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About MENA Music

MENA Music was established in 2006 in New York City by Kazko Kawai in an effort to enhance mutual understanding between the USA and the Arab world through music in the post 9/11 world.  The organization is committed to bringing the best musicians from the Middle East (ME) and North Africa (NA) to the USA to develop audiences for music from these regions.

To date, MENA Music has produced several concerts introducing North African music to the American people, including two Andalusian orchestras of Morocco and one Algerian ensemble making their debuts in the USA; and live performances by leading Moroccan Andalusian musicians broadcast for the first time in the USA on national TV and NPR.
MENA Music presented Andalusian Music Festival in February 2009 at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City as well as Jordan Hall in Boston, Music Center at Strathmore in Washington, DC and Rialto Center for the Arts in Atlanta.  Featured artists included Orchestra of Tangier (led by the legendary master Ahmed Zaitouni), Orchestra Otmani of Fes (the most promising emerging Andalusian orchestra of Morocco) and Lotfi Bouchnak (the leading Andalusian musician of Tunisia).

MENA Music is currently a New York State non-profit organization, and is also a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization with the tax-exempt status.

About Founder Kazko Kawai

Kawai Kazko with Zaitouni
Kazko Kawai (Photo: Sarah Skinner)
Kazko Kawai, the founder and primary sponsor of MENA Music, is a native of Japan and has lived in the USA since 1985.  She graduated from Keio University in Tokyo with a BA in Economics, then completed her graduate studies at Columbia University in New York, earning an MBA in Finance.  Ms. Kawai worked for economic consulting firms before starting a translation business specializing in the legal and financial fields.

Ms. Kawai was the founder and president of Friends of German Choirs, a New York State non-profit organization that helped German choirs perform in New York.  Under the auspices of Friends of German Choirs, the renowned American Boy Choir of Princeton toured northern Germany.  Ms. Kawai also helped the choir of New York’s Cathedral of St. John, the Divine tour Japan.

Since 1989, Ms. Kawai has lived one block away from the site of the World Trade Center.  The events of September 11th, 2001 forced her to leave her apartment for over one and a half years, during which time she began learning about the cultures of the Middle East and North Africa.

In 2006, Ms. Kawai started MENA Music to introduce music from these areas to the people of America.  MENA Music is a long-term endeavor on the part of Ms. Kawai, and she wishes to develop a solid audience base for music from Middle East & North Africa in New York within five years.