City Paper is not for tourists
One of the foremost interpreters of traditional Arabic music in the West, Simon Shaheen is a celebrated virtuoso on the oud, the pear-shaped Middle Eastern string instrument from which the lute takes its name. Typically the mainstay of any Arabic musical ensemble, the oud in Shaheen’s hands easily carries the show, by turns lively and vibrant, brooding and melancholy. The New York-based Palestinian musician and composer has not only mastered his traditional musical heritage; he’s also a classically trained violinist and incorporates Western genres like jazz and Latin beats into his work, particularly on his best-known album, 2001’s Blue Flame. Shaheen performs at Sixth & I as part of the season-long “Silk Road” series organized by Washington Performing Arts in conjunction with the 15th-anniversary tour of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. Joining Shaheen are three other Arab musicians, including his brother Nijab, a fellow oudist, and Sashank Navaladi, an Indian sarod player. Their performance promises to be as musically diverse as the legendary silk route. Simon Shaheen performs at 8 p.m. at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW. $35. (202) 408-3100. sixthandi.org.