The first Annual Festival of Arabic Music and Arts – a success!

By: Rolla
It’s no surprise
that the first Festival of Arabic Music and Arts (FAMA), the first of its kind
in Ontario, was a huge success.
From October 28th
to November 12th audiences across Toronto, Brampton, and
Mississauga, enjoyed a variety of musical and cultural events. The Canadian ArabicOrchestra, along with Arab and non-Arab performers, and world renowned artists
like Ilham
AL Madfai, Charbel Rouhana,
Naseer Shamma and Faia Younan provided a great inaugural festival.
The Canadian
Arabic Orchestra put together a fantastic lineup of artists, including
political satirist, Bassem Youssef, which was sold out. The Orchestra also
premiered two original shows: Jazzy
and Origins-Indigenous/Arabic.

Jazzy Arabia showcased the fusion of jazz and classical music,
while Origins was the first
collaboration between the Indigenous nations of Canada and the Canadian Arabic
Orchestra. Orchestra poet and singer Hasan Tamim worked with Indigenous artist
Laura Grizzlypaws, and performed songs that highlighted the shared struggles of
the Indigenous nations of Canada and the Indigenous populations of the Levant
(Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan).
The Canadian
Arabic Orchestra was also fortunate to perform alongside master percussionist,
Michel Merhej Baklouk at several of the FAMA performances. The legendary Lebanese
riqq player is known for playing in the orchestras of the iconic Rahbani
Brothers and Fairuz for over half a century. Baklouk’s presence not only
brought authenticity to the festival, but he was genuinely proud of the
Canadian Arabic Orchestra’s work.
 “Having a Festival of Arabic Music and Arts was a very
successful idea thanks to The Canadian Arabic Orchestra. It was a pleasure to
perform with the orchestra. I want to congratulate them for their hard work and
I hope they continue to progress quickly and successfully in reaching their
important goals. God give them success and growth in the world of Arabic music
and art.”
While each show
had its own genre, the themes that held all the unique performances together
were simple, yet important: unity, humanity, and art driving change. When asked
what message they hope their music brings, each artist echoed the idea that music
and art has the power to unite people, especially in the face of political and
social adversity.
The festival
organizers expected around 14,000 audience members over the span of 16 days of
both ticketed and free performances.
The second
annual FAMA is already scheduled for October 26th to November 10th,
Fans of The
Canadian Arabic Orchestra don’t have to wait until next year to enjoy
performances. Their 2018 program is set from January 19th to May 12th,
with performances across Ontario and Montreal.
For more
information about the Canadian Arabic Orchestra, visit


is a not-for-profit organization registered in Mississauga with the prime
objective of promoting multi-cultural dialogue and understanding through the
universal language of music. The mission of the Canadian Arabic Orchestra is
“To Connect, Enrich, and Inspire through Music”; to connect people
from diverse cultures, and reconnect people from Arab origins with their roots.
The organization also aims to enrich by educating people about the vast Arabic
cultural and musical heritage, and to inspire more musical creativity resulting
from exposure to this type of music by both Arab and non-Arab musicians who
wish to contribute to the music scene in Canada by composing and writing new
music. Over the past two seasons, from September to May, the Orchestra has held
more than 30 concerts in Ottawa, Montreal, Kitchener, London, Mississauga,
Toronto, and Oakville performing to an audience of 12,000. The CAO has
performed at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre, the Aga Khan Museum, the
Maureen Forrester Recital Hall in Waterloo, the Algonquin Commons Theatre in
Ottawa, and most recently at the Stratford Summer Music Festival (2016) and
Luminato Festival (2017).

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