Somar Al Nasser
While in European music history the organ has traditionally been regarded as the “Queen of Instruments,” it is without a doubt the oud that takes the same place in the music of the Arabic world. Few artists today have achieved greater recognition in promoting the instrument than Naseer Shamma, curator of the Arabic Music Days. As a virtuoso performer, educator, and cultural ambassador, he has not only raised the profile and visibility of the oud around the world, but also developed the instrument itself by adding and changing details of its construction. The “Oud Houses” he established in several cities across the Arabic world have become important training centers for the next generation of musicians.
For the 2023 Arabic Music Days, Shamma has invited fellow oud players and ensembles consisting of students and teachers from the Oud Houses in Cairo, Abu Dhabi, and elsewhere. An extensive program of film, literature, and visual art will provide additional perspectives of contemporary Arabic culture on site and online.
Poet Lorca Sbeity will accompany the concert with readings from her work.
Due to travel and visa issues, Sherine Tohamy & The Abu Dhabi Oud House Trio unfortunately had to cancel their performance. Thankfully, the Europe Oud Quartet, consisting of oud players Bacem Yousfi, Somar Al Nasser, and Mohamed Abozekry, as well as Abdallah Abozekry on saz, agreed to step in on short notice. The latter two musicians have already been heard at the Pierre Boulez Saal during the 2022 Arabic Music Days.
Tickets already purchased remain valid.
Trust us: after attending the Arabic Music Days, you’ll be an oud expert. The short-necked lute—known as the “queen of Arabic instruments”—has played a central role in musical life throughout the Arabic-speaking world and beyond for centuries. It sparked the development of a multitude of performance styles and is the ancestor of a number of stringed instruments, including the European lute. It has also found its place in jazz and pop music, a notable example being Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir. During the Arabic Music Days, you will get to know the oud in all its facets, played by some of the world’s leading virtuosos including festival curator Naseer Shamma.
Learn more about the Oud Houses founded by curator Naseer Shamma. These are centers both for training the next generation of oud players and furthering the development of the instrument itself. Short video documentaries that you can watch here introduce a group of Oud House students and graduates, many of which will perform live at the Pierre Boulez Saal. During the Arabic Music Days, luthiers from the Cairo and Abu Dhabi Oud Houses will share insights into the art of making the instruments.
Then you shouldn’t miss experiencing the truly unique atmosphere at the Pierre Boulez Saal during the Arabic Music Days. Captivating musical performances in combination with the hall’s intimate setting create thrilling musical moments that won’t keep you in your seat.
The Arabic Music Days offer a contemporary panorama of Arabic culture: as part of the concert performances, poets Fowziyah AbuKhalid (Saudi Arabia) and Lorca Sbeity (Lebanon) will read from their works, and an on-site exhibition presents sculptures by Emirati visual artist Azza Al Qubaisi. Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji’s 2022 film Hanging Gardens will be available for online streaming exclusively to all festival visitors. Last but not least, our catering partner Casalot once again offers its delicious selection of dishes of Arabic cuisine.
No? Then you should join us for the Arabic Music Days’ final concert on September 17, when Naseer Shamma takes the stage himself together with friends and former students.
Bacem Yousfi has been playing the oud since the age of eleven. His teachers included Walid Nammouchi and Naseer Shamma at the Oud House Cairo, where he taught for two years. With Naseer Shamma he performed in various ensembles in Paris, Cairo, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Tunis, Berlin, and Barcelona, among others. Since 2008 Bacem Yousfi lives in France, where he studied musicology in Lyon and Paris.
Abdallah Abozekry is an Egyptian saz player, music producer, and composer from Cairo. He graduated from the Oud House in his hometown in 2010. Since relocating to Paris in 2015, he has collaborated with artists from various backgrounds, including Sophie Alour and Joce Miennel. In 2018, he formed the Trio Abozekrys together with his brother, oud player Mohamed Abozekry, and French drummer Nicolas Thé. He also performs in the duo project Zamakan with French guitarist Baptiste Ferrandis.
Born in Cairo in 1991, Mohamed Abozekry began playing the oud at the age of 11. After studying with Naseer Shamma at the Arab Oud House in his hometown for four years, he continued his education with Hazem Shaheen and Nehad El Sayed. Moving to France at the age of 18, he studied Musicology, Applied Music for Visual Arts, and Film Scoring at Lyon University. He has written film scores for several projects, including the anthology film 18 Days, which premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, and the short film N’sibi. He has worked with various artists in a broad variety of musical formations, among them the group Heejaz, the “Sufi project” influenced by the traditional and classical music of Egypt, and the Trio Abozekrys with his brother Abdallah Abozekry and Nicolas Thé, who released their album Don’t Replace Me by a Machine in 2018. He currently works on his debut album as a singer / songwriter.
Somar Al Nasser
Born in Homs, Syria, Somar Al Nasser on oud and buzuki at the Conservatory and the Oud House in Cairo. Today he lives in France and performs traditional repertoire as well as jazz.
Lorca Sbeity works as a poet, writer, and journalist. She has published poetry, children’s books, and articles on political and cultural issues in a variety of outlets. Her books of poetry include You Are Mine Now, You Are Free (2004), Nothing but Insomnia (2014), and most recently This Is All Before You. Her children’s book Two Homes Instead of One was named Best Children’s Book at the 2017 Etisalat Awards at the Sharjah Book Fair.