Barcelona, 30th of October, 2018. Naseer Shamma is considered one of the best interpreters of the Arabian lute of all time. On the occasion of the 15th edition of the Abu Dhabi Festival, the Iraqi composer will perform at the Liceu alongside 30 musicians from Beit Al Oud ensemble (House of Oud, a renowned institution of learning and a preserver of tradition) and guest artists Carlos Piana and Giorgos Manolakis. The program they are presenting, From Ashur to Seville, seeks to strengthen the musical ties between the Arab world and Europe, and reflects a style characteristic of Shamma, halfway between traditional formats and his own modern compositions. The concert by the internationally celebrated Iraqi lutist brings to fruition the agreement signed by the Liceu and ADMAF in 2015, one that will continue in the coming seasons through an exchange between institutions and cultures.
‘From Ashur to Seville’ In the late eighth/early ninth century, the court of Harun Al Rashid, the fifth Abbasid Caliph, was a cradle of learning. The great Iraqi musician and composer Ibrahim Al Mawsili, his son Ishaq Al Mawsili and his student Ziryab (one of the great polymaths of the Golden Age of Islam who later served at the Umayyad court of Cordoba) created a 400-strong orchestra of instruments from the oud and string families. Historic records state that the sound of the 400 musicians was incredible.
The oud maestro of the 21st century and UNESCO Artist for Peace, Naseer Shamma, has a dream to follow in the footsteps of Ibrahim Al Mawsili and create a similar orchestra with 400 performers from across the countries of the Middle East. Naseer Shamma’s commitment to the oud, a symbol of global unity through music, is reflected in numerous tours, albums and publications as well as in a tireless devotion to music education. He is recognised, deservedly so, as having enhanced the repertoire of Arabic music with roots extending far beyond the Arab world.
Today, the network of ‘Beit Al Oud’ Arab music academies, which Shamma established in 1999, is contributing to the advancement of music education - enabling an important music cultural heritage to thrive among a new generation. ‘From Ashur to Seville’ is the latest chapter in ongoing journey by Naseer Shamma and the Abu Dhabi Festival to consolidate the historic bonds of music history shared by the Arab world and Europe and fulfill the legacy of the great intellectuals of both continents.
Naseer Shamma The Iraqi composer and oud virtuoso was born in 1963 in the village of Kut on the Tigris River in Iraq. He went to Baghdad to begin studies in oud, following in the footsteps of Jamil and Munir Bachir. In 1987, he received a diploma from The Baghdad Academy of Music. He continued his studies at the Higher Institute of Music in Tunisia (1993–1998), and in 1998 established the first Bait Al Oud (House of Oud) in Cairo. Other branches have followed in Abu Dhabi, Algeria and a second branch in Egypt at Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Alongside a busy touring schedule, Naseer composes for film, theatre and television and frequently collaborates with musicians from across the world. Naseer carefully combines tradition and innovation. His ability to lead the ongoing evolution of the oud through new compositions and performance methods has made him a true master. His eight-string (instead of six) oud, created according to the writings of the ninth-century music theorist Al Farabi, expands the instrument’s range and gives it a distinct tonality.
ADMAF Founded in 1996, ADMAF is one of the oldest, not-for-profit cultural organisations in the Arabian Gulf. Pioneering new artistic practices, it seeks to deepen global cross-cultural dialogue and inspire a renewed interest in the creativity of the UAE and Arab world. Often in partnership with leading national and international institutions, it delivers multidisciplinary initiatives for people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities through the Abu Dhabi Festival, year-round youth platforms and community programmes. For more information, please visit www.admaf.org
About Abu Dhabi Festival Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Tolerance
Founded in 2004, the Abu Dhabi Festival was held initially under the patronage of the then Minister of Information and Culture (and now Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation) H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. This was followed from 2007 to 2011 with the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Today, the Festival is held under the patronage of H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Tolerance.
The Abu Dhabi Festival is now acknowledged to be among the world’s best, successfully positioning Abu Dhabi as a cultural destination and the region’s leading celebration of creativity and the arts. Reflecting the vision of the UAE capital as an international cultural crossroads, the Abu Dhabi Festival is rooted in the principles of the country’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahayan: tolerance, respect and enlightenment. As a thriving metropolis that places art, education and culture to the fore, the Festival plays an intrinsic role by further expanding the boundaries of creativity and innovation through the arts. Through its Headline Programme as well as youth platforms and community initiatives, it permeates the farthest reaches of the UAE, engaging children, young people and adults while providing memorable and meaningful experiences that unite visitors, residents and citizens alike.
Strengthened by a growing network of 30 international partners, each year, the Festival brings audiences together to enjoy unique experiences that testify to our common humanity and the deep bonds we share. Always growing, always innovating, it brings the best of the world to Abu Dhabi and takes the very best of Abu Dhabi to the world.
Source: Gran Teatre del Liceu