The oud is not just a musical instrument but in the East it represents a great cultural heritage. It is the father of many instruments in the string family and travelled across continents from its origins in the East, from the Akkadian civilisation (modern-day Iraq) in particular.
This concert will present the legacy of the oud, which reached new parts of the world and still continues to influence musical development today.
At Bait Al Oud in Abu Dhabi, pioneers are building new instruments to further advance the oud family. These instruments are the result of extensive studies over many years to advance knowledge and understanding about the oud and its affiliations.
‘From Assyria to Seville’ is a long and beautiful journey between the tones produced by the old wood of this instrument. It is not only a musical performance, but also a cultural tour between history and the present.
Our ancestors wrote their stories aesthetically, and in music also established a great kingdom of beauty. This kingdom was able to erase the damage of wars and destruction. The music played by oud instruments represents a path of peace between people, and an example of artistic cross-fertilisation.
The crossover with different civilisations brought the oud into contact with different instruments such as the mandolin, guitar and the bouzouki. Today we must remember Zeryab's journey, the originator of the first cultural dialogues on his travels, and what he left with his fingerprints.
This is a not just a musical performance but a story of love and about a life that creates further life, souls that reincarnate. The concert provides food for the soul and nourishment for the mind. The Mural of Life is a love story created by musicians, with the fingers of humanity. It leaves us with messages of peace and love.
1. The Mural of Life
Colours painted in a large mural with the fingers of musicians whose souls converge in their differences, these drawings are worked through their fingers in a meeting of past and present.
2. Amongst the Palm Trees
This piece was written on the road by Naseer, from Babel to Baghdad, where more than 5,000 palm trees gloriously embrace the sky. The palm tree has always been a symbol of Iraq.
3. Solo: From Assyria to Seville
4. Solo: Arabic Heritage
5. The Illuminated Path
This work is dedicated to the late Tunisian filmmaker Ezzeddin Qannoun, who created a new theatrical vision that left imprints on a new generation. This composition takes us on a journey between musical strings and the theatre itself.
6. Solo (Improvised Selection)
7. Andalusia Opens Its Gates
Mr Shamma says: “Andalusia has had a great cultural, artistic and spiritual impact on me personally. Many compositions and books that have [been] born to express Andalusia, have managed to inspire poets, musicians and artists from around the world. Each and every time I visit Andalusia, I feel that I am welcomed with doors wide open.”
8. Solo (Improvised Selection)
“A dance that turned into a culture in Latin America, and we have used it in our [Arabic] songs. Great talents have based their work on its tones. Tango music expresses nostalgia for that beautiful past in its songs, a nostalgia I
wanted to reclaim through the rhythm of tango.”
“A soulful light that is translated by music into melody. This is a resurrection of an inner journey in the deepest depths of man. It is a dialogue between the inner and the light, and the desire to spread a remarkable light in the depths of the soul, horizon and sky, embracing one another.”
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Naseer Shamma is one of the world’s pre-eminent oud players and composers. He has taught music since graduating from the Baghdad Academy of Music in 1987. He has received the title of Ambassador of the East to
the West by the German Ministry of Culture and was awarded the Prize for Artistic Excellence by the Arab Thought
Foundation. He founded Oyoun, an Arabic chamber music group which is now the most prominent Arab band to combine classical and modern music. Oyoun has performed in prestigious venues all over the world.
Shamma created an eight-string oud following a manuscript by ninth-century music theorist Al-Farabi and expanded its musical range. His innovations also include a new method for playing the oud with one hand, a practice initiated by Salim Abdulkarim, so that even children and soldiers injured in the Gulf War could play and enjoy the oud.
Shamma was born in 1963 in
Al Kut, a southern city in Iraq. After receiving a diploma in musical arts he began to specialise in the oud. In addition to performing worldwide, Shamma is the regional director of the Bait Al Oud music schools in Cairo and Abu Dhabi. The Cairo school was founded in 1998 and the Abu Dhabi centre, in 2008. He plays the oud in a manner which combines ancient methods with an original modern approach.
“The first moment I glimpsed the instrument, I felt it in my heart, like I saw my one true love. I felt something – I felt this was my destiny.”
The 2350 BC Orchestra
The 2350 BC Orchestra was founded by virtuoso Naseer Shamma in 2018. It is a professional orchestra consisting mainly of soloists, who perform collective work, each with their own unique skills. Before this initiative, Shamma organised concerts with the Bait Al Oud orchestras and over the years, developed his vision through a technical and artistic lens. Milestone additions through the production of new instruments are debuted through the 2350 BC Orchestra. The extension of the legendary oud family also adds to the orchestra’s unique calibre.
The 2350 BC Orchestra made its debut at the Royal Opera House in Barcelona in autumn 2018, in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Festival. Presenting new instruments on the world stage for the very first time, this concert further highlighted the significance of the year 2350 BC — when the oud instrument is believed to have been invented.
Since 2018, further performances at the historic Ibrahim Palace in Al Ahsa and at the Ithra Theatre in Al Dhahran, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, have taken place. These unprecedented performances debuted the new instruments of the oudlin, oudlo and the oudla.
The 2350 BC Orchestra consists of 60 musicians from several Arab countries, in addition to guest musicians from around the world, such as flamenco guitarist Carlos Piñana and bouzouki master Giorgos Manolakis. The orchestra is characterised by its family spirit and by its leading soloists, all of whom are performers who have studied and graduated from Bait Al Oud Abu Dhabi.