Iraqi musician Naseer Shama concert features outstanding oud
CAIRO: A remarkable live oud recital by Iraqi musician Naseer Shama was held at the American University in Cairo (AUC) as part of the two-day Gender and Empire Conference by the Cynthia Nelson Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies.
Shama began with one of his latest compositions, “In Heaven Over There, a mix of contemporary and traditional music. “The Last Departure from Andalusia came next, combining gypsy music with traditional oriental music.
Following was “An Oriental Love Story, a blend of oriental folkloric music, contemporary guitar-like fast beats and traditional music. Shama played the song mostly using his style of playing the oud with only one hand.
The highlight of the night was the song “Baghdad as I Love with its touch of nostalgia. The fast rhythm of the song is an expression of how the Iraqi people are productive, and are just passing through a rough time from which they will emerge strong and that they will never be defeated. This song reinforces Shama’a opinion, “Iraq is not a matter of regime; it’s a people and a civilization, which Dr. Ferial Ghazoul, professor of English and comparative literature, at AUC quoted in her introductory speech about Shama at the concert.
Shama performed two other songs including, “The Stallion’s Dance, which the audience applauded enthusiastically, in addition to singing old Arabic songs.
He closed with a song called “Childhood that starts off with a playful melody and sounds from children’s toys and riffs from songs that immediately take his listener back to that period of his or her life. The fast rhythm of the song suggests how a child welcomes life and new experiences with open arms. At the same time, the simplicity of the song reminds us of childlike innocence and how simply a child embraces life.
When Shama finished his last song, the audience immediately stood up to applaud him for his outstanding performance and ‘bravos’ came from all over the hall. He simply bowed and brushed tears from his face as he headed off the stage.
Shama began playing the oud in his childhood when he received encouragement from his music teacher, and later he went on to study at the Baghdad Institute for Music. Shama chose to teach the oud, in addition to playing it. He taught in Baghdad, Amman, Tunis and Cairo, where he currently lives. He has played in most Arab countries, as well as Europe and the United States.
In his compositions he strives to interconnect all forms of aesthetic expression, with music as a universal mean of communication. Shama’s compositions use a technique of blending contemporary music with traditional music. Through his music, Shama is particularly concerned with relieving people of their pains, especially the vulnerable elements of society, women and children.
Shama wants people to discover that there is a ray of light and alternatives that they should dare to explore.