The WCR Center for the Arts has announced that Grammy nominated musician, Simon Shaheen, will perform on Saturday, April 22, 2023 at 8pm in downtown Reading.
A Palestinian, born in the village of Tarshiha in the Galilee, Shaheen’s childhood was steeped in music. His father, Hikmat Shaheen, was a professor of music and a master oud player.
“Learning to play on the oud from my father was the most powerful influence in my musical life,” Shaheen recalls. He began his studies with his father at the age of five, and a year later commenced studying violin at the Conservatory for Western Classical Music in Jerusalem.
Shaheen continued his music education in the United States receiving master’s degrees from both the Manhattan School of Music and Columbia University. In 1994, Shaheen received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the highest honor for traditional arts in the US.
In addition to his work in traditional and classical Arabic music, Shaheen has participated in many cross-cultural collaborations including performances with Sting, Quincy Jones, Bill Laswell, and The Klezmatics. He is also a Professor at Berklee College of Music.
Today, Shaheen is one of the most significant Arab musicians, performers, and composers of his generation. He dazzles listeners as he deftly leaps from traditional Arab sounds to jazz and Western classical styles. His soaring technique, melodic ingenuity, and unparalleled grace have earned him international acclaim as a virtuoso on the oud and violin. Shaheen explains what we will experience,
“One of the unique qualities of Arabic music, especially when we improvise, is to play the quarter-tones, or microtones — those are the tones that appear in between what Western music perceives as a complete or half-tone. So, these microtones, which may be difficult for the Western ear to recognize, give the music a richness and beauty.”
The WCR is located at 140 North Fifth Street in downtown Reading. Doors open at 7:30pm and parking is available at the Abraham Lincoln parking garage located on the corner of 5th and Washington Street downtown Reading.
Tickets for the Simon Shaheen concert are $35 ($20 for students) and can be purchased at wcrcenter.org or at the door.
Special Thanks to Najla and Nabil Muallem and to the Reading Musical Foundation for making this event possible.