Art of the Early Egyptian Qanun
George Sawa was born in Alexandria, Egypt. He studied voice, theory, and qanun at the Higher Institute of Arabic Music, where his qanun teachers were Muhammad al-Sa'douni (a student of Mustapha Bey Reda), Milad Mansour (a student of 'Abdel-Hamid al-Addabi), Amin Fahmi and Mustapha Kamel. After immigrating to Canada, he studied ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto, and obtained his doctorate in historical Arabic musicology at the Department of Middle East and Islamic Studies. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses on medieval, modern, and religious music of the Middle East at the University of Toronto and at York University, where he recently held the Noor Visiting Professorhip. George is the author of Music Performance Practice in the Early Abbasid Era, 132-320 AH/750-932 AD (Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, 1989; rpt. By The Institute of Mediaeval Music, Ottawa, 2004). His second book, Theories of Rhythms in Arabic Writings, 750-950 AD (Institute of Mediaeval Music) is forthcoming. He has published many articles on Arabic music in refereed journals and encyclopedias, and is frequently invited to give papers, presentations, lectures and concerts in the Middle East, North America, and Europe. He has recorded with Maureen Forrester, Raffi, Bram Morrisson and R. Murray Schafer. He composed two chants for R. Murray Schafer's The Litany of Ra (1983) and also performed in it's Canadian and Dutch productions. George has been the musical director for several productions of the Toronto based Arabesque Dance Academy. He is the recipient of many Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada grants, a Canada Research Fellowship, and Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council grants. In 2005 he received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Egyptian Ministry of Culture for his research in Arabic music history, and has most recently been honored with the award of excellence in the Arts and Culture category by the Canadian Arab Federation. Raymond B. Sarweh was born in Damascus, Syria, into a well known family of professional musicians. He studied percussion with 'Abdel-Men'em Isma'il, and theory with his brothers Selim and Emile Sarweh, obtaining his Arabic music degree from the Damascus Conservatory of Music. Before immigrating to Canada, he performed in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, with many famous Arab singers and dancers. After coming to Canada, he created the first professional Arabic music band in Toronto and performed extensively in many Canadian cities, as well as in the USA and Latin America. Acknowledged as a virtuoso tambourine performer, as well as a singer, lutenist and composer, Raymond has performed with The Traditional Arabic Music Ensemble at many Toronto venues including the Royal Ontario Museum, CBC, Harbourfront, and the Music Garden. Suzanne Meyers Sawa was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a degree in piano performance from Wittenberg University in Ohio, and Masters degrees in both musicology and library science from the University of Toronto, where she is currently Assistant Librarian at the Faculty of Music Library. She has studied classical Arabic at the University of Toronto, and Arabic percussion in Egypt and also with Raymond Sarweh in Toronto. A member of the Traditional Arabic Music Ensemble since the early 1980's, Suzanne has also performed in the Canadian and Dutch productions of R. Murray Schafer's The Litany of RA. She has given numerous papers on Arabic music at international conferences, and has published on Arabic women musicians in the early Islamic period, for both The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music and The Encyclopedia of Islam (third edition). She is presently at work on a book of annotated translations (from medieval Arabic sources) of stories about women musicians.