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World Music Virtuoso Simon Shaheen to Speak and Perform at Arab Detroit Diversity Workshop

posted on: Nov 18, 2009

Simon Shaheen, one of the most significant Arab musicians, performers, and composers of his generation. will speak and perform on Thursday, December 3rd at the “Images and Perceptions of Arab Americans–Arab America: Bridging the Gap” diversity workshop.

Shaheen’s soaring technique, melodic ingenuity, and unparalleled grace have earned him international acclaim as a virtuoso on the ‘oud and violin.

His work incorporates and reflects a legacy of Arabic music, while it forges ahead to new frontiers, embracing many different styles in the process. This unique contribution to the world of arts was recognized in 1994 when Shaheen was honored with the prestigious National Heritage Award at the White House.

A Palestinian, born in the village of Tarshiha in the Galilee, Shaheen’s childhood was steeped in music. His father, Hikmat Shaheen, was a professor of music and a master ‘oud player. “Learning to play on the ‘oud from my father was the most powerful influence in my musical life,” Shaheen recalls. He began playing on the ‘oud at the age of five, and a year later studying violin at the Conservatory for Western Classical Music in Jerusalem. After graduating from the Academy of Music in Jerusalem in 1978, Shaheen was appointed its instructor of Arab music, performance, and theory. Two years later he moved to New York City to complete his graduate studies in performance at the Manhattan School of Music, and later in performance and music education at Columbia University.

In 1982, Shaheen formed the Near Eastern Music Ensemble in New York, establishing a group that would perform the highest standard of traditional Arab music. This time also marked the beginning of Shaheen’s workshops and lecture/demonstrations in schools, colleges, and universities to educate the younger generation.

Shaheen will be joined by former Ambassador to the Arab League and permanent observer to the U.N. Dr. Clovis Maksoud and Nawar Shora, Esq., Legal Director of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Washington, D.C.

The theme for this years seventh annual workshop is, “Arab America: Bridging the Gap.” For generations, Arab Americans have immigrated to the U.S., with each new wave contributing to the American mosaic. Religiously and ethnically diverse, Arab Americans are often misunderstood due to the rising tensions in the Middle East and as a result of discrimination and stereotyping. This educational workshop will help participants to understand Arab Americans–leading them to realize that diversity and the Arab American community are one of America’s greatest assets.

For more information and to register:

Who Should Attend? Members of the print and broadcast media, business leaders, human resource directors, diversity program managers, advertising, marketing and communications professionals, educators, municipal and government employees, law enforcement personnel, community leaders and those interested in learning more about Arab Americans.