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Susquehanna Life

Arabic-Infused World Music at Campus Theatre

Nov 06, 2014 11:23AM ● By Erica Shames

Simon Shaheen Ensemble will present Arabic-infused world music on Wednesday, Nov. 19, at 7:30 p.m. at the Campus Theatre as part of Bucknell University's Weis Center Series. The Campus Theatre is located at 413 Market St. in Lewisburg.

Considered one of the most significant Arab musicians, performers and composers of his generation, Shaheen leaps from traditional Arabic sounds to jazz and Western classical styles. His work incorporates a legacy of Arabic music and embraces many different styles in the process, earning him the prestigious National Heritage Award at the White House in 1994.

In the 1990s he released four albums of his own while also contributing cuts to producer Bill Laswell's fusion collective, Hallucination Engine (Island). He has contributed selections to soundtracks for The Sheltering Sky and Malcolm X, among others, and composed the entire soundtrack for the United Nations-sponsored documentary, For Everyone Everywhere. In his album Blue Flame (ARK21, 2001), he leads his group, Qantara, on a journey through the world of fusion music to discover the heart of the Middle East. The album has been nominated for 11 Grammy Awards.

A Palestinian born in Tarshiha in the Galilee, Shaheen spent his childhood steeped in music. His father, Hikmat Shaheen, was a professor of music and a master oud player. Shaheen began playing on the oud at the age of 5, and a year later studied violin at the Conservatory for Western Classical Music in Jerusalem.

After graduating from the Academy of Music in Jerusalem, Shaheen was appointed its instructor of Arab music, performance and theory before moving to New York City to complete graduate studies at the Manhattan School of Music and Columbia University.

In 1982, Shaheen formed the Near Eastern Music Ensemble in New York and began offering workshops and lecture/demonstrations in schools; he still devotes almost 50 percent of his time to working with schools including Juilliard, Columbia, Princeton, Brown, Harvard, Yale, University of California in San Diego, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and many others.

His concert credits include Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Cairo's Opera House, Theatre de la Ville in Beirut, and Belgium's Le Palais des Arts. In 2004, he appeared at Quincy Jones' "We Are The Future," fundraising concert in Rome in front of an audience of half a million people.

His theatrical repertoire includes Majnun Layla, (with performances at the Kennedy Center and The Museum of Natural History), The Book and the Stranger (from Kalilah Wa-Dimanah), Possible City and Collateral Damage with actress Vanessa Redgrave. He has written the music for the documentary of the British Museum's Egyptian collection, which toured U.S. museums.

Since 1994, Shaheen has produced the Annual Arab Festival of Arts, "Mahrajan al-Fan" in New York. In 1997, he founded the Arabic Music Retreat, a weeklong intensive program of Arabic music studies held each summer at Mount Holyoke College.

General Admission tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors 62+, $5 for youth 18 and under, $5 for Bucknell employees and retirees (limit 2), $5 for non-Bucknell students and free for Bucknell Students.

Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling the Campus Box Office at 570-577-1000.

Tickets are also available in person from several locations including the Weis Center lobby weekdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the CAP Center Box Office, located on the ground floor of the Elaine Langone Center, weekdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information about this performance, contact Lisa Leighton, marketing and outreach director, at 570-577-3727 or by email at

The next event in the Weis Center's 2014-15 Series is a Celtic holiday performance by Lúnasa with special guest Karan Casey on Thursday, Dec. 4, at 7:30 p.m. at the Weis Center. Lúnasa's members have helped form the backbone of some of the greatest Irish groups of the decade. Karan Casey has been critically acclaimed from Japan to America as one of Ireland's greatest singers. The Wall Street Journal has described her as one of the true glories of Irish music today. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors 62+, $15 for youth 18 and under, $15 for Bucknell employees and retirees (limit 2), $15 for non-Bucknell students and $10 for Bucknell Students.

For more information about the Weis Center for the Performing Arts, go to or

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