Musical Performance: An Evening with The New York Arabic Orchestra Conducted by Bassam Saba

Sat, January 26, 2008 9:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

(View all musical performances »)

The New York Arabic Orchestra

This is New York's first Arabic orchestra, directed by world-renowned ney virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist Bassam Saba, performing music of classical and modern Arabic composers. The New York Arabic Orchestra is a performance ensemble dedicated to becoming one of the nation’s leading orchestral representations of Arabic music. The orchestra is a continuous and growing entity, acquiring new members bi-annually and retaining its existing members. The orchestra is as much about education as it is about performance, as the first establishment in New York to provide ongoing musical training for Arabic Music. The majority of orchestra members are professional musicians trained in Western classical or jazz, who are taught the essential elements, often unwritten, that define Arabic music. Much is demanded of the director of such a program. Bassam Saba is a classically trained conductor, a master of multiple Arabic instruments, and the preeminent teacher of Arabic music in the United States.

The Conductor

Bassam Saba is one of the nation’s leading figures of Arabic music. Saba is a world-renowned ney player and multi-instrumentalist, performing on oud, violin, buzuq, saz and western classical flute. Saba began playing oud, ney and violin at the early age of 5. He, his father and his brothers would form a takht ensemble and play the music of Arabic classical artists such as Mohammed Abd El-Wahab. When he turned 14, Saba went to study ney, oud and violin at the Lebanon National Conservatory. At the age of 17, he moved to Paris where he received his BA in Western Classical music and Flute Performance at the Conservatoire Municipal des Gobelins. In 1979, Saba moved to Russia to study at the Gnessin Musical Pedagogical Institute of Moscow, where he received an MA in Western Flute Performance and Music Education (1985). He returned at the age of 23 to Beirut where he began to work extensively with Fairouz, Ziad Rahbani and Marcel Khalife.
Since moving to the U.S., Bassam Saba has worked with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Simon Shaheen, Marcel Khalife, Paul Simon, Alicia Keys, Sting, Santana, and jazz musicians like Herbie Hancock, Sonny Fortune, Wayne Shorter and Quincy Jones. Saba currently performs his compositions with his own group, the Bassam Saba Ensemble, and performs with Simon Shaheen’s Al-Qantara and Near Eastern Music Ensemble; Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble; and Christian Jarvi’s Absolute Ensemble, premiering a pioneering concerto for ney composed for him by Daniel Schnyder. Saba has toured throughout the Middle East, Europe, North America, South America, Australia, Africa and Japan.
Bassam Saba’s teaching and conducting career is extensive. Saba has been New York's esteemed and most trusted teacher of Arabic music for 15 years, offering private lessons for ney, oud, and Arabic violin. He has conducted the Middle Eastern Orchestra of Harvard; held numerous Arabic music workshops and lectures around New York and the U.S.; and conducts the 70-piece orchestra of Simon Shaheen’s Arabic Music Retreat. Saba has also conducted orchestras for Kazim al-Sahir and Sarah Brightman, and served as music director of the Beirut Symphonic Band. To learn more about Bassam Saba:

The Musicians:

Bassam Saba – Ney, Oud, Violin

Voice: Leila Chaheen
Oud: Hadi El-Debek, Roly Matalon, Brian Prunka
Buzuq: Jeff Greene
Qanun: Anastassia Zachariadou
Ney/Flute: Bridget Robbins
Violin: Heather Paauwe, Megan Weeder
Viola: Dan Muscat
Cello: William Martina, Mike Block
Contrabass: James “Sprocket” Royer
Percussion: April Centrone, Nick Chbat, Sarah Grossman,
David Kuckhermann, Hatshepsut Pakeman-Symister

Last updated: 2008-01-10 11:16:23

Alwan for the Arts

16 Beaver Street, 4th Floor
(between Broad St. and Broadway)
New York, NY 10004
(646) 732-3261

Alwan Auction 2016

Join Our Mailing List:



Classes are currently being scheduled. Please check back soon for updates.



There are currently no upcoming events.


16 Beaver Street
4th Floor
New York, NY 10004
(646) 732 3261
Email Us

Alwan for the Arts is accessible to people with disabilities. Please call 646 732 3261 in advance, or, buzz at the door to arrange a ramp.

© 2020 Alwan for the Arts

Hosting donated by:, the Arabic Encyclopedia