Simon Shaheen & The Arab Orchestra + Ibrahim Azzam + Sonia M’barek + Khalil Abonula + Rima Khcheich
ASWAT (Voices)

Simon Shaheen & The Arab Orchestra, Ibrahim Azzam, Sonia M’barek, Khalil Abonula, Rima Khcheich

ASWAT (Voices)


On Thursday, March 5, 2009, in Duke University’s Page Auditorium, Duke Performances hosted the world premiere performance of ASWAT (Voices): Celebrating the Golden Age of Arab Music, an evening-length performance created by violin and oud virtuoso Simon Shaheen — a leading guardian of the Arab music tradition. Aswat features a 15-piece Aswat Orchestra of traditional Arabic instruments; stunning vocalists from Palestine, Tunisia, and Lebanon — including vocalists Ibrahim Azzam, Sonia M’barek, Khalil Abonula, and Rima Khcheich; and projected video of Arab musicals long thought to be lost. 

Conductor Simon Shaheen — an “eminently cosmopolitan” artist (The Washington Post) — revisits a golden age in Middle Eastern music and Egyptian cinema, the 1920s to the 1950s, when many of the region’s greatest artists reached unprecedented heights of popularity, success, and achievement. Shaheen was born in Palestine, studied music in Jerusalem and New York, and has created work that NPR calls “staggering” and “full of passion.” Amidst the modern era’s chronic Middle Eastern conflict, ASWAT seeks to expand the world’s perception of this tumultuous region through a celebration of the lengthy Arab artistic tradition that survives to this day.  

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  • Duke Today, Celebrating the Golden Age of Arab Music
  • Duke Today, A Taste of Arab Music with Simon Shaheen
  • CVNC, Simon Shaheen with Aswat Orchestra: An Evening of Authentic Arab Music
  • Arab American News, The golden age of Arab music
  • Michigan Live, Simon Shaheen, Arab Aswat Orchestra and vocalists meld sounds for a joyous concert

Simon Shaheen

Khalil Abonula