7 minutes with...Oud teacher Sherine Tohamy
All over the world today, people will be celebrating ‘Fete de la Musique’ - also known as World Music Day.
The musical celebration originated in France back in 1976 to mark the summer solstice and this year The Alliance Francaise Abu Dhabi is hosting its Fete de la Musique at the Souk Qaryat Al Beri.
Solo musicians and bands playing tunes from an array of traditional and modern genres will make for a top afternoon and evening of entertainment.
We caught up with Bait El Oud music school teacher Sherine Tohamy to find out more about the performance her school’s students will give at the Fete.
What are you going to be doing on the day?
I’m a teacher, so I won’t be playing. I will be presenting the work of the students. We have one boy aged 11 - Kariem from Egypt - and two girls aged 15 - Sham and Razam from Syria - who will be playing oud together. Also, we have Omniya, a Tunisian eight-year-old, who will be playing the oud solo.
What tunes will the pupils be playing?
They’ll be playing some traditional songs from Iraq and Egypt. Two of them, Hilal saba (The Morning Crescent) and Taheya (greeting), are from Naseer Shama, the legendary Iraqi performer who played here at the Abu Dhabi Festival this year. Coincidentally, he was also my teacher. They’ll also be playing Beid Annak (Far Away From You) by Baligh Hamdi and Nassam Alaina Alhawa (A breeze upon us), by Rahbaney.
Why do you teach the oud to youngsters?
It’s a very famous instrument in the Arabic world. It’s a historical instrument. Its origins are thousands of years old and it is a very important instrument. The Arabs transferred it to Andalus and Spain, where it had an influence on the lute and also the guitar.
It’s important for everyone to hear the songs and for the children to play them in public too. We are the only oriental instrument show in the concert so that is very important for us to be involved and to play. We need to show our skills and let everyone know how nice the instrument sounds.
The oud is an unusual sound to many. Can it work with other instruments?
Of course. Earlier this year, with these students, we enjoyed a brilliant workshop with the players from Carnegie Hall, (the Ensemble ACJW) from New York at the ADMAF’s Abu Dhabi Festival. Playing together with the violin, piano and everything else was a very interesting experience. We played some solo songs for them and some Arabic and oriental music along with their players on cello and contrabass.
Did it all gel together?
It was a very beautiful sound and a great experience for both sides. In fact, Carnegie Hall were very excited about this and they want to work on something similar again - this time in New York! I will go and hopefully play with them in New York and Canada - no dates yet but they are looking to put it together.
So aside from teaching, you still like to
Of course. I love to play traditional music on the oud. I also love to write songs and play my own songs too. As well as the traditional music, we have a new experience where we play classical music on the oud, not in this performance, but we can play, for example, Beethoven on the oud. It is a little bit different because it is not written for the oriental music, but it translates.