Classical Spree 17-18

1.Classical Music of Middle East

1.Classical Music of Middle East


Piano Nobile

Three internationally acclaimed musicians – Nazih Borish on oud, Didem Basar on kanun, and Joseph Khoury on darbuka – perform classical music of the Arab world, offering a window onto the rich musical universe of Syrian and Turkish cultures.


YOUTH RATE 17 years and under : $10 per concert


From $22*


6:45 PM


Nazih Borish, oud
Didem Basar, kanun
Joseph Khoury, darbuka

Programme Notes:

The programme of this concert features maqams, a particularly complex musical system in the learned genre of classical Arab and Turkish traditions. The three musicians we have the privilege of hearing today are internationally renowned as virtuosi of the oud, kanun, and darbuka. They explore the foundations of Eastern classical music and its ties to Syria and nearby cultures such as Turkey.


Widespread throughout the entire Middle East, maqams are a collection of non-tempered scales, each one offering a rich palette of micro-intervals. This modal system fosters an astonishing rate of modulation, as well as an abundant display of improvisation and dazzling virtuosity. Each maqam conveys its own colour, particular feeling, and unique nature.


Audiences will be transported to the heart of rich Middle-Eastern musical traditions, tinged with sweetness and melancholy, imbued with characteristic rhythms, and gifted with prodigious instrumental playing. The experience cannot fail to nurture the imagination.

Nazih Borish

Nazih Borish was born in 1982 in Lattakia, Syria. He began playing the oud at the age of five. Nazih was a young virtuoso who developed his own style based in the maqams tradition and in an exploration of other major musical traditions, including Indian ragas, flamenco, and jazz. Mr. Borish’s approach reflects the richness of Syria, a country steeped in a centuries-old culture, nurtured by a variety of artistic traditions. His versatility is frequently in demand as an invited artist at international oud festivals. Since moving to Montreal in 2016, he has been teaching at the Centre des musiciens du monde and has collaborated with various leading musicians and ensembles on the international scene: Didem Basar, Sergiu Popa, Caroline Planté, Katia Madkissi-Warren, Kiya Tabassian, to name only a few.

Didem Basar

Didem Basar was born in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1974. At the age of 11, she began her studies at the Turkish Music State Conservatory. After completing her kanun training under Nevzat Sumer, she went on to study in the Composition Department. She subsequently taught the art of the kanun at the Haliç University Conservatory as well as teaching harmony and solfège at the Istanbul Technical University State Conservatory. In 2002, Didem joined the Bezmara ensemble and began to play the Turkish santur in addition to the traditional kanun with metal strings, exploring Ottoman music in a new way. Since 2007, she has played with Montreal-based Fenci’s Ensemble and Constantinople. Her technical mastery of the kanun, her knowledge of maqams as well as her high-quality playing make her a much sough-after musician as well as one of the greatest representatives of the Turkish kanun.

Joseph Khoury

Originally from Lebanon, Joseph Khoury discovered percussion at the age of three. His love of music began to develop upon attending classes at the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music. Distinguished player of darbuka, riq, ketim, and duhulla, Joseph has performed with renowned musicians in Canada, the United States, and Lebanon. He has played with various orchestras in Montreal and for more than ten years, regularly accompanies Middle-Eastern dancers. Currently, Joseph, along with two other Montreal-based musicians, form the Sokoun trio. In 2009, they released their first album, Zanneh, which was warmly received by Montreal critics, and for which the trio won “World Group of the Year” at the Canadian Folk Music Awards in Winnipeg, in November 2010.