On Thursday, September 29, I attended the concert "Reflecting the Middle East" at the Forbes Theatre for Performing Arts. The performance was part of the international week here at James Madison University and it gave me my first taste of Arabic and Muslim traditional music. The main performer of the night was Simon Shaheen, a Palestinian born in the village of Tarshiha, who has mastered the techniques and unparalleled sounds of both the oud and the violin. I had never even heard of this Arabic instrument called the oud before I heard its varying tunes tonight. The oud is an instrument that looks similar to a guitar but is shorter and has 11 strings. Simon Shaheen graduated from the Academy of Music in Jerusalem and has been honored with the National Heritage Award at the White House.
One specific part of the concert that I really enjoyed and found to be especially effective was the collaboration of Simon Shaheen and the other members of the band. The other band members played instruments like the piano, the double bass, the flute, the saxophone, the trumpet, and the bongos while Simon switched between the oud and the violin. Mr. Shaheen played one solo piece and then the band entered the scene and they played 2 separate pieces together. The first piece had a very fast tempo and gradually got louder. In musical terms, you could describe the act as Allegro and Crescendo, which are Italian for fast and gradually getting louder. He also explained, the tempo was counted ten beats every measure that is why it was so fast.