Faculty: The 2021 Retreat faculty are master level instructors and performers. Their perspectives bridge worldwide performance, academic scholarship, ground-breaking composition, and dedicated teaching. They are all experienced with teaching in the on-line environment.
Simon Shaheen -Artistic and Executive Director – `Ud and Bowed String Performance, Music Theory, Chamber Music
An acclaimed Arabic music performer, composer and educator, Shaheen tours worldwide as a soloist and with his ensembles, Qantara, and the Near Eastern Music Ensemble. His recordings (The Music of Mohamed Abd al-Wahhab, Turath, Taqasim, Saltanah, The Two Tenors and Qantara, and Blue Flame) have won him an international reputation as a leading Arab musician of his generation. A master instructor in performance and theory, Shaheen is a professor at Berklee College of Music. He conducts residencies and workshops at universities around the world. www.simonshaheen.com
Dr. A.J. Racy – Associate Director, Nay and Buzuq Performance
Dr. Professor Racy is an inspiring teacher, author, renowned composer and gifted performer on several Middle Eastern instruments. A pioneer in conducting Arabic music ensembles in the U.S., he has inspired generations of Western and Arab musicians to study and perform the rich musical traditions of the Middle East. He recently retired from UCLA as a Distinguished Professor of Ethnomusicology. Dr. Racy performs and lectures internationally on Middle Eastern music. His recordings include Taqasim, Jazayer with Ali Jihad Racy, Ancient Egypt, Mystical Legacies, and When the Rivers Meet. His numerous scholarly publications include the award-winning book, Making Music in the Arab World: The Culture and Artistry of Tarab (Cambridge University Press, 2003).
Charbel Rouhana – `Ud Performance, Chamber Music
An accomplished performer on `ud, Charbel earned a BA in performance and an MA in musicology at the Holy Spirit University, Kaslik, Lebanon. He authored a three-volume book on `ud method, and teaches `ud at Kaslik University, In addition to performing around the world, Charbel is a highly regarded composer with several recordings, including his latest CD, Doux Zen. http://www.forwardmusic.net/charbel_rouhana_official_page.html
Rima Khcheich – Vocal Performance, Chamber Music
Rima is an instructor of music and singing at the American University of Beirut and the Lebanese American University. A graduate of the Lebanese American University in Beirut and the National Conservatory of Music where she taught for twelve years, Rima has performed live throughout the Middle East, Europe and the USA specializing in Arabic traditional vocal repertoires. She has toured the U.S. as the featured soloist with Simon Shaheen and his Near Eastern Music Ensemble. Her recording credits include Orient Express, Yalalli, Falak, and Hawa . www.rimakhcheich.com
Najib Shaheen – `Ud Perfomance
Najib began performing `ud with his father Hikmat Shaheen orchestra in Haifa at the age of 12. After moving to the US in 1967, he played `ud with legendary vocalist Hanan in New York, and toured with her in Latin America. Najib has performed hundreds of concerts with Simon Shaheen as a core member of the Near East Music Ensemble and Qantara. He has taught`ud and Arabic Music privately throughout his performing career. In 1985, Najib founded his studio for making & restoring vintage `uds, experimenting in bringing back the authentic classical Arabic sound. Since the founding of the Retreat, Najib has been an `ud instructor and lecturer on `ud maintenance. A talented chef, he is in charge of food at the Retreat and is a key member of the operations team. www.oudman.com.
William Shaheen –`Ud Performance
After learning the `ud from his father Hikmat Shaheen, William studied classical violin at the Rubin Conservatory in Haifa. He gives workshops and performs at Universities in the U.S., and performs with the Near East Music Ensemble. He teaches `ud and violin privately in California.
Layth Sidiq – Violin Performance, Music Theory, Chamber Music
Layth Sidiq is an award-winning violinist, composer and educator who has toured the world and performed with major artists such as Simon Shaheen, Danilo Perez, Javier Limon, Jack Dejohnette, Tigran Hamasyan and others and performed in venues like the London Jazz Festival, Boston Symphony Hall, WOMEX Expo, Montreal Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall and more. Layth was recently named artistic director of the New York Arabic Orchestra. He is featured on multiple award-winning albums and his first record Son of Tigris was premiered at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2016. @laythsidiq
Michael Ibrahim – Nay and `Ud Performance, Chamber Music
Michael Ibrahim is a multi-instrumental performer on Arabic wind instruments such as nay and mizmar, as well as `ud. The founder and artistic director of the Detroit-based National Arab Orchestra, he is a dynamic conductor and a recognized innovator in the Arab music circuit. In addition to performing and conducting, Michael teaches, leads ensembles, and lectures on Arab music, privately and in the classroom, at university and grade school levels. https://www.arabmaestro.com/
Firas Zreik – Qanun Performance
Born in Haifa, Firas is a graduate of Berklee College of Music, with bachelor’s degrees in Performance and Jazz Composition. He has performed and recorded with master musicians such as Simon Shaheen, Bassam Saba, Roger Waters, Shankar Mahadevan, and many more. He has performed in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East in such venues as Boston Symphony Hall, Lincoln Center, the Carthage International Festival in Tunisia, and the Smithsonian Museum. He collaborates with his mother, leading Palestinian singer Amal Murkus, as composer and musical director. He teaches privately and presents workshops on-line. Photo credit: Louise Bichan
Dr. Iman Roushdy Hammady – Arabic Diction for Vocalists
Iman has an extensive knowledge of Arabic Literature and film, and gave lectures and wrote academic articles on the subject. She earned her PhD in Medical Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University. She taught Arabic language, diction, literature and film, and established Arabic Film Festivals and Series at Harvard University, MA, Drexel University and UPenn, PA, Emory University, GA, and the Arabic Music Retreat. In addition, she was the consultant and director of the Arabic Language Program of the School District of Philadelphia. Supported by Federal funding, she established a comprehensive linguistic and cultural program for the district, which included Arabic drama, music and film. Iman is versed in Classical and Modern Standard Arabic, in addition to a number of Arabic dialects and other foreign languages, and performs multi-lingual (simultaneous) translations, film subtitles, and script adaptations. Iman is a native speaker of Arabic, and was born in Cairo/Egypt.
Tareq Rantisi – Percussion Performance
A native of Jerusalem, Tareq is a graduate of Berklee College of Music, with expertise in Middle Eastern, jazz and other world styles. He has performed with Simon Shaheen, Paul Winter, Glen Velez, and Bassam Saba. www.tareqrantisi.com
Karim Nagi – Percussion Performance
Karim Nagi is an Egyptian percussionist and teaching artist based in Chicago. He has authored several instructional videos for Arab percussion rhythms and instruments. He is the producer of 18 annual sessions of the Arab Dance Seminar, and is currently on the Board of Directors of Chamber Music America. He combines his musical performance with public speaking on diversity and cultural advocacy, which can be seen in his latest TEDx Talk “The Tambourine, My Partner in Diplomacy and Disruption”. https://www.karimnagi.com
Kay Hardy Campbell – Administrative Director
Kay has served as the Retreat’s Administrative Director since co-founding the Retreat in 1997. An author, freelance writer, and long-time student of Arabic language and music, Kay has an MBA as well as BA and MA in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies. A former resident of Saudi Arabia, she writes about the Middle East for AramcoWorld Magazine, and researches and writes about the music and folk dance of the Arabian Peninsula. She plays `ud and violin. www.kayhardycampbell.com
Patricia Auch – Retreat Staff
A former elementary school teacher, Patricia’s career in Arabic dance spans thirty years. She has traveled nationally and internationally to study with master teachers and she was a founding member of Cassandra Shore’s acclaimed Jawaahir Dance Company. She currently dances and teaches in Seattle, where she also presents educational programs to students and community groups about Arabic music, dance, and culture. She is a rostered teaching artist with the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture as well as the Washington State Arts Commission. www.zulaika.net