Simon Shaheen

Simon Shaheen

  His name is connected to the traditional Arabic music, engraved in the jazz music and carved to the western classical type. He is a musician, composer, and oud and violin performer

He is the leader of "Qantara", an Arabic band, which received 11 Grammy Nominations for the album "Blue Flame".  His works marked the Arabic music with a flame of passion that broke the boundaries of several music types.  He was privileged with the National Heritage Award at the White House. His contribution to the Arabic music allows him to lecture and address people about the Arabic music situation in our time. Music is his life, Palestinian tunes defines his nationality…he is the great artist SIMON SHAHEEN.   Simon Shaheen, Palestinian artist, was born in Tarshiha and later moved with his family to Haifa, Israel. His father was a music instructor who played the oud. Hikmat Shaheen, Simon's father biased him into his world, the world of music; his grandfather was also the main singer at church who sang classical Arab repertoires; this influenced Simon and lead him to get attached to music thus it became his core interest. Simon Shaheen was an admirer of the great Arab artists Oum Qulthum and Mohammad Abdel Wahab. He learned to play the oud at the age of five years, and studied the violin at the Conservatory for Western Classical Music in Jerusalem.    In 1978, Simon Shaheen graduated from the Academy of Music in Jerusalem with a "Literature and Music" bachelor degree, an aspect that helped him become an Arab music instructor. Simon's dreams weren't just concerned with maintaining his father's path in Arabic music, he had much bigger potentials. Living in Israel was a barrier that prevented him from performing in Arab countries; his only solution was traveling to USA to break the borders' setbacks.    In 1980, Simon Shaheen, the Palestinian immigrant, obtained the American passport and became a US citizen. He lived in New York and completed his studies at the Manhattan School of Music in addition to continuing his music education at Columbia University.   Simon Shaheen, besides performing alone, has created two Arabic music bands: Qantara and Near Eastern Music Ensemble.    Qantara holds an Arabic name whose definition is "arch" in English. It is an Arabic band that plays jazz, Western classical and Latin American music. Members of Qantara band are: percussionists Steve Sheehan and Jamey Haddad, and the guitarist Adam Rogers. Simon Shaheen and Qantara has performed in many concerts and festivals: WOMAD USA, WOMAD Sicily, the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Stern Grove International Festival in San Francisco, Les Mediterranean in France, Royce Hall in Los Angeles; University Musical Society in Ann Arbor; Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, New York's Central Park Summer Stage, and the Chicago World Music Festival  the Beiteddine Festival in Lebanon, the International Souk Ukaz in Amman-Jordan, the Yabous Festival in East Jerusalem,.    Near Eastern Music Ensemble is known for participating in the Arab Music Retreat, an annual festival founded by Simon Shaheen himself. It performs traditional Classical Arabic music in art festivals, music concerts in schools and universities.      Simon Shaheen has released many albums: "The Music of Mohamed Abdel Wahhab" , "Turath",  "Saltanah", "Taqasim", "Blue Flame" … and contributed to many musical works: "Hallucination Engine", "Omar Faruk Tekbilek Ensemble", soundtracks of "The Sheltering Sky"," Malcolm X", " For Everyone Everywhere"…   Simon Shaheen worked with many international personalities in the art field like: the Colombian singer Soraya, the Israeli singer Chava Alberstein, the producer/bassist Bill Laswell, the singer Sting and Cheb Mami, the Indian classical guitarist Viswa Mohan Bhatt, the group Material, the actress Vanessa Redgrave, the Lebanese singer Wadih El Safi and the Syrian singer Sabah Fahkri…      Simon Shaheen plays Arabic music with affectionate feelings and plays to feed the people's souls and fill them with hope. Simon bestows fundraising events like: Palestinian workshop designed for gifted children, "We Are the Future" fundraising concert in Rome, he performed in a fundraising concert in St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in New York for the injustice of the Palestinian actor and director, Mohammad Bakri. Simon Shaheen also performed in “A Concert for Lebanon’s Children” in Boston, funds were raised for the treatment of chronic childhood diseases & The Lebanese Association of SOS Children’s Villages. Simon Shaheen played in a concert for justice for "Adalah NY"…       Simon Shaheen produced "Mahrajan Al Fann', an Annual Arab Festival of Arts held in New York. He also founded the Annual Arabic Music Retreat held in Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts.    In 2009, Simon Shaheen directed the program Aswat-Celebrating the Golden Age of Arab Music, in which he worked with the Arab orchestra and many leading singers from the Arab world.    Simon Shaheen, throughout all his musical life, has taken the mission of raising the Arabic music to the world. He works hard on withdrawing the borders to elevate the significance of his worthy heritage: the Arabic music. Simon Shaheen overwhelms not only Arabic music listeners but also indulges his allure internationally.       

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