Artist Details

Simon Shaheen

Simon Shaheen has established himself as a virtuoso on not one, but two instruments -- the violin and the oud, a Middle Eastern precursor of the lute. In addition to being a master player, he's also a renowned composer of Arabic and Western music and a teacher who has done a great deal to foster Arabic music in the West. Born in 1955 in Tarshiha, Galilee, music surrounded him from the start, as his father Hikmet Shaheen taught and composed Arabic music as well as played the oud. At the age of five, Shaheen began learning the oud, and a year later picked up the violin. "I just picked up on the instruments and they felt like an extension of me," he recalled. "With the oud I watched my father, I grew musically with him. That was the greatest school for me. Not necessarily that he taught me lessons, just living and playing with him." Enrolled at the Conservatory for Western Classical Music, he began what would turn out to be many years of study. He moved on to the Academy of Music in Jerusalem, graduating from there in 1977 at the age of 23.

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