Biography

Palestinian-American musician Mike Khoury (1969) was raised in Mt. Pleasant, MI. He studied violin in the local school systems with instructors Kerry Goodwin and Nancy Smith. During his formative years, Khoury also played electric bass in several rock groups. Exposure to the visual arts, especially abstract expressionism, played a large role in Khoury's early years.


An interest in alternative tunings and the desire to create sonically intense music reflective of his ethnic background and interest in psychedelia led Khoury to the Urban Farmers. With multiple shows under their belt, the all instrumental trio issued one full length CD and had several of their pieces issued on various compilations. Khoury was one part of the proprietorship that was Uprising Records with childhood friend and musician Greg Marten. Uprising Records issued records by many notable groups of the era.


Upon migrating to the metro Detroit area, Khoury resumed his violin performance and private studies on the instrument with a focus on free improvisation.  Studies with violinist/composer David Litven helped to shape his technique and approach.  Performance and recording credits include those with Faruq Z. Bey, Luc Houtkamp, Le Quan Ninh, Maury Coles, Dennis Gonzalez, John Voigt, Gunda Gottschalk, John Butcher, Paul Lytton, and John Sinclair. In 1997, Khoury formed the Entropy Stereo Recordings music label where he documented new and archival works by improvisors. The label is still active today.


In an effort to document his work on a personal level, Khoury formed the Detroit Improvisation label. Detroit Improvisation focused primarily on Khoury's journey as an improviser where his collaborations with other musicians were well documented including two DVDs of duets with dancer/choreographer Leyya Tawil.  


Khoury is a firm believer in learning the rules in order to break them, although the learning and breaking sometime happen simultaneously.  His studies in improvisation parallel his work in studying traditional violin technique and music theory.  He cites Halim El-Dabh, Lata Mangeshkar, Bill Dixon, Lucia Dlugoszewski, and Charlie Patton as influences.  As a trained economist, Khoury's approach to improvisation and music theory is informed by his knowledge of statistics, mathematics and the behavioral sciences.  Khoury has also curated a long standing Detroit creative music series and has composed or contributed to music for film, television and radio

Today, Khoury conducts both ethnographical, sonic and historical research from his laboratory and studios in Redford, MI.  He has authored a chapter on the composer Halim El-Dabh published in an anthology on the Arab Avant Garde by Wesleyan University Press. Khoury also divides his time between his improvisational work and the Redford Civic Symphony Orchestra of which he is a member of the first violin section.  Current active projects include Inscribe (with members of Northwoods Improvisers and Wisaal), a duet with percussionist Ben Hall, a duet with dancer/choreographer Leyya Tawil, his work performing as an improvisational soloist and as the bass player for a garage rock band, the Confessions.

Festival Performances:

1999 Audio Obstacle Course (Livonia, MI)
2000 Ford Detroit Montreux Jazz Festival (Detroit, MI)
2000 Spirits Rejoice Festival of Improvised Music (Dearborn, MI)
2003 Big Sur Experimental Music Festival (Big Sur, CA)
2004 Spirits Rejoice Festival of Improvised Music (Dearborn, MI)
2006 EdgeFest (Ann Arbor, MI)
2007 Edgefest (Ann Arbor, MI)
2008 Edgefest (Ann Arbor, MI)

2011 Art on the Fly Festival (Seattle, WA)
2011 River Raisin Festival (Blissfield, MI)
2013 DIWAN (Dearborn, MI)
2015 DIWAN 6 (Dearborn, MI)
2015 Edgefest (Ann Arbor, MI)
2016 Sol of the Lost Tamarack Festival (Wolverine, MI)
2016 After the Last Sky Festival (Berlin, Germany)