At a merry rally at Mississauga City Hall on Wednesday, July 19, the Canadian Arab Orchestra (CAO) celebrated the end of its successful 2016/2017 performance season and announced a new venture, the inaugural Festival Arab Music and Arts Annual (FAMA).
From October 28 to November 12, the Festival will feature a series of concerts and other live performances across the GTA including Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton, free and paid events with nearly 100 local and worldwide performers. CAO and FAMA aim to promote intercultural dialogue among the tapestry of Canadian society through music and art, and seek to connect expatriate Arabs and non-Arab communities, and to build bridges across heritage. musical of Arab culture. The festival will open on Sunday October 28 with a double program at the renowned Koerner Hall with Sultans of String, three times nominated for a Juno Prize, an instrumental group that combines elements of Spanish flamenco, Arab folk, Cuban rhythms and French gypsy gypsy jazz, opening for special guest Iraqi guitarist, singer and composer Ilham Al Madfai. From buying his first guitar to forming The Twisters, the first Middle Eastern rock band in the 1960s in Baghdad, this maverick Arab musician has traveled the world with his band, bringing Arabic music to a all new generation.The closing night, November 12, will bring another Iraqi artist to the GTA, master oud player Naseer Shamma, who will perform with members of the Canadian Arabic Orchestra in the expansive Hammerson Hall of the Mississauga Living Arts Center. After graduating from the Baghdad Academy of Music, Shamma began teaching oud while composing and performing music for theater, film and television. He created the Arab Oud House in Cairo, the first school entirely dedicated to the teaching of Oud where scholars of all ages come to study. For this appearance at the Festival, Shamma will perform a traditional classical Arabic repertoire.
On November 9, the Aga Khan Museum will host the World Premiere of Origins, an Indigenous and Arabic presentation that includes classical, folk and contemporary music, throat singing and ceremonies, as well as a joint performance of traditional Indigenous chants. accompanied by classical Arabic instruments. . In the spirit of truth and reconciliation, in the interest of embracing Canada’s rich and diverse heritage and in an effort to deepen a sense of belonging among Canadians of Arab descent, Origins is produced and presented in association with the Native Canadian Center in Toronto. , the Arab Community Center of Toronto, the Aga Khan Museum, artist Laura Grizzlypaws and Rumi Canada.
“We are building on two successful seasons to fulfill a dream of establishing a successful annual festival of Arab music, song, culture and art. Our team is very excited to bring in a myriad of artists. , local and international, to Arabic music Amateurs, both Arab and non-Arab to audiences across Ontario Wafa Zaghal, Founder & CEO, Canadian Arabic Orchestra & FAMA
Other festival highlights include Egyptian comedian, producer and cardiothoracic surgeon Bassem Youssef (November 11 @ Bluma Appel Theater, Toronto) host of the satirical TV news show Al-Bernameg (The Show) from 2011 to 2014. Often compared to Jon stewart, who is himself a fan, a documentary film, Tickling Giants, about the rise and fall of Youssef in Egypt was released in 2016.
A young Syrian singer, Faia Younan (November 10 @ Isabel Bader Theater, Toronto) was the first artist from the Middle East to fund her first single. Born in Aleppo, Younan spent her youth in Sweden and went to college in Scotland before moving to Beirut to pursue her dream of becoming a professional singer. Today’s YouTube star, Younan is committed to art with a purpose and shares the beautiful side of his country.
Multi-award-winning Lebanese composer, singer and musician Charbel Rouhana, who has established a new method of playing the oud which is taught at the Lebanese National Music Conservatory and the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, will perform with the ‘Canadian Arab Orchestra (Nov 3 @ Jane Mallet Theater, Toronto). This concert will also be presented as part of the Montreal Arab World Festival (November 5 @ Monument National, Montreal).
In association with the Théâtre français de Toronto, FAMA presents Djihad, a French play by Belgian playwright Ismael Saidi about disillusioned young people who become foreign fighters in Syria (November 5 @ Berkeley Street Theater, Toronto). Dark and comical piece mixing serious messages and mockery, it confronts head-on the misinterpretations of Islam and Muslim society. Jihad, which toured through Belgium and was presented at the Festival du Monde Arabe in Montreal last year, promotes citizenship and a sense of belonging within the Arab community and encourages understanding and acceptance. by Canadians in general.
Other FAMA performances include Jazzy Arabia (October 29) at the Maja Prentice Theater in Mississauga; Badi Etzawaj (October 29) and Golan (November 4) at the Lester B. Pearson Memorial Theater in Brampton; Franco-Syrian musician Waed Bouhassoun (November 1) at Revue Cinema in Toronto; and Reminiscing Damascus, an exhibition of Syrian art curated by Rana Hatmal at the Isabel Bader Theater in Toronto.
Dedicated to connecting audiences to classical Arab music while celebrating the freedom and diversity of Canada’s cultural landscape, the Festival of Arab Music and Arts hopes to deliver global harmony one note at a time!