What’s Classical Festival @ Harbourfront Centre

The Harbourfront Centre is hosting the “What’s Classical” festival from August 5 – 7th, 2011.  This festival is exciting for us local bellydancers because it will feature Bassam Bishara and Doula (Roula Said and Maryem Tollar).  The best part of this is that this event is FREE! I am personally a HUGE HUGE HUGE fan of both Bassam and Doula (especially Roula).  If you have NEVER seen any of these artists live, you definitely want to rectify that!  Details are below:

Saturday, August 6, 2011
2:00PM – 3:00PM
235 Queens Quay West
Redpath Stage

About Bassam Bishara:  Now & Then: Music from the Middle East featuring Bassam Bishara

Bassam Bishara was born in the village of Rama in Upper Galilee, Israel in 1954. He started his music education at the Robin Conservatory in Haifa, and graduated from the music department of the Hebrew University. Bassam taught Middle Eastern music at the Music Academy in Jerusalem, and has performed internationally as a soloist, blending tradition and innovation, and forging important musical links between the Middle East and the West, from traditional Arab compositions and arrangements to jazz, documentary films, and orchestral scores. Bassam has received several awards: the “Award of Honour” for his achievements in linking traditional Arabic music and the music of the West; the “Jerusalem Encouragement Award” for his contribution to the revival of cultural heritage; the “Israeli Radio Broadcast Award”; and the “Arab Women Association Award” (London, England) for his role in reconstructing classical and traditional Arabic repertoires. He has performed in England, Germany, Sweden, and at several universities in the United States. Bassam moved to Canada in 2001. He teaches Middle Eastern music at York University, and is music director and composer for the Arabesque Dance and Music Academy.

Saturday, August 6, 2011
4:00PM – 5:00PM

235 Queens Quay West
Redpath StageNow & Then:  Music from the Middle East featuring Doula

Doula (Maryem Tollar and Roula Said) performs ancient Arabic music with a new world spirit.  Maryem and Roula will take you on a journey into the heart of the Muwashah tradition, where devotional poetry is set to exquisite melodies and hypnotic rhythms. Doula also performs folk songs that are often performed alongside the Muwashahat. The Muwashahat denotes both a poetic form as well as a vocal genre of classical Arabic music. The Muwashahat tradition dates back to 9th century Andalusia where it enjoyed a long evolutionary period giving birth to new Arabic poetic forms and meters designed to be set to music. A revival of this ancient style occurred in Aleppo, Syria in the 18th and 19th centuries, and Aleppo remains its centre in the Arab East. Doula will be joined by guest percussionists Naghmeh Farahmand and Hamasseh Daneshzad (Sarv Ensemble).

About Naghmeh Farahmand:

Naghmeh Farahmand was born in 1980 in Tehran, Iran. She comes from a musical family and being the daughter of one of the leading Persian percussion masters of Iran, Mahmoud Farahmand. She started playing Tonbak when she was six. While learning the rhythmic patterns of Persian traditional music from her father, she was encouraged to start playing a melodic instrument to gain insight into the melodic aspect of music for better accompaniment. She started playing Santoor under the guidance of Faramarz Payvar and Pashang Kamkar.  Besides learning traditional music, Naghmeh studied Kurdish rhythms on daf with Bijan Kamkar and Masoud Habibi and started to compose pieces for percussion.  She is also skillful in playing other percussion instruments such as dayereh, darbuka, kanjira, cajon and drumset.

Hamasseh Daneshzad was born in Iran and performs Daf (Frame Drum) with the Sarv Ensemble in Toronto.


Roula Said dancing to Maryem Tollar’s song, “Il Hilm” (the Dream). Dark and poignant Arabic lyrics by Ihab Lotayyef:


Bassam in action!! He is an extraordinary oud player, singer and master musician.  I have been a fan for a long time 🙂