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Naseer Shamma and Al-Oyoun Ensemble 

Performing Arts

Naseer Shamma and Al-Oyoun Ensemble

Sat, Mar 16, 2013 8 PM

“His technical prowess is bewitching…it transforms listening into a mystical experience.”—Al-Ahram Weekly

One of the leading exponents of the oud, Iraqi composer Naseer Shamma has had a tremendous impact on how the lute-like instrument is approached throughout the Arab world. Shamma has been director of Bayt Al-Oud (House of the Oud) at the Cairo Opera House since 1998. In addition to developing new techniques and expanding the tonal possibilities of the oud by designing an eight-string (rather than six-string) instrument, he utilizes new forms and elements from various cultures in his work. This innovative approach is keenly evident in the adventurous eight-piece Al-Oyoun Ensemble, which draws on tradition and classical forms as a launching pad for keen musical exploration. 

A humanitarian and activist whose charitable activities include relief work for Iraqi children affected by strife and war, Shamma experienced persecution for years under dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime. As a result, he left Iraq several times before settling in Cairo. Although he has performed in numerous international festivals over the past two decades, he has refused to perform in the United States since 2003 due to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. This tour marks his first performances in the States in more than a decade. Shamma hopes the passion and virtuosic precision of his music will serve as a bridge between cultures to spur empathy, respect, and mutual understanding. 

US tour organized by Alwan for the Arts

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