Grammy-nominated Simon Shaheen and Qantara perform at CSUSB


The night air at Cal State San Bernardino will soon be filled with the international music styling of Grammy-nominated Simon Shaheen and Qantara.

Simon Shaheen

Photo of Simon Shaheen by Joslyn Duncan.

Shaheen and Qantara will perform at the Santos Manuel Student Union Saturday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m.

“Tranquility in Music: An Evening with Simon Shaheen and Qantara,” is sponsored by the CSUSB Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University Diversity Committee, the College of Arts and Letters, the Ethnic Studies Program, the Muslim Student Association at CSUSB, and the non-profit organization Human Assistance and Development International.

The performance is free and open to the public. Parking is $5. Because of the popularity of Simon Shaheen and Qantara, event organizers recommend that seats be reserved for the performance by contacting the CIMES main office at (909) 537-3778.

Simon Shaheen is a professor of music at the Berklee College of Music and the New England Conservatory in Boston. He is considered to be one of the most significant Arab musicians, performers and composers of his generation. His contribution to the world of arts was recognized in 1994, when he was honored with the prestigious National Heritage Award at the White House.

During President Bill Clinton’s administration, Shaheen served on the Presidential Committee at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Early in 2009, Shaheen toured the United States with his project, “Aswat,” performing in 12 major concert halls, including the Kennedy Center as part of the Arabesque Festival.

In the 1990s, he released four albums of his own: “Saltanah” (Water Lily Acoustics), “Turath” (CMP), “Taqasim” (Lyrichord) and “Simon Shaheen: The Music of Mohamed Abdel Wahab”(Axiom), while also contributing to producer Bill Laswell’s fusion collective, “Hallucination Engine” (Island).

CIMES_Simon Shaheen Event_poster

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He has contributed selections to soundtracks for the films “The Sheltering Sky” and “Malcolm X,” among others, and has composed the entire soundtrack for the United Nations-sponsored documentary, “For Everyone Everywhere.” Broadcast globally in December 1998, this film celebrated the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Human Rights Charter.

Perhaps Shaheen’s greatest success has come with “Blue Flame” (ARK21, 2001), where he led his group, Qantara (whose name means arch in Arabic) on a labyrinthian journey through the world of fusion music to discover the heart of the Middle East. The album was nominated for 11 Grammy Awards, and the band’s performances were called “glorious.”  The Los Angeles Times proclaimed the record “stunning;” National Public Radio called it “a staggering tour-de-force of technique and passion;” CMJ called it “a new benchmark in Arab-Western fusion;” and the Washington Post termed it “eminently cosmopolitan.”

Shaheen’s concert credits are a veritable compendium of the world’s greatest venues, including Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. In May 2004, Shaheen appeared at Quincy Jones’ “We Are The Future,” fundraising concert in Rome and conducted his special song “We Are The Future” in front of a crowd estimated at 500,000 people.

For more information, contact Kevin E. Grisham, director of CIMES at Cal State San Bernardino, at (909) 537-7569 or

For more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007 and visit