Ahmed Moneka and Friends

Ahmed Moneka, voice & percussion

Since arriving in Toronto from Iraq Baghdad, 5 years ago, my contributions as a performing artist in music and theatre have been welcomed and notable. The scene has warmly embraced my Iraqi artistic heritage – my stories and songs – into its own growing cultural narrative. I’ve found myself enriched through many collaborations including: Canadian Opera Company, Soulpepper Theatre, Aga Khan Museum, Tafelmusik, Driftwood Theatre Group, TD Toronto Jazz festival, Koerner Hall, Modern Times Stage Company, Lula World, and Jaberi Dance Theatre and Tabula Rasa Theatre. I’m one of the founders of Moskitto Bar and the creator and leader of Moneka Arabic Jazz. I’ve been an artist-in-residence with Driftwood Theatre Group; a member of NoteWorthy at The Musical Stage & Prime Mover; a member of Soulpepper Academy; and one of the Stingray Rising Stars finalists 2019 at TD Toronto Jazz festival.

Demetri Petsalaki, percussion

Originally from Athens Greece, Demetri Petsalakis performs in a variety of styles with a focus on Greek and Middle Eastern lutes. Influenced by the rich cultural diversity of Canada, Demetri incorporates musical elements from different traditions in order to create a contemporary sound that represents both his heritage and the community that he is a part of.  An active member of the Toronto world music scene Demetri has recorded and performed with groups including Kune, Tafelmusik, Ventanas, Near East Trio, Zephyr, Turkwaz, Moneka Arabic Jazz and Moskitto Bar.

Fethi Nadjem, electric violin & kora

Fethi Nadjem was born in 1983 in Algeria where he grew up in a family of musicians. He began playing the guitar and oud at the age of 13, and developed his skills within the Fine Arts Association in Algiers, learning Andalusian music, and playing violin and mandole. At the age of 21, he co-founded Djmawi Africa, a fusion band that still, over a dozen years later, performs around the world, and in which he began playing the kora. Soon after arriving in Toronto, he began playing with several bands and musicians, including Jesse Cook, Moskitto Bar, Moneka Arabic Jazz, Maryem Hassan Tollar, and more, and with his own fusion music project. Since 2019, Fethi Nadjem has become a permanent band member of Jesse Cook’s, and has continuously since then, composed and recorded new songs with Jesse Cook. 

What makes Fethi Nadjem an exceptional musician is his multi talent, both in playing and mastering 10 different instruments, as well as fitting and fusing several musical genres over the past 20 years of experience and music creation. Fethi Nadjem also impresses the audience with his unique way of playing the violin vertically, leaning on his knee. Combining his creativity and onstage original and improv performance, he has won over many American fans to take interest in his talent and grown his American audience.