Musical Performance: Master Vocalist YOUSSEF KASSAB, featuring Zikrayat and special guest Salma Habib

Sat, October 23, 2010 9:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

(View all musical performances »)

Alwan for the Arts presents:

Musical Performance: Master Vocalist Youssef Kassab, featuring




Sami Abu Shumays, Violin
Tareq Abboushi,
Bridget Robbins,
Johnny Farraj,
Mariam Bazeed,
Adam Echawadi,

and special guest: Vocalist SALMA HABIB

Returning to Alwan after a two-year absence, esteemed vocal master Youssef Kassab, accompanied by Zikrayat, will again delight our audience with decades of artistic excellence in the vast repertoire of the lyric Tarab (classical Arab) tradition.

Tickets: $20 available at the door or online here. (A surcharge applies; use printout as your ticket)

$15 for students (with valid I.D.) and seniors available at the door only.

Doors open at 8:30 p.m.



Listen to Youssef Kassab sing Ahu Da Li Sar اه دا اللي صار

Originally from Damascus, Syria, Youssef Kassab began learning the oud and studying voice with his uncle at an early age. He continued his studies at the Damascus Conservatory, specializing in qanun (zither) and classical Arabic music vocal repertoire. There he recorded and performed with the Syrian Radio Orchestra as a vocalist.

In 1970 he moved to New York, and in 1982 joined the Near Eastern Music Ensemble as principal vocalist, where he began 40 years of performance in concerts and festivals throughout the United States and Central America. Youssef Kassab is one of the master performers of classical forms such as the Arabic Muwashshahat (classical Arabic/Andalusian vocal music), Al-Qudud Al-Halabiyya (traditional vocal repertoire from Aleppo, Syria), and 19th and early 20th century Egyptian vocal music.

Musician Bios

Salma Habib, a multi-talented singer, dancer, actress and television host, is emerging as one of the most prominent Arab female vocalists in the United States. Her professional career as an artist began at the age of seven as a leading dancer in the “Salma Dancing Group” in Haifa, established in 1979, and she soon moved on to work in television, radio and the theatre. Since coming to the U.S., she has performed as a singer with such artists as Simon Shaheen and Bassam Saba, as well as Zikrayat, and she hosts a television show for Arab-Americans on ART America entitled “Min America.”

ZIKRAYAT, led by violinist, composer and vocalist Sami Abu Shumays, and dancer Dameshe Shumays, featuring vocalists Salma Habib and Salah Rajab and a talented lineup of acoustic instrumentalists and Egyptian-style dancers, is a New York City-based Arabic music and dance group unique in presenting the classical and dance repertories of the Arab World side-by-side. Zikrayat places a special emphasis on repertory from the "Golden Age" of Egyptian cinema, especially from the 1940's 50's and 60's, and has developed a multi-media show featuring film clips from the period synchronized with live music and dance performances.

Sami Abu Shumays was born in the United States of mixed Palestinian and American descent. Originally a composer and scholar of Western Classical music, he began studying Arab violin with renowned musician Simon Shaheen in New York, where he concurrently pursued graduate studies in composition and ethnomusicology at C.U.N.Y. after earning a B.A. in Music from Harvard. Seeking a deeper immersion in Arab musical culture and to develop a richer connection with his cultural heritage, he returned to the Arab world on a Fulbright Fellowship where he studied in Cairo with Dr. Alfred Gamil, and continued his studies in Aleppo, Syria, with Mohammed Qasas, Abdel-Basit Bakkar, and Abdel-Minaim Senkary–experiences that led him to devote himself to Arabic music. In 2005, along with his wife Robin Dameshe Shumays, he founded Zikrayat, a unique ensemble focusing on the music and dance traditions of the Arab world, with a special emphasis on the repertory of the Golden Age of Egypt.

Tareq Abboushi
is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and bandleader. Born and raised in Ramallah, Palestine, he graduated with honors from William Paterson University in New Jersey with a degree in Jazz Piano. He has played buzuq since 1997, and has performed with such notable musicians as Simon Shaheen, Omar Farouk Tekbilek, and Dan Zanes. His film work includes the award-winning Encounter Point (Best Musical Score, Bend Film Festival, 2006), as well as two films by Jonathan Demme: Jimmy Carter: Man From Plains and Rachel Getting Married. He has lectured and performed at Columbia University, NYU, Juilliard, Museum of the City of NY, the Children’s Museums of Brooklyn and Manhattan, and Alwan for the Arts, and last year taught Arab music at Agder University in Norway. His discography includes One with his band SHUSMO, Amir ElSaffar's Two Rivers and Dan Zanes’s Parades and Panoramas, House Party and Night Time!, winner of’s Best Children's CD (2002). Current projects include a new recording, Mumtastic, with SHUSMO.

Bridget Robbins performs widely in the New York area and across the country. A sought-after specialist of the nay (Middle Eastern reed flute) she has played with many leading ensembles including Simon Shaheen's Near Eastern Music Ensemble, The New York Arabic Orchestra, and the Near East River Ensemble as well as Zikrayat. She earned a B.A. in Flute Performance from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1994, and her MA in Ethnomusicology in 1997, her thesis focusing on the music of the great Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum. From 2003-2005 she taught flute and nay in Bethlehem at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Palestine, and for the last decade has been a faculty member of the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music's Music Partners Program.

Johnny Farraj studied the riq (Egyptian tambourine) and frame drum with Karim Nagi and Fairuz's percussionist Michel Merhej. He also studied the oud with Simon Shaheen and Bassam Saba, and classical Arabic singing with Rima Khcheich and Youssef Kassab. As a percussionist, he has performed with Simon Shaheen/Qantrara (Symphony Space) and Amir El-Saffar, and recorded on the soundtrack of the play "9 Parts of Desire" by Heather Raffo. Johnny has performed and given lecture demonstrations in universities and museums throughout the US and Canada, and has taken part in several fusion collaborations involving classical Indian, Persian and Jazz. Johnny annually attends the Arabic Music Retreat, and has created the web site to teach classical Arabic music (maqam) theory.

Last updated: 2010-10-19 01:20:47

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