Discover a new world of music with the Canadian Arabic Orchestra

Coming in November, the Arab Performing Arts Festival and the Canadian Arabic Orchestra (CAO) present On the Way to Baghdad featuring oud master and composer Naseer Shamma. The performance consists of a selection of pieces composed by Shamma who will be performing an oud concerto with the orchestra.

The CAO is a Mississauga-based, not-for-profit organization that originally grew from an idea shared by its founders, Lamees Audeh and Wafa Al Zaghal, to combine the styles of western and eastern music. In 2009, Audeh and Al Zaghal were performing as a duo of the piano, a fundamental instrument of classical music well known to the west, and the qanun, highly featured in classical music enjoyed in the east.

The pair continued to work together to create fusion music by combining elements from both regions. From 2009 to 2014, more musicians joined the group, and it evolved from the Canadian Arabic Ensemble to the Canadian Arabic Orchestra in 2014.

Fueled by their passion for Arabic and western classical music, Audeh and Al Zaghal have been building bridges between these two rich worlds by inviting and engaging both Canadian Arab and non-Arab musicians to perform beautiful music for its audience in a new modern style.

The CAO’s featured guest for the upcoming performance, Naseer Shamma, is an Iraqi oud master. In the Arab culture, the oud is considered to be the “king of instruments.” It is a short-necked, pear shaped, wooden stringed instrument and may have either 11 or 13 strings. The oud is considered to be one of the oldest and most central components of the Middle Eastern music tradition.

Shamma began studying oud at the age of 12 in Baghdad and received his diploma from the Baghdad Academy of Music in 1987. He began to teach oud after three years at the academy while continuing his studies. Shamma has composed music for films, plays, and television and created the Arabic Oud House in Cairo, a school dedicated to teaching the oud to students of all ages. Shamma is also considered one of the top five oud masters in the world.

“It is always important for the CAO to not only entertain the audiences but also to educate about classical Arabic music. We do believe that the concert with Naseer along with the rehearsals that will take place before will be an amazing educational experience for all of us at the CAO,” explained Audeh, CAO vice president and music director.

On the Way to Baghdad takes the stage at the Living Art Centre’s Hammerson Hall on Nov. 12 at 6pm.

Tickets are available at or by calling the LAC box office at 905-306-6000.


Photo: The Canadian Arabic Orchestra on stage (source: Canadian Arabic Orchestra)

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