Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021

3 p.m.

Dorothy Menker Theater

Three amazing Syrian artists – one unforgettable performance. Join us as we pay homage to the history and culture of Syria with multiple musical genres including classical violin, spoken word, neo-soul and funk with captivating lyrics about love, loss, and a war in Syria that has directly affected over 10,000,000 people.


Bassell and the Supernaturals

Syrian Heart. Midwest Soul.

Bassel & The Supernaturals tells the story of Bassel Almadani's experience as a first-generation Syrian-American using soulful melodies, funk inspired rhythms, and captivating lyrics regarding love, loss, and the war in Syria.

Deeply inspired by Otis Redding, Bassel uses the stage as a vehicle to engage audiences in over 100 different cities across North America. In addition to performing in major festivals, performance halls, concert series, and clubs - the group works closely with organizations on events and residencies that build awareness and empathy for Syrian refugees. A substantial portion of their proceeds benefit the Karam Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization focused on building a better future for Syria.

Their sophomore release, Elements (2017), was premiered by Noisey/Vice, and led to their involvement in the nationally-acclaimed SXSW 2017 showcase 'ContraBanned: #MusicUnites' featuring artists from the diaspora of countries targeted by the travel ban. They've since been featured on PRI, Al Jazeera, Reuters, Paste Magazine, Huffington Post, NowThis, and many others. The album draws inspiration from artists such as Snarky Puppy, Jamiroquai, and Steely Dan's "Aja."

Bassel & The Supernaturals has performed in over 300 concerts between 2016-2019 on stages including SXSW, John F. Kennedy Center, Summerfest, and Millennium Park, and supporting internationally touring artists such as Youssou N'Dour, Brother Ali, Aesop Rock, Emancipator, The Dandy Warhols, Sinkane, and many others.

Upon returning from a service trip to Istanbul in September 2019 working with displaced Syrians, Bassel & The Supernaturals released their full-length album, Smoke & Mirrors, in April 2020. "Stepping Back in Time" was featured on Spotify's official "All Funked Up" playlist and recently surpassed 500,000 streams. The band collaborated with TedX Talks as well on their music video for “Calculated Love” featuring Chicago’s resilient youth in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bassel & The Supernaturals is committed to building a better future for Syria, and for young artists and entrepreneurs all around the world. The group organizes events and residencies with educational, cultural, and charity organizations related to the leader’s cultural heritage and professional experience in logistics management.


Syrian American Mariela Shaker is an international award winning violinist and motivational keynote speaker. She is the founder and director of Highams Park Music Academy in London. Mariela is a Violin faculty at Knox College and Monmouth College since 2018.  Mariela strongly believes in music as a tool to bring people from different backgrounds together and to fashion peace and love in our world. Mariela strives to inspire her students to express themselves freely and to find their own unique voice as performing artists.

Mariela began playing the violin after joining the Arabic Institute of Music in Aleppo in 1999. She graduated with distinction from the Institute in 2004 and taught violin there for five years while she completed her Business Administration degree at Aleppo University. In 2013, Mariela received a full-tuition scholarship to study Music Performance at Monmouth College in the US. Prior to graduating, Monmouth College bestowed upon her one of its highest honors: Excellence in Music Performance. Following her Bachelor of Arts, DePaul University awarded her a full-tuition academic scholarship for her Master’s in Music Performance.

Mariela served as Concertmaster for the Monmouth College Chamber Orchestra. She appeared as solo concert violinist with the Mesopotamian Symphony Orchestra at the California Theater; and, organized by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), gave her debut recital at the Kennedy Center to commemorate World Refugee Day on June 20, 2015. President Obama named her Champion of Change for World Refugees and honored her at the White House in 2015. During that same year, she also performed for members of the U.S. Legislature.

Her engagements in 2016 included an invitation by Cate Blanchett and the first Scottish Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, for performances in London and at the Beyond Borders International Festival in Scotland, respectively. On the invitation of the International Rescue Committee, she performed for Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan. In 2017, Mariela was appointed UNHCR High Profile Supporter and was also honored with the Anne Frank Promise Keeper Award in New York City.

Her more recent performances have included programs at the United Nations, the White House, Aspen Ideas Festival, Harvard University, MIT, King's College Chapel and Georgetown University among other prestigious venues. She has given recitals and masterclasses at more than 120 venues in the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, UAE, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and all over the US.  Mariela prides herself on her mission:  to use her music to build bridges, to promote peace and to raise awareness for the plight of refugees and vulnerable children. Mariela’s remarkable work ensures that not only her music, but also her voice be heard around the world for people in need.


Omar Offendum is a Syrian-American rapper / spoken word artist. Known for his unique blend of Hip-Hop & Arabic poetry, he’s been featured on prominent world news outlets, lectured at a number of prestigious academic institutions, collaborated with major museums & cultural organizations, and helped raise millions of dollars for various humanitarian relief groups. Offendum was recently named a Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow, an Arab America Foundation "40 Under 40" award recipient, and a member of both the Pillars Fund cohort for Muslim narrative change & the RaceForward Butterfly Lab cohort for immigrant narrative strategy. He currently resides in the great state of New York with his wife & two little children, while daydreaming about the jasmine tree-lined streets of Damascus. // Music / Lyrics available at :

Ronnie Malley

Ronnie Malley is a multi-instrumentalist musician, theatrical performer, producer, and educator.  He has collaborated with artists internationally, composed and consulted for many cultural music projects in film and theater,  appeared as a guest artist on several works, and is executive director of Intercultural Music Production in Chicago. Ronnie has a degree in Global Music Studies from DePaul University and is a teaching artist with Chicago Public Schools, Global Voices Initiative, and Chicago Arts Partnership in Education, a faculty member at Old Town School of Folk Music, and a guest lecturer at universities. He is an international artist and has performed with the music groups Allos Musica, Apollo’s Fire, Diwan Al-Han, EMME (East Meets Middle East), Lamajamal, Mucca Pazza, Newberry Consort, Surabhi Ensemble, and the U of C Middle East Music Ensemble.

Alyssa Arrigo

Alyssa Arrigo is a freelance pianist in Chicago and former rehearsal pianist at Chicago Opera Theater. As an adjunct faculty member at Moraine Valley Community College she has taught private piano instruction, class keyboard and music history classes. Alyssa is a graduate of the esteemed Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. While completing her master’s degree, Alyssa worked as an opera coach and rehearsal pianist for the IU Opera Theater. She regularly performs with small opera companies around Chicago including Chicago Fringe Opera and opera outreach programs for children. Alyssa received her bachelor’s degree in piano performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts with a minor in music theory. Ms. Arrigo is an avid collaborator. In 2011 she was seen with tenor Andrew Lunsford at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. She continues to collaborate with Chicago-area vocal and violin studios. Ms. Arrigo maintains a small private studio for piano students and vocal coaching.

Moraine Valley Community College acknowledges support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Illinois Arts Council Agency

Fine and Performing Arts Center Staff

Managing Director

Technical Director

Assistant Technical Director


Art Gallery Coordinator

Front-of-House Staff

Technical Crew

Tommy Hensel

Sean McIntosh

Amanda Hantson

MaryAnn Luciano-Smith

Cecilia Vargas

Ramsey Bauer, Karen Datro, Page Domikaitis, Tom Gerez, Robin Kmiec, Jim Novak, David Roczkowski, Lisa Rock, Sujith Saju

Jaclyn Bobbitt, Nathan Carpenter, Alex Craig, Samm Hilger, Jessica Miller, Tom Schoenbeck, Guadalupe Sosa, Quintin Turnbow

By attending this performance, you acknowledge that you have granted permission to appear in photographs, video capture and capture by other media in all public spaces in the Fine and Performing Arts Center. Your image may be used by Moraine Valley Community College for promotional purposes. This blanket permission releases and  waives any claim against the college and its employees arising from the use of such images in any medium.