Yasmina Ramzy Arts Musicians

Bassam
Bassam Bishara
Suleiman
Suleiman Warwar
Walid
Walid Najjar
Walid Najjar

Walid Najjar — Keyboard

Walid Najjar began his musical path 18 years ago in elementary school, when he first picked up the drums to perform for a local television show with his classmates and school. From there, his musical interests quickly grew to include a wide variety of percussion instruments, as well as singing and voice work to accompany his playing. Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1978, and living in the United Arab Emirates until the age of 17, Walid moved on to the guitar and keyboards after immigrating to Canada 11 years ago. From a self-taught keyboardist, to a first time keyboard-playing performer in 1997, to now the leader of his own professional band, Walid can be seen, and heard, performing with Arabesque Dance Company, and at weddings and parties across North America. His musical ambitions, and eagerness to learn more about the musical arts, have currently led him to re-enter music school with the famed Professor, Bassam Bishara, to study the violin.

Eddy
Eddy Sulaiman
Eddy Sulaiman

Eddy Sulaiman — Violin

Born in 1985 in Baghdad, Eddy was drawn to music from an early age. He started to play the keyboard before settling on his instrument on choice, the violin, in 1995. He studied the violin at the Edward Sa'ed National Conservatory of Music in Ramallah city and played both Western and Arabic classical music with numerous groups including Maqamat, Edward Sa'ed and Daniel Barenboim Orchestra, Sanabel and Yallalan, performing in Ramallah, Jerusalem and Bethlehem. He attended many workshops, musical summer camps including workshops with renowned musician Simon Shaheen in Talita Qumi. In 2005 he instructed at the Kufiyeh Music School in Birzeit, teaching violin skills and techniques. Eddy joined the Arabesque Dance Company Orchestra in 2006.

Mohanned
Mohanned Maotassem
Mohanned Maotassem

Mohanned Maotassem — Qatim

Born in 1985, in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. Mohannad has always loved music since he was a kid. He was the lead percussionist for his schools band and participated at every event. Mohannad also plays the keyboard, the Qatime andseveral other percussion instruments. He is also a Middle Eastern DJ working for the leading DJ Company in the industry in Toronto. His love for music allowed him to create the first Arabic online radio station. This gave him the opportunity to work with several artists and musicians during their tours in Canada, including: Assi il Hilani, Melhim Zein, Fares Karam and Carole Smaha. Mohannad has always desired to be a musician and to work with other talented musicians from around the world.

Milad
Milad Daher
Milad Daher

Milad Daher — Lead Percussionist

Milad Daher was born in 1987 in Bierut, Lebanon. Milads father was a musician who played with well-known performers such as Nadia Jamal, Fairuz, Geroge Wassouf, and Sabah. Watching his father and travelling with him to performances gave Milad the confidence and motivation to pursue a career in music. He started playing the tablah (dumbek) at the age of 5. At the age of ten he played with Samira Toufik, Diana Haddad, and Ala Zalzali. Milad began to play music professionally at the age of 13. He plays many Arabic instruments including the dumbek, katim, daff, and daholla. In 1999 Milad immigrated to Canada where he expanded his repertoire to include a variety of world musical styles.

Mohammed
Mohammed El Sroujiy
Mohammed El Sroujiy

Mohammed El Sroujiy — Qatim

Mohammed Srouji was born September 17th, 1984 in Beirut, Lebanon. His passion and desire to learn Arabic music started at a young age, and he found out quite quickly his favorite part of the music was the percussion. Growing up Mohammed wanted to learn Arabic music on a professional level and after immigrating to Canada he was able to fulfill this lifelong dream. He took classes with leaders in the field and this gave him the courage to perform in front of audiences. Some of Mohammeda's achievements including drumming festivals, television appearances and taking part in tours of some of the biggest names from the Middle Eastern entertainment world such as Melhem Zein, Rabee Al-Asmar, Abdo Yagee, and Carole Smaha. Mohammed has and will continue to have the passion and desire to learn, perform and share Middle Eastern music with audiences.

Nancy
Nancy Jibbe
Nancy Jibbe

Nancy Jibbe— Vocals

Nancy Jibbe was born on September 16, 1986 in Beirut, Lebanon. She began her musical journey from the age of 12 singing in choirs, until she became a lead singer in a blues band in her hometown. In 2006, Nancy moved to Canada to pursue her education during which she joined the World Music Ensemble at the University of Calgary and was featured as one of their key singers. She explored her singing talents and found herself not only singing in English but in Arabic, Hindi, Portuguese, Spanish, and French as well. Recently, Nancy has joined Arabesque and has found it to be: a marvelous opportunity. I'm amazed by the talent in this group and how inspirational the harmony of their music and dance is.

Pedro
Pedro Bonatto
Pedro Bonatto

Pedro Bonatto — Daholla

Pedro Bonatto was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 1979. He first studied piano but quickly decided his main interest was in world music. He was first introduced to Arabic music by Brazil-based Lebanese singer Shaker Akiki and fell in love with its complex and deeply human rhythms and melodies. Pedro moved to Toronto in 2009 and has been learning dumbek with Suleiman Warwar since 2010. He sees his passion for percussion as a life-long project in self-exploration and bringing cultures together.

James
James Freeman
James Freeman

James Freeman — Riqq, Trumpet

Born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan, James Freeman received his first drum set for his third birthday. At the age of 7 he began to study trumpet and played both trumpet and drums in concert, jazz and marching bands. James continued his musical studies at Montreal's McGill University, completing both a Bachelor'ss and Master's Degree in Music. Since discovering a passion for Arabic music, he has studied with Dr Ali Jihad Racy, Simon Shaheen, Bassam Bishara, Suleiman Warwar and legendary Fairuz percussionist Michel Merhej. On the trumpet James has performed with ensembles such as the Toronto Symphony, Hamilton Philharmonic, Opera Ontario, I Musici de Montreal, Washington Bach Consort, Tapestry New Opera, and performed on the Ontario leg of Diana Krall's Quiet Nights tour. He has been a featured soloist with the National Academy Orchestra and the Scarborough Philharmonic. In addition to performing Arabic music with the Arabesque Orchestra he has recently performed with the New York Arabic Orchestra featuring Marcel Khalife. James is currently on faculty at the Kingsway Conservatory of Music teaching trumpet, drum set and hand percussion.

Salah
Salah Allaham
Salah Allaham

Salah Allaham — Reeds, Dumbek

Salah Allaham was born in Edmonton, Alberta on July 5th, 1980. At the age of two he moved to Lebanon only to get caught in the middle of the civil war. Growing up during the war, he spent most of his time listening to the classics as it was usually unsafe to play outside. He grew a strong interest in the procussion instruments and would constantly drum against anything within his reach. In 1998, he returned to Canada and settled in Toronto. As a young bachelor he decided to seriously entertain his passion for music and bought a dumbek. Essentially he is self taught, however in 2007-2008 he did take classes at Arabesque which allowed him to perfect his skills. Salah's great leadership skills and excellent work ethic was noticed by the creator of the Stars on Board Cruise who appointed him the Director of Operations on the October cruise where he was in charge of the evening shows for the great artists Milhim Zein, Wael Kfoury, Carol Smaha, Alyssa and many more.Salah's other interests include fitness and health, cooking, traveling and spending time with his family.

Sonia
Sonia Meskini
Sonia Meskini

Sonia Meskini — Violin

Sonia Meskini was born in Tunis, Tunisia in 1987. She began playing music at the age of 5 (drums/tumbek). She has studied music, as well as playing violin, for 8 years at El Menzah Music School in Tunisia. She graduated from the Music School in 2006. She received an award as a best student and violin player in 2004. 2000 was the year she played violin, for the first time, with her Music School band. After that, she joined other bands some of them are the Tunisian Radio and TV Music band and “Group Dhikrayat” with whom she played for the last time in Madina Festival in Tunisia in 2012. She has participated in a Radio program called “Music for All” as a violin player with the Tunisian Radio and TV Music band for 3 years. In 31st of December 2009, she was invited to join the National Radio Band to participate in the 2010 New Year's Eve party. She has also participated in several Tunisian festivals such as the National Military day and Women day. Sonia is interested in several kinds of music but she plays more Maghrebian and Middle Eastern Music. Sonia immigrated to Canada in 2011 and kept playing music with friends until she joined Arabesque Orchestra in November 2013 as a violin player.

George
George Barbas
George Barbas

George Barbas — Percussionist

George plays dohola, dumbek and bongos with Arabesque. Having studied percussion styles from various cultures, Middle Eastern and Greek percussion is where he spends the vast majority of his practice and playing time. In addition to his role with Arabesque, George is lead percussionist with the Canadian composer and award winning multi-instrumentalist, Yiannis Kapoulas. Having often been asked how an individual with Greek origins has become adept in Middle Eastern music, his response is: "Middle Eastern and Greek music share many similarities. With the dumbek in particular, Arabic culture invented and mastered the instrument. The crossover to Greek music is seamless."

Sebastian
George Barbas
Sebastian Gatto

Sebastian Gatto — Percussionist

Sebastian has been performing with the Arabesque Dance Company since July 1999. He has dabbled with various styles of percussion and a trip to Morocco and Tunisia exposed him to the propulsive rhythms of the Arab world, which eventually led him to Dr George Sawa. After several dumbek classes, Sebastian was asked to join the Arabesque Orchestra and has since then received more training with Amer Matri and Suleiman Warwar, performing at various Arabic functions as well as participating in workshops led by Yasmina Ramzy. Sebastian appears regularly with fellow Arabesque Drummers, Suleiman Warwar and George Barbas every Sunday night at Layali Arabesque.

Ernie
Ernie Tollar
Ernie Tollar

Ernie Tollar — Reeds, Flute

Performing from Cairo to Kapuskasing, Ernie looks for connections in world cultures. Jazz collaborators include Dave Restivo, Shelly Berger, Holly Cole, NOJO, Kenny Wheeler, Joe Lovano, Don Thompson, David Piltch, Yvette Tollar, Hugh Marsh and Don Byron. World music credits include performances with Trichy's Trio, Greek/Arabic ensembles Maza Mez and Doula, Indo-Jazz group Tasa, Altin Yildiz Gypsy Orkestar, Maryem Tollar, Rick Shadrach Lazar and Spare Parts. Ernie has studied South Indian classical music with mrdangam virtuoso Trichy Sankaran and N. Ramani Flute, Arabic music with Dr. George Sawa, Alfred Gamil, Ibrahim Kawala.

George Sawa
George Sawa
George Sawa

George Sawa — Founder

George Sawa was born in Alexandria , Egypt in 1947. He studied Classical Arabic music at the Higher Institute of Arabic Music specializing in qanoon, voice and theory. After immigrating to Canada in 1970, he studied ethno-musicology and obtained his doctorate in Historical Arabic Musicology at the University of Toronto. He has taught medieval, modern and religious Middle Eastern Music at York University and the University of Toronto, and is the author of "Music Performance in Early Abbasid Era 750-932AD" published in 1989. George Sawa has given numerous concerts and lecture demonstrations at universities, museums and art galleries in Europe and North America He has been teaching at Arabesque Academy, School of Middle Eastern Dance and Music Arts since 1995 and regularly teaches alongside Yasmina Ramzy in many dance workshops. He was awarded the 1990 Ontario Folk Arts Recognition Fellowship for his performances and lecture demonstrations on the qanoon. George served as a performer, composer and music coach in R. Murray Schafer's RA in Toronto (1983) and Holland (1985). As well as serving as the Musical Director for the Egyptian exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum, George has arranged music for and directed the musicians of the Arabesque Dance Company Orchestra from 1996 where he also played the qanoon and naye in all of their performances until 2004.

Najwa
Najwa Tannus
Najwa Tannus

Najwa Tannus — Lead Vocals

Najwa Tannus was born into a musical family in Jish, Palestine. After immigrating to Canada in 1989 with her family, she began her musical studies on piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music. A year later, she began a new musical career in Arabic singing at the age of 13. Najwa spent her teenage years between the Royal Conservatory and home studies, which she received from her father, Marun Tannus, who taught her Arabic vocal techniques and solfege (Maqamatt Arabia). She also mastered the method of Mawaweel that is known in Arabic as vocal improvisation. Najwa has been involved with such festivals as the Ontario place Multi-cultural Music Festival and the Canadian Multi-cultural Press Conference, promoting Arabic music. She has performed with renowned Arabic musical artists throughout the Middle East and North America.

Jade
Jade Atallah
Jade Atallah

Jade Atallah — Dumbek

Jade was born in Dbayeh, Lebanon in 1981. Raised in a household passionate about music, she discovered her energy for the Doumbek (Derbakkeh in Lebanese) in her late teens with her 2 younger sisters. They enjoyed the instrument but never developed their skills professionally. Jade moved to Canada at the age of 19. While pursuing her higher education, her excitement for the Doumbek grew stronger both on the musical and cultural level. In 2010 "decision made", Jade joined classes with Doumbek genius Suleiman Warwar at Arabesque Academy. Since then, she has performed with Arabesque at several venues, and is currently teaching Doumbek level 2 at Arabesque Academy, and levels 1 and 2 at St. Charbel School Mississauga. Jade continues to expand her Doumbek skills at Arabesque Academy, and is ecstatic to be learning and performing the music that she loves alongside other musicians.