Saturday, 4 November 2017

Charbel Rouhana and The Canadian Arabic Orchestra dazzle Toronto audience

By: Rolla Bahsous

The Canadian Arabic Orchestra with Charbel Rouhana
Audience members at the Jane Mallet Theater gave a standing ovation to Lebanese composer, singer, and Arab lute (Oud) master, Charbel Rouhana, and The Canadian Arabic Orchestra last night on the fourth day of the Festival of Arabic Music & Arts (FAMA).

Charbel Rouhana
Charbel Rouhana, who has published seven volumes of his new method in playing the oud, pleased the crowd by performing several fan favorites such as “Rousanna,” “Coffee,” “Visa,” and “Bil Arabi.”
Michel Merhej Baklouk

Last night’s performance was extra special as master percussionist, Michel Merhej Baklouk, accompanied Rouhana and the Orchestra. The legendary Lebanese riqq player (or the “daf,” in Arabic) is known for playing in the orchestras of the iconic Rahbani Brothers and Fairuz for over half a century.

While this isn’t Rouhana’s first time performing in Toronto, it is his first time being accompanied by The Canadian Arabic Orchestra. “Of course this is my first time playing with the Canadian Arabic Orchestra. Not only is it great to work together as musicians, they made me feel like I’m part of their family. We’ve been playing and rehearsing together now for two days before this show. It’s been a joyous environment of laughter and fun,” Rouhana shared before he took the stage.

When asked what message he’d like to give Canadian audiences about Arabic music overall, Rouhana’s eloquent and confident response echoes the overall mission of FAMA. “We should support music and art so that it reaches all of Canada, the United States, and Europe. Art is a way to gather people together, not divide them. Despite what’s happening in the world, especially the Middle East, how each community is divided by political parties and factions, music will always unite people.”

Charbel Rouhana and the Canadian Arabic Orchestra are set to perform again in Montreal on November 5th, 2017.

For more information about FAMA, and to buy tickets to the rest of the amazing performances coming up, visit

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