Kay Hardy Campbell


Kay is very active in the Boston area Middle Eastern music scene. She plays classical and folkloric Middle Eastern Music on the `ud (long necked fretless Middle Eastern lute). Kay studied `ud with the late William Nakhly, Simon Shaheen and Bassam Saba. She is a founding member of the Middle East Music Study Group Ensemble at Harvard University that for many years sponsored an annual seminar series at Harvard and performed public concerts of the classical and folkloric repertoire. Since 1991, she has performed with the group in concerts in the Boston area, including events at Harvard, MIT, Wellesley College, and Boston College.

Link to a recent Christian Science Monitor article about the Harvard ensemble as well as other college based Middle Eastern music groups in the U.S.

Kay is musical director for Daanah, an all women's ensemble focusing on women's music traditions of the Gulf. She also performs with Qaisuma, an ensemble that plays traditional Arabic music as well as original compositions influenced by it.

Arabic Music Retreat: Kay co-founded and acts as Administrative Director of the annual week-long Arabic Music Retreat, held annually at Mount Holyoke College since 1997. Executive and Artistic Director Simon Shaheen leads the retreat faculty of master musicians including Dr. Ali Jihad Racy of UCLA, Dr. George Sawa of Toronto, and New York's Bassam Saba. In 2004, Lebanon's `ud master and composer Charbel Rouhana joined the Retreat faculty. The retreat attracts diverse participants ranging from teenagers to doctors, men and women, representing diverse religious and cultural backgrounds. During the week, everyone there puts their differences aside and focuses on making music together. Kay manages all aspects of the Retreat, from the big picture to the most minute and complex scheduling details, working with a diverse group of musicians, scholars, participants and staff volunteers. Sponsored under the umbrella of the New York nonprofit Arab American Arts Institute, the Retreat is entirely self-funded, using grants only to support scholarships for participants. The Retreat uses scholarship funding to assist western participants and to bring talented young students to the Retreat from the Palestinian National Conservatory of Music. For more information on the Retreat, please contact Kay. If you would like to join the Retreat's email list, please send a blank email to: arabicmusicretreat-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

Read the Saudi Aramco World article about the Retreat by Piney Kesting. PDF version with photographs by Robert Azzi.

Shoma: Kay wrote the script for, and acted as music director for the 1998 theater performance of Shoma, produced and choreographed by Cassandra Shore and the Jawaahir Dance Company, directed by Carolyn Goelzer. This full-length production played to sellout houses at Southern Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota in July, 1998. Based on the Bedouin tale told by a woman storyteller, Shoma combines storytelling, theater, poetry, Gulf and Saudi music, and traditional Middle Eastern dance. It features a small ensemble of women musicians, as well a company of actors and the acclaimed dancers of the Jawaahir Dance Company. Sumptuous costumes are by Eileen O'Shaughnessy. Articles and reviews of Shoma. Slide show of Shoma (scroll to bottom of page for slide show).

Shoma is set at a women's wedding party in Saudi Arabia, where the mysterious, elderly woman storyteller Shoma is invited to try to smooth the waters between the bride and groom's families. The bride's family is extremely liberal, and the groom's family is ultraconservative. Shoma entertains the women guests by spinning a tale about a teenage shepherdess who gets lost in a desert sandstorm only to be rescued by a handsome young man. Will she be allowed to marry him, even though he's from outside the tribe? Will her reputation be ruined and will her father forgive her because she spent time with the young man alone, lost in the desert? Only Shoma, the storyteller, knows how it will end. A shortened matinee version of Shoma was performed at the St. Paul, Minnesota Capital New Year in 1998 and 1999 at the Ordway Theater. The Jawaahir Dance Company has been seeking additional performance venues for this production. For more information on Shoma, please contact Jawaahir Booking.