(CHATHAM, N.Y.) – Grammy Award-nominated oud player Simon Shaheen, considered by many to be one of the most significant contemporary Arab musicians and composers, performs his unique blend of Arabic, jazz and Western classical styles at PS21: Performance Spaces for the 21st Century on Saturday, June 30 at 7:30 pm. Shaheen will be accompanied by percussionist Dafer Tawil.
A Palestinian-American born in the village of Tarshiha in the Galilee, Shaheen began playing music at the age of three, first the oud, then the violin. (The oud is a pear-shaped stringed instrument commonly used in North African and Middle Eastern music.) “When I held and played these instruments, they felt like an extension of my arms,” he said.
Shaheen’s father, a music professor and a master oud player, was a powerful influence in his musical life. “I was exposed to the best of traditional Arab music from different parts of the world, including Western classical and Indian music, Persian, and many others,” Shaheen said. “I grew up with this duality of playing on the oud and the violin and this duality kept haunting me throughout my life.”
Shaheen moved to New York City in 1980 to complete his graduate studies at the Manhattan School of Music, and later Columbia University. His numerous concert credits include Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, and many others around the world. In 1994 he was presented with the National Heritage Award at the White House for his contribution to music, and in 2001 he and his band, Qantara, won 11 Grammy nominations for their album Blue Flame.
This concert is the third and final program in PS21’s “String Theory” series, which has featured exceptionally accomplished string players from diverse musical and cultural traditions. (Previous performers included classical cellist Yehuda Hanani and klezmer fiddler Alicia Svigals.)
Tickets for Simon Shaheen are $30 general admission, $25 for PS21 members and $18 for students. The concert will begin at 7:30 pm. PS21: Performance Spaces for the 21st Century is a not-for-profit organization in Chatham, N.Y., dedicated to the performing arts and to serving a diverse community with concerts, programs and residencies by professional artists and ensembles, youth and children’s programming and cultural education opportunities for all ages.