Sami Abu Shumays
Arabic Violinist & Director of Zikrayat
Host: Said & Dari
Aired: Wednesday 6.18.08 - 10:00-11:00 PM EST

Listen to the archived program...

Arabic Violinist Sami Abu Shumays was born in the United States of mixed Palestinian and American descent, but returned to the Arab world to develop a richer connection with his cultural heritage. Originally a composer and scholar of Western Classical music, he began studying Arabic violin with renowned Arabic violinist and oud player Simon Shaheen in New York, where he concurrently pursued graduate studies in composition and ethnomusicology at C.U.N.Y. after receiving his B.A. in Music from Harvard. Seeking a deeper immersion in Arab musical culture, Sami studied in Cairo, Egypt on a Fulbright fellowship, with Dr. Alfred Gamil, and continued his studies in Aleppo, Syria, with Mohammed Qasas, Abdel-Basit Bakkar, and Abdel-Minaim Senkary—experiences that led him to devote himself to Arabic music.

Zikrayat breathes new life into the performance of Arabic music and dance. Featuring vocalists Gaida and Salah Ragab accompanied by a band of acoustic instruments, Zikrayat, under the direction of violinist Sami Abu Shumays, captures the earthy sound of Arabic music; while the dancers, under the direction of Dameshe, focus on authentic Egyptian Raqs Sharqi (what is known as “belly-dance” in the West) and a variety of folkloric styles.

Fresh from performances at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Knitting Factory, and the Alwan Arts Center in New York, Zikrayat is embarking on an exciting season. Presenting an eclectic mix of the dance, classical, and folkloric repertories from the Arab world. This exciting new ensemble from New York City performs rare gems from the Golden Age of Egyptian Cinema, along with original compositions and well-known standards, in engaging stage productions that evoke the atmosphere of classic film from the period of the 1940’s-70’s.

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