Naseer Shamma has dedicated his life both to the music of the oud and to his humanitarian work. Born in 1963, at Al-Kut, in southern Iraq, Naseer studied at Baghdad’s Institute of Music, where he specialized in the oud. In 1998, Naseer founded the Beit al-Oud al-Arabi al-Harawi, at Cairo. Following his discovery of a ninth-century manuscript of the musical theorist al-Farabi, Naseer reconstructed the 8-string oud, which expanded the range of the instrument from the 6-string oud, giving it a “distinct tonality”. Most recently, he established an “Eastern Orchestra”, composed of seventy musicians playing rare instruments from the Arab World.
Naseer’s belief that art is an integral part of the human soul is evident in his humanitarian work. He has established an organization dedicated to the education of talented and creative children in Iraq. He has also worked to alleviate the plight of Iraqi refugees, including at a concert organized by the UNHCR at the Damascus Opera House in June 2008.
Naseer is testimony to his own belief that, “when an innovator is really cultured, he can choose to adopt any cause.”