A student of the late Udi Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian, Eric LaPerna, formed Zapion in 2010. Zapion plays folk, classical, Sufi, and art music from the Turkish and Arab traditions, as well as Armenian, Iranian and Balkan music. Zapion got its name from a Greek Taverna Udi Al used to perform at in the 70’s, and are doing their best to keep the music he loved alive.


Eric LaPerna has been a performing musician for over 25 years. He is well versed in many different styles of percussion but Middle Eastern hand drums and rhythmic systems are his specialty. He is a founding member of Okbari Middle Eastern Ensemble and Zapion and has played with some of Maine's most prestigious ensembles and performers including the Daponte String Quartet and the late Udi Alan Shavarsh Bardezbanian. Eric is the Director of the Bowdoin College Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, and is a member of the Applied Music Faculty at Bates College as well as adjunct instructor of hand percussion at Bowdoin College. He also teaches private lessons and workshops on Middle Eastern hand drums and music throughout New England.

Maria Wagner, clarinet and nay, has performed with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, PORTopera Orchestra and more, and maintains an active freelance career in Maine. She specializes in the performance of new solo and chamber music and has premiered many works for the clarinet and bass clarinet at new music concerts in Portland and New York City. Maria did her undergraduate and graduate study of classical clarinet performance and pedagogy at the University of Southern Maine with Dr. Thomas Parchman. Her primary teachers of music from the Middle East include master Armenian oudist and clarinetist Malcolm Barsamian, Middle Eastern percussionist Eric LaPerna, and also ethnomusicologist Dr. Ali Jihad Racy of UCLA when she attended Simon Shaheen's world-renowned Arabic Music Retreat. Maria lives in Portland where she maintains an active private teaching studio. She is also on the applied music faculty at Bates College offering nay lessons as well as on faculty at the Portland Conservatory of Music. Photo by Wohler & Co.

Driven by an endless curiosity, composer/multi-instrumentlist Nathan Kolosko’s musical interests cover a wide breadth of repertoire and genres. From Taiwanese aboriginal choral works to Hungarian chamber music his compositions have been performed and recorded by numerous musicians. Trained as a classical guitarist Nathan also performs on Oud and Kamancheh and has a deep interest in Persian and Arabic classical music. 

Nathan’s recordings have gained the attention of numerous critics. "A high-octane agenda from a guitarist with the skill, imagination, and confidence to bring it alive." - Classical Guitar, London. Collaboration is a source of inspiration for Nathan. He has a long-standing working relationship with musician Carl Dimow and artist Ling-Wen Tsai that has resulted in a body of work that is both eclectic and broad. 

Nathan has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including grants from the Allied Arts Foundation andD'Addario Strings. In addition to being a performer and composer Nathan is a dedicated teacher, devoted to the advancement of guitar pedagogy.

Sarah Mueller

Sarah Mueller, a Maine native, spent several years touring North America with her family's bluegrass band, appearing on four albums as a fiddler, songwriter, and arranger. She is an active session player, most recently appearing on the prog metal album Heliodromus by Sunrunner (Minotauro Records), and Am I Born to Die?, the well-received debut release of The Ghosts of Johnson City, a local folk/Americana band. She maintains an active interest in the traditional music of America, Eastern Europe, and more recently, the Middle East. She has performed with numerous regional orchestras, chamber groups, and ensembles, including Okbari Middle Eastern Ensemble, Cinder Conk, the Casco Bay Tummlers, and New Orleans-based Bulgarian folk trio Mahala. Sarah is a violin performance major at the University of Southern Maine, where she studies with Dr. Robert Lehmann. She has participated in masterclasses and workshops with Mark O'Connor, the Ying Quartet, Darol Anger, Yale Strom, and Mike Block, among others.

Guitarist Gary Wittner has been delighting audiences for over 30 years, performing and teaching music on 5 continents world wide. He has represented the United States overseas four times: twice as a Kennedy Center Jazz Ambassador, once as a Fulbright Grant recipient, and once as a US Embassy Outreach Artist. A specialist in the music and life of Thelonious Monk, Gary has presented concert/lectures on that topic throughout the United States and Europe. His book, “Thelonious Monk For Guitar” was published in 1999 and continues to inform guitarists worldwide. He has performed for Mrs. Nellie Monk (widow of Thelonious Monk), and been interviewed on the radio with Thelonious Monk, Jr. Gary has released 7 CDs of original instrumental Jazz, Latin music, Blues/Folk Americana and, most recently, his original vocal jazz compositions which he sings and plays on the guitar. A native New Yorker, Gary lives in Raymond, Maine and teaches at the University of S. Maine School of Music and Bowdoin College. 

Leon Harkleroad

Leon Harkleroad is an accordionist, pianist, and percussionist.  He plays with the Bowdoin Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, has performed with the Midcoast Symphony, was the sixth member of the Laid Back Brass quintet, and served as resident musician and music instructor for the Mainewoods international folk dance camp.  He has taught courses on the mathematical aspects of music and folk dance at Bowdoin, Bates, and Cornell, and presented workshops and lectures on this subject at colleges and conferences in Boston, San Diego, and many places in between.  His book for the general public, The Math Behind the Music, appeared in 2006 and after several printings continues to be published by Cambridge University Press.

Kinnon Church

Kinnon Chruch's professional life has taken him to three continents, where he has played in a variety of styles and settings. Equally at home in classical, musical theatre, and jazz, Kinnon is in high demand. Kinnon has worked with conductors Michael Schønwandt, Christoph Koncz, Christopher James Lees, the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, Maine State Music Theatre, the DaPonte String Quartet, Brad Terry, Steve Grover, and has given several world premieres of works. Most recently Kinnon played on the East Coast Regional Premiere of “Ghost the Musical”. Kinnon holds a Bachelor's Degree in Music Performance from University of Southern Maine, where he had the opportunity to study with bassist Bronek Suchanek, and cellist William Rounds. His mentor after college has been Erik Higgins (Philharmonisches Staatsoper Hamburg, A Far Cry), who has taught him about the bass and being a good human, and also guided him to winning an audition to study and play with members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra at the Internationales Orchesterinstitut Attergau. In Austria, Kinnon had the opportunity to study with WPO Principal and Associate Principal basses Herbert Mayr and Jurek Dybal. Off the bandstand, Kinnon loves biking, nature, and beer.

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