Simon Shaheen
سيمون شاهين


Simon Shaheen was born in the Palestinian village of Tarshiha in the Galilee region of Israel. His father, Hikmat Shaheen, was a professor of music and master of the oud, and he began to teach his son the oud from the age of five. A year later Shaheen began to study the violin at the Conservatory for Western Classical Music in Jerusalem, and pursued his studies of Arab music further at the Academy of Music in the city. After graduating in 1978 he was appointed instructor of Arab music at the Academy, and then two years later he moved to New York to undertake postgraduate study at the Manhattan School of Music and Columbia University. Shaheen made his home in the US, forming the Near Eastern Music Ensemble in New York in 1982 and initiating a series of workshops and lecture/demonstrations in schools, colleges, and universities that continues to the present. Since 1994, Shaheen has produced the Annual Arab Festival of Arts in New York, and in that same year he received the prestigious National Heritage Award. In 1997 he founded the Arabic Music Retreat, a weeklong intensive programme of Arabic music studies held each summer at Mount Holyoke College. For the past decade or so, Shaheen has also been performing around the world with his group Qantara, which combines Arab, jazz, Western classical, and Latin American music.




Selected Recordings

Taqasim: Improvisation in Arab Music (with Ali Jihad Racy)
(Lyrichord LYRCD 7374)

Shaheen teams up with Ali Jihad Racy on buzuq to present three extended taqasim. There are detailed notes accompanying this CD, which describe the art of the taqsim and the maqamat used in these compositions.

1. Maqam Kurd 20:20
2. Maqam Nahawand 13:10
3. Maqam Bayyati 8:53

(Water Lily Acoustics WLA-ES-51-CD)

On this recording Shaheen collaborates with the Indian musician Vishwa Mohan Bhatt on mohan vina (an instrument which derives from the guitar and is played across the lap with a slide), Ronu Majumdar on bansuri (Indian flute) and Sangeeta Shankar on violin.

1. Dawn - Rāg Kirwānī / Maqām Nahawand 15:29
2. Ghazal - Rāg Vasant Mukhārī / Maqām Hijāz 16:09
3. Saltanah - Rāg Bagashrī / Maqām 'Ajam Mu'addal 8:28
4. Mists - Rāg Pahāri / Maqām 'Ajam 12:39
5. Dusk - Rāg Bhairavī / Maqām Kurd 15:30

(Times Square Records TSQD 9025)

Subtitled 'The Masterworks of the Middle East', this is a tribute to some of the great composers of Middle Eastern music, including Tanburi Cemil Bey, Riyad al-Sunbati, Mas'ud Jamil and Ali Jihad Racy. It is interesting to note that Shaheen plays bass oud on some tracks.

1. Bashraf Farahfaza (Isma'il Haqqi) 5:45
2. Sama'i Farahfaza (Tanburi Jamil) 6:31
3. Taqasim on Violin 1:32
4. Longa Farahfaza (Riyad al-Sinbati) 3:14
5. Taqasim on the Beat 9:28
6. Sama'i Nahawand (Mas'ud Jamil) 8:12
7. Tahmilah Suznak 6:21
8. Sama'i Nahawand (Ali Jihad Racy) 6:25
9. Bashraf Kurd (Adik Agaa) 4:16
10. Taqasim on Nay 1:13
11. Sama'i Kurd (Simon Shaheen) 5:51

Blue Flame (with Qantara)
(ARK21 159 462-2)

This album features Simon on oud and violin together with an array of virtuoso musicans that make up the group Qantara. The tracks combine more traditional Arabic melodies and rhythms with jazz and other influences. A particular highlight is the track 'Bosphorus Scenes under the Moonlight', which was composed for Shaheen by the late Cinuçen Tanrıkorur.

1. Blue Flame 6:17
2. Waving Sands 5:03
3. Tea in the Sahara 4:55
4. Dance Mediterranea 6:29
5. Bosphorus Scenes under the Moonlight 6:29
6. Silk Tears 4:13
7. Fantasie for Oud & String Quartet 6:55
8. Saraab 4:37
9. Olive Harvest 4:19
10. Al-Qantara 5:27
11. Breeze in Bisaan 4:46


TOP       BACK       HOME
Copyright © 2001-2015 David Parfitt. All rights reserved.