Danilo Pérez, oudist/violinist Simon Shaheen, Cellist Eugene Friesen, Cellist Owen Young of the Boston Symphony and Violinist/Bassist Rob Thomas.

A soloist, recording musician, chamber musician, composer and teacher, Naseem continues his global performance career. As an educator Alatrash has been a faculty member at the Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program since 2014, in addition has been teaching privately in his home studio. He also is a has taught Cello workshops around the world at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan, At the Fedu Jazz Institute in the Dominican Republic, At Dar Almusqia in Bethlehem Palestine. He worked as an Orchestra coach coaching the Edward Said Conservatory Youth Orchestra’s Cello Section. In addition, he gave an improvisation workshop to the members of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. As a performer Naseem has been featured at Newport Jazz Festival, The Dominican Republic Jazz Festival, Abu Dhabi Music Festival, Lebanon’s Zouk Mikael International Festival, The Nancy Jazz Festival, Lebanon’s Beit Aldeen Festival, Aix-en-Provence Festival, Jerash Festival, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Lincoln Theater, Wigmore Hall, Koerner Hall, UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall, University of Michigan Ann Arbor Music Series, NYU Abu Dhabi Arts Center, Royal Opera of Oman and within the Aldeburgh World Orchestra’s London Olympic tour appearing at The BBC Proms in The Royal Albert Hall and at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. Naseem big achievements include performances alongside Ron Carter, Roger Waters, Terri Lyne Carrington, Eugene Friesen, G.E. Smith, Kenny Aronoff, Rami Jaffe, Luis Conte, Simon Shaheen, Javier Limon, Cafe De Silva, Lalah Hathaway, Jorge Drexler and for Alejandro Sanz at the Latin Grammy Awards in 2013, Bassam Saba, Charbel Rouhana, Scott Page, Carmine Rojas and many others.

Naseem continues to be a voice for Palestinian culture and advocate of its music through his global string quartet The Four Corners Quartet. Where each member of the quartet composes music inspired by their culture and they converse with their instruments creating powerful performance. His recent Project “Bright Colors On a Dark Canvas” aims to use his original music combined with art to tell the stories of refugees. His goal is to raise awareness about different refugee crises and help raise money to support refugees around the world. Other than performing his solo work with his group, Alatrash tours with Amir Elsaffar’s Rivers of Sound Large Ensemble around the world. In addition, He performs with oudist/violinist Simon Shaheen, with the National Arab Orchestra and with “Qawsaan” a unique string duo with violinist Layth Sidiq. On the Arabic music scene, he has appeared performing also with respected Arab singers such as Tunisian singer Sonya Mbarak, Lotfi Bouchnaq, Lebanese singer Rima Khcheich, and Palestinian singers such as Ibrahim Azzam, Dalal Abu Amneh and Mohammed Assaf. The twice awarded “string player of the year” from The Marcel Khalife National Music Competition of Palestine, Naseem continues to be a voice for Palestinian culture and advocate of its music.

Tareq Rantisi, Percussion

Born in Jerusalem, Palestine. Tareq started his career playing Middle Eastern percussion at age 12 and as a young self-taught musician had already shared the stage with some of the most distinguished musicians in the region. In 2008, Tareq received the Al-Qattan Foundation Music Scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, receiving a degree in Percussion Performance. Tareq’s studies brought him into a deep dialogue with many styles of music including jazz, AfroCuban, Carnatic Indian, and Brazilian. Since Berklee, Tareq has developed a wide body of educational work, offering master classes, workshops and private lessons throughout the world in collaboration with Arabic Music Retreat, Brandeis University, The Center for Arabic Culture, and NAFDA.

Tareq lives in New York City and performs throughout the world.