Mashrabiya was founded in Crete in the summer of 2018, thanks to the encounter of Meira Segal and Tristan Driessens, two young composers with a passion for Ottoman, Central-Asian and Indian music. Inspired by their common musical backgrounds, their music reflects a free and modern approach related to a deep understanding of the roots of Eastern modal music. Throughout their first year of existence, the duet gave concerts in Latvia, Portugal, Switzerland, Turkey, Belgium, Morocco and Spain, a tour during which they occasionally invited guest percussionists, including Bijan Chemirani, Baltazar Molina and Yoni Ben-Dor.
Mashrabiya was soon to become a trio when officially joined by Catalan multi-instrumentalist Miriam Encinas, who fulfilled the group’s instrumental range with the sounds of Iranian frame drums (bendir and daf) and Indian dilruba. Together they write and arrange a program of original compositions that synthesize the ancient modal traditions of the East into a surprisingly new idiom.
Mashrab refers to wine and is used symbolically in the poetry of spiritual ascetics or sufis, when attempting to describe the ecstasy and beauty of the Divine Presence. In Central-Asian history, Mashrab the Madman (Diwana-I Mashrab) was a mystical poet from the Ferghana Valley, portrayed as a wanderer and drunken fool in the purest Sufi tradition. Through the transcendent practice of dhikr (sacred chanting), the sufi purifies heart and soul, diminishing its attachment to the world of forms known as dunya. In addition, the mashrabiya is a characteristic ornamented element in Arabic architecture, defined to give shade and protection from the hot summer sun and allowing the cool air from the street to flow through.