Monday, 25 September 2017

What makes the Festival of Arabic Music & Arts (FAMA) extra special?

The Festival of Arabic Music and Arts 

Audiences in the Greater Toronto Area are in for a treat, as the Canadian Arab Orchestra is preparing for the inaugural Festival of Arabic Music and Arts (FAMA) – the first of its kind in Canada.
The Festival of Arabic Music and Arts (FAMA) will run from October 28th to November 12th and will include a variety of events and live musical performances. Local Arab and non-Arab performers, as well as world renowned artists like Charbel Rouhana, Naseer Shamma and Faia Younan, will perform in various venues across Brampton, Toronto, and Mississauga. Also included are a variety plays and shows, including the highly anticipated visit by satirist Bassem Youssef
What makes this festival, FAMA, extra special? The premiere of two original Canadian Arabic Orchestra productions: Jazzy Arabia and Origins-Indigenous/Arabic.

Jazzy Arabia is just that – jazz meets Arabic music. On October 29th, the Canadian Arabic Orchestra will showcase original combinations and new sounds - a fusion of jazz and classical Arabic music.

Origins is a new and highly anticipated collaboration between the Canadian Arabic Orchestra and poet/singer, Hassan Tamim. This performance on November 9th is a rare opportunity to see the fusion of cultures, combining the sounds of Arabic music with that of the Indigenous nations of Canada. Not only will this performance pay respect to the Indigenous nations of Canada, but through music and dance, Origins will showcase different musical heritages under the common theme of humanity. Several artists, including Indigenous artist LauraGrizzlypaws, will work together to highlight the shared struggles of the Indigenous nations of Canada, drawing similarities to the struggles of the Indigenous populations of the Levant (Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan). 

FAMA audience members interested in these hybrids and new sounds will also enjoy the intersection of jazz and Arabic music in Golan, set to take place on November 4th. This performance will also give the audience a chance to interact with the artists between musical numbers. This interactive concert is as much about the examination of the musical instruments, the experiences of the artists, and the meeting of cultures, as it is about the music itself.

The festival organizers are expecting around 14,000 audience members over the span of 16 days of both ticketed and free performances. Audiences can get a taste of Arabic music starting in mid-September with free pre-festival performances across the GTA. For more information about FAMA, visit

By: Rolla Bahsous

The CAO is a not-for-profit organization registered in Mississauga with the prime objective of promoting multi-cultural dialogue and understanding through the universal language of music. The mission of the Canadian Arabic Orchestra is "To Connect, Enrich, and Inspire Through Music"; to connect people from diverse cultures, and reconnect people from Arab origins with their roots. The organization also aims to enrich by educating people about the vast Arabic cultural and musical heritage, and to inspire more musical creativity resulting from exposure to this type of music by both Arab and non-Arab musicians who wish to contribute to the music scene in Canada by composing and writing new music. Over the past two seasons, from September to May, the Orchestra has held more than 30 concerts in Ottawa, Montreal, Kitchener, London, Mississauga, Toronto, and Oakville performing to an audience of 12,000. The CAO has performed at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre, the Aga Khan Museum, the Maureen Forrester Recital Hall in Waterloo, the Algonquin Commons Theatre in Ottawa, and most recently at the Stratford Summer Music Festival (2016) and Luminato Festival (2017).

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