Muscari is a band that brings live traditional music of the Eastern Mediterranean to audiences in the Boston area. Originally formed in the spring of 2016 by friends George Lernis (Cyprus, percussion), Burcu Güleç (Turkey, vocals), and Melissa Lund (United States, oud), we promote multicultural community engagement and participation during our live performances.
Our group has expanded to include professional musicians and educators from Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Armenia, and the U.S. Our repertoire includes a range of regional music and traditional instruments from the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, with songs sung in Turkish, Greek, Armenian, and Arabic. Through music performance and education, we encourage audiences to sensitively discuss issues involving immigration, language, and cultural diversity.
At our performances, we provide an inclusive environment for diverse audiences to dance, clap, sing along, and talk with each other. During the current time of political turmoil and uncertainty in the U.S., we believe that projects that intend to unify people from various backgrounds are of utmost importance, and we look forward to sharing our music with you.
Burcu Güleç’s vocal journey began at the age of five, after discovering that singing came naturally to her. Since then, her greatest joy in life has been making discoveries in music through improvisation, and sharing it with her audience. Growing up in the hub of Ankara, Turkey, Burcu performed live over Turkish National Radio Television and many international jazz festivals. She studied child development and education at Hacettepe University, eventually working with deaf and hard-of-hearing children. After coming to Boston in 2010, Burcu attended Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory. Burcu has traveled the United States performing at festivals, getting involved with artistic projects, and growing herself and her repertoire. Burcu's music ranges from the classic Turkish of her childhood, to the various styles across the Middle East and Asia minor, jazz, improvisation, and electronic music. By drawing from the vast experiences of her life, Burcu's use of music seeks not just to entertain, but to educate, challenge, and spread diversity.
Melissa Lund is an oud player and multi-instrumentalist, originally hailing from Chicago, Illinois. Her musical journey began with the piano at the age of three, when she learned how to read music before she could read words. With the French horn as her primary instrument, she graduated from DePaul University before moving to Honolulu, Hawai’i; while there, she performed regularly with the Honolulu Symphony, Hawai’i Opera Theatre, and the Diamond Head Theatre. She moved to Boston in 2010, completing her Master’s degree at Boston University. After establishing a career in Boston as a professional horn player, Melissa discovered the oud and developed a passion for the music of the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Armenian diaspora. She has studied oud under the renowned Mal Barsamian and performed for audiences throughout greater Boston.
Born and raised in Nicosia, Cyprus, George Lernis is a drummer and world percussionist. In addition to the drums, George specializes in a number of world percussion instruments such as the darbuka, bendir, riq, kudums, davul, and cajon just to name a few. George holds a bachelor's degree in jazz performance from the Berklee College of Music and a master's degree in modern American music from the Longy Conservatory, and has studied with Bob Gulloti, John Ramsey, Jerry Leake, Mark Walker, Gary Burton, Victor Mendoza, and Gary Chaffee among others. Over the last few years George has recorded and collaborated with prominent figures such as Dave Liebman, Anat Cohen, Antonio Sanchez, Tiger Okoshi, Mehmet Ali Sanlikol, Robert Labaree, Bertram Lehmann, and Jerry Leake. Currently, George resides in Boston where he teaches privately and performs in a number of groups such as the Grammy-nominated big band What's Next?, the Dunya ensemble, The George Lernis Jazz Quartet, and Muscari, with whom he enjoys performing music from the Mediterranean regions and the surrounding areas.
Mal Barsamian's musical career began when he was four years old playing the dumbeg (hand drum) with his father Leo Barsamian at an Armenian picnic. Mal comes from a family of oud players starting with his grandfather, great-uncle, his uncle, and of course his father. He has gone on to become a sought-after oud player and clarinetist as well as performing on other instruments such as dumbeg, guitar, bouzouki, and saxophone in Armenian, Greek, and Middle Eastern communities throughout the country for the past forty years. He performed with the late Esber Korporcu, an important figure in Boston’s Middle-Eastern music community, and has also appeared with Mehmet Sanlikol’s Dunya organization. Mal is a specialist in music written by Armenian composers active in Istanbul during the later years of the Ottoman Empire. Also trained as a classical guitarist, he obtained his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in classical guitar performance studying with Robert Paul Sullivan from the New England Conservatory of Music. Mal is also on the applied faculty staff at Tufts University's World Music Department, teaching oud, saxophone, clarinet and percussion. He is also an applied faculty member at Boston College and leads the Middle Eastern Ensemble at New England Conservatory of Music.