Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Naseer Shamma – the Perfect Ending for the Festival of Arabic Music and Arts 2017

By: Rolla Bahsous

Known as the master of Oud, Dr. Naseer Shamma ended the first annual Festival of Arabic Music and Arts (FAMA) on a high note with his performance, “On the way to Baghdad,” at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga.

Shamma, who received his PhD in music, shared the stage with the Canadian Arabic Orchestra, but also delighted the audience on Sunday night with several solos. Audience members watched in awe as Shamma even played the oud with just one hand at times.

Shamma is known for his compositions for films, plays, and television, but is also known for creating the Arabic Oud house in Cairo, Tunis, and Dubai. He is also world renown for having constructed the Farabi Oud from the 9th Century AD. 

While this isn’t Shamma’s first time performing in Canada, it was an extra special performance for him as he received his PhD degree on stage, between songs. What made it more special for Shamma was the opportunity to play alongside the Canadian Arabic Orchestra.

“Sharing the stage with Canadian musicians is meaningful for me. It’s not easy to do something this important in just a few days, but as professional musicians we did it. I am so happy because this is the first year for the festival, and we had a strong start with a good program, with artists from everywhere. I am so glad that there are a lot of people participating, especially in Canada,” Shamma explained.

“We have very good emotions about Canada. We’ve had a lot of bad situations happening in the past few years, with Iraq and with Syria, but Canada has been supportive and always on the side of humanity, so it’s very important to be here, to play here, and to enjoy with the Canadian people.”
Shamma’s appreciation for the audience was evident as he graciously took the time to greet and take photos with fans following the show.

While the performance was titled “On the way to Baghdad,” Shamma explained that his compositions are influenced by music from all over the Middle East.  

“I always feel that there are a lot of secret stories presented to the people when I’m on stage. When I perform solo, I feel like there are a lot of details from Baghdad, Syria, Tunis, Egypt, everywhere. This is not because I want to touch people from each country, but this is my feeling, I like all music. I like playing traditional music from all over. It brings me joy.”

When asked what message he hopes his music brings, Shamma echoed the sentiments of previous FAMA artists.

“I hope my music brings beauty and peace. Music has both, beauty and peace. I hope my music carries that message. And I hope my music raises people’s spirits.”

For more information about the Canadian Arabic Orchestra, visit www.canadianarabicorchestra.ca/ 


  1. Perfect setting for the Arabic music festival, Congradulations to Shamma for the fantastic performance that left the audience happy. It was epic!

  2. Naseer Shamma has also created an eight-string oud or lute following the manuscript of the 9th-century music theorist Al-Farabi. This new design expanded the musical range of the oud and gave it a distinct tonality.


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