After the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City in September of 2001, the unfortunate but unhappily expected backlash against Islamic people and all things Muslim took place. It didn't matter that those responsible for the act were no more representative of Muslims worldwide then right wing extremist Christians trying to bring about Armageddon represent the majority of their faith; if you looked Arabic you became the enemy. (Believe me, I know — I'm dark skinned, of Jewish descent and "look" Muslim enough for the rednecks from whom I had my share of "towel heads" thrown my way, which would have been laughable if it wasn't so sad and scary.)
Thankfully there are some saner heads in this world and, though it took a while to get off the ground, individuals and organizations around the Western world began work geared at countering the image of all Muslims as fanatical terrorists. MENA Music (ME - Middle Eastern and NA - North African) was set up in New York City in 2006 by Kazko Kawai, a Japanese American who has lived in the US since 1985. Her thought was that through music she could enhance mutual understanding between the Arab world and her new country. MENA are committed to bringing the best musicians of the Middle East and North Africa to North America in order to develop audiences for the music from those regions. Ironically the orchestras which have been brought to North America to date have predominately been ones playing music that originated in the West. Andalusia was once one of the cultural capitals of the Ottoman Empire which stretched from Istanbul through the Middle East, North Africa, across the Mediterranean into Spain, parts of Austria, Bulgaria, to the former Yugoslavia and most of the Balkans.
While under the Ottoman rule Christians and Jews were allowed the freedom to practice their religions and in some cases hold positions of real authority. (In Cordoba the principal advisor to the Caliph was Jewish.) After the Reconquista, when the Spanish retook their former territories, there was no reciprocation of tolerance. Under the Inquisition Muslims, Jews, and gypsies were forced to flee, convert or burn. It is the descendants of refugees in North Africa, primarily Jewish and Muslim, from this era who have preserved and developed the musical and poetic traditions from the Middle ages that formm the basis for today's Andalusian Music.
The Orchestra Of Tetouan were formed in 1944 in Morocco and is now into its third generation of musicians playing the music of their ancestors; and they are about to embark on a tour of the American Mid-West sponsored by MENA. So far dates have been announced in Madison, Chicago, Boston, New York, and Bloomington with tickets for the Boston and New York concerts, September 23rd and 24th respectively, currently on sale and available for purchase by following the links at the MENA home page. However, those wishing a preview of what's in store can search out a recording the Orchestra made a few years back on the Pneuma label called Escuela de Tetuan Tanger - Musique Andalouse (The School of Tetuan Tangiers - Music of Andalusia)