Simon Shaheen, whose performances range from the classic Arabic repertoire to an energetic fusion of Arab, jazz, Western classical, and Latin American music, will perform with his band Qantara at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, in Kilbourn Hall as part of the Eastman School of Music’s World Music Series.
Described as a virtuoso on the violin and the oud, a Middle Eastern lute, Shaheen is considered one of the world’s leading Arabic and Middle Eastern musicians. He has been praised for his soaring technique and melodic ingenuity that transcends boundaries of genre and geography.
Shaheen took up the oud at the age of five and started studying violin at the age of six. He graduated from the Academy of Music in Jerusalem in 1978, where he taught for two years. Since 1980, Shaheen has been based in New York City, where he formed two bands and produced the annual Arab Festival of Arts. Shaheen’s 2001 fusion album Blue Flame, released with his group Qantara, was nominated for 11 Grammy Awards.
Besides Shaheen, members of Qantara include Bassam Saba, flute and nay, a wind instrument; Brad Shepic, acoustic guitar; Thomas Bramerie, double bass; Najib Shaheen, oud; Michel Merhej, percussion; and Matt Kilmer, percussion.
Passionate about educating the world in the subtleties of Arabic music, Shaheen holds workshops and lectures and demonstrations in schools, colleges, and universities. As a performer, he has presented concerts in such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Cairo’s Opera House, the Theatre de la Ville in Beirut, and Belgium’s Le Palais des Arts. In 2004, he appeared in Quincy Jones’s “We Are the Future” concert in Rome to raise funds for child centers in war-torn countries.
Tickets to Shaheen’s concert are $18, $12, and $8 (discount with UR ID) and go on sale starting Tuesday, Sept. 4, at the Rochester Philharmonic Box Office, 108 East Ave. (585) 454-2100. Shaheen will be giving a pre-concert lecture starting at 7:15 p.m., open to ticket holders for the event. This concert was supported by The New York State Music Fund, established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.
Shaheen’s concert launches this year’s World Music Series at the Eastman School. On Thursday, Oct. 18, musicians from six countries will present a multi-media concert titled “Spiritual Sounds of Central Asia.” The Japanese chamber music group Ensemble East performs on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008, followed by the Afro-Brazilian troupe Ologundê on Thursday, March 25, and Gamelan Lila Muni, the Eastman School’s Balinese percussion ensemble, on Tuesday, April 29.
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Tuesday, September 25
World Music Series: Middle Eastern musician Simon Shaheen
26 Gibbs St.
Tickets $18, $12, $8 (discount with UR ID), on sale starting Tuesday, Sept. 4, at the Rochester Philharmonic Box Office, 108 East Ave. (585) 454-2100.