16 January, 2014
The first ever Sharjah World Music Festival kicked off with a glittering opening night on Wednesday 15 January at the Masrah Al Qasba – Theatre, Hosted by Al Qasba, Sharjah's leading leisure destination and organised in collaboration with Furat Qaddouri Music Centre, the four-day festival features an elite group of award-winning musicians from around the globe.
Present at the opening ceremony were Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Centre and Sharjah Media Corporation and Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq). The opening night was further attended by HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), Enas Abdel Dayem, Head of Cairo Opera House and a number of renowned figures from the art and culture communities, as well as media representatives.
Renowned Iraqi musician and one of the world's top Oud players Naseer Shamma gave the first concert of the musical extravaganza. The large multicultural audience were delighted by a range of music compositions performed by Shamma who played his most beautiful musical pieces on Oud, combining a selection of Andalusian poetry (Muwashahat) and Persian Maqam, in which he reflected his special relationship with the Oud, the only companion in his travels across the world.
Naseer Shamma was accompanied by his band: Mustafa Hussain (Drums), Mohammed Sikka (Bass Guitar), Hani Al Badri (flute), Amr Salah (Piano) and Saeed Kamal (cello), alongside the Pakistani Sitar maestro Ashraf Sharif Khan, and the audience received the performance with loud applause.
Speaking about the event, Sultan Shattaf, Al Qasba Manager, said, "The Sharjah World Music Festival is a new addition to the extensive calendar of cultural and art events hosted by Al Qasba and holding it for the first time offers an opportunity for music lovers and fans to visit this premier leisure and family destination to familiarise themselves with its landmarks and facilities, while watching shows and live performances brought to them by a selected group of the world’s top musicians."
He clarified that the festival is being supported by Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Shurooq and comes as an implementation of her directives to develop the Emirate in all aspects.
“Al Qasba has been organising a range of events designed to entertain its visitors that contribute to enhancing tourism in the Emirate, for many years,” he added.
Furat Qaddouri, founder of Furat Qaddouri Music Centre, said, “The Sharjah World Music Festival is a gathering of prominent and talented musicians who are masters of a range of various musical instruments, some of whom are visiting Sharjah for the first time. The festival is a wonderful opportunity to introduce the audience to the cultural diversity in the local community. We also want the audience to enjoy musical pieces brought to them by international artists with various cultural backgrounds and from different schools of music.”
In a masterful exhibition of talent embracing intellect, Naseer Shamma, who has achieved a universal recognition for playing the Oud (an original eastern instrument), expertly entertained a captive audience who enjoyed a truly unique and memorable performance as Shamma played numerous tunes on the Oud, taking everyone present on an unforgettable journey of music, from old neighbourhoods in the Levant to the alleys of Marrakech, and from Andalusian palaces to old cafes in Baghdad. Playing numerous compositions on his Oud, Shamma managed to go beyond all geographical boundaries, allowing the audience to enjoy a wonderful experience like no other.
The opening night of the festival continued with another live performance as Pakistani Sitar maestro Ashraf Sharif Khan managed to break geographical barriers and leave a lasting impression on the audience who enjoyed Khan's universal music played on the Sitar. Khan inherited his love for the Sitar from his father – the legendary musical genius Ustad Sharif Khan Poonchwala. Khan’s performance had the audience enthralled as they enjoyed a beautiful evening accented with Khan's stunning musical pieces and compositions.
Naseer Shamma expressed his heartfelt appreciation for the organisation of this music festival in Sharjah, saying that the participation of high profile international artists was further enriching the cultural experience of Sharjah, which is already recognised for organising a multitude of other creative events such as plays, book fairs, calligraphy and art exhibitions, all of which serve to enhance Sharjah’s cultural leadership in the region.
Not far from Masrah Al Qasb-Theatre, which hosted live performances by Naseer Shamma and Ashraf Sharif Khan, the two outdoor stages in Al Qasba hosted two separate performances, the first of which was presented by Furat Qaddouri Music Center. The second was a solo performance by Colombian Alex El Cantante. The daily free performances are staged on the two outdoor stages from 6-7 pm in Block C, and from 8-9 pm in Block D.
The audience also enjoyed the Bazaar where they have the chance to treat themselves to a little something from the large collection of traditional clothing and goods, inspired by traditional cultures from around the world. The Bazaar also features an extensive range of fashion jewellery, traditional costumes and accessories and is open daily from 4pm to midnight.
The list of renowned musicians participating in the festival, which will run through until 18th of January, includes Lebanese artist Jahida Wehbe, Iraqi qanoun player Furat Qaddori, flamenco guitarist Vicente Allende from Chile, Jordanian singer Macadi Nahhas, Syrian singer Amir Adam and Japanese violinist and pianist Haruka Horii, as well as the European Fusion Band and the Belgium Jazz Band.