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Simon Shaheen (Arabic: سيمون شاهين; b. Tarshiha, Upper Galilee, Israel, 1955) is an American oud and violin virtuoso and composer.

At the age of 2, Shaheen moved with his family to Haifa, but spent most of the weekends in Tarshiha, an Israeli Arab town. The Shaheen family is known for its musicality.

Music career

He began playing the oud at 5, and the violin shortly thereafter. He attended Tel Aviv University, earning degrees in Arabic literature and music performance. He later pursued further studies at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1980 he emigrated to the United States to study music at the Manhattan School of Music and Columbia University, eventually becoming a U.S. citizen.

He formed the Near Eastern Music Ensemble, which performs classical Arabic music, and organized annual Arabic music retreats and arts festivals.

Shaheen, a Catholic Arab, lives in New York City, where he leads an Arabic ensemble called Qantara which he formed. Qantara melds jazz, pop, and western classical music with Arabic elements.

In 1994 he received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

In addition to his work in traditional and classical Arabic music, Shaheen has participated in many cross-cultural musical projects, including performing with producer Bill Laswell, Colombian singer Soraya, Henry Threadgill, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, and with Jewish klezmer musicians The Klezmatics.

Select discography

  • 1990 - Music of Waheeb, Mango/Island/PolyGram
  • 1990 - The Music of Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Axiom/Island/PolyGram
  • 1992 - Turath (Heritage), CMP
  • 1993 - Taqasim: Art of Improvisation in Arabic Music
  • 2001 - Blue Flame, Ark 21/Universal

External links



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