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About George Sawa:

George Sawa has given numerous concerts in Europe, North America and the Middle East. He was born in Alexandria, Egypt where he studied piano with Irene Drakides, a student of Alfred Cortot, and at the Higher Institute of Arabic Music where he studied voice, theory, and qanun (Arabic psaltery). His qanun teachers were Muhammad al-Sa‘duni (a student of Mustapha Bey Reda), Milad Mansur (a student of Abdel-Hamid al-Addabi), Amin Fahmi and Mustapha Kamel. After immigrating to Canada in 1970, he studied ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto, and obtained his doctorate in historical Arabic musicology at the Department of Middle Eastern Studies. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses on medieval, modern, and religious music of the Middle East at York University, and at the University of Toronto (1982-1995), and held the Noor Visiting Professorhip at York University (2006-2007).

George Sawa is founder and director of the Traditional Arabic Music Ensemble, which has been heard in venues across Canada and the USA, and has been broadcast on the CBC. He has recorded with Maureen Forrester, Raffi, Bram Morrisson and R. Murray Schafer. He has appeared as a guest soloist with several groups specializing in Middle Eastern music, and Early Music, and he has been a musical director for many of the productions of the Arabesque Dance Academy. He is the recipient of many SSHRCC grants, Canada Research Fellowship, Canada Council and OAC Grants: he was awarded a Chalmers’ Foundation Grant to compose two chants for R. Murray Schafer’s The Litany of RA (1982); an Ontario Folk Arts Recognition Fellowship from the OAC for his performances on the qanun (1990); Canada Council Grant for Small Ensemble (Music and Opera Section, 1992) to produce his own concert; Venture Fund Grant from the OAC, to share and develop Arabic music in Toronto (1993). He has also received the prestigious Life-Time Achievement Award from the Egyptian Ministry of Culture for his research in Arabic music history, and has been honored with the award of excellence under the category for Arts and Culture by the Canadian Arab Federation. Beside his research and performance, he teaches privately in his studio (qanun, nay, finger cymbals, theory and music appreciation for belly dancers). Among his students are many members of the Maza Meze ensemble (Sofia Grigoriadis, Ernie and Maryam Tollar, Jennifer Moore and Jayne Browne); he has also been a member of the teaching staff at the Arabic Music Retreat, Mount Holyeke College, South Hadley, Mass., where he has also performed with Ali Jihad Racy, Simon Shaheen, Bassam Saba, Youssef Kassab and Michel Merhej.

He is frequently invited to give papers, presentations, and lectures at international conferences in the Middle East, North America, and Europe, speaking on various aspects of medieval and modern Arabic music, as well as workshops on the performance of Arabic classical music.

About Nada El Masriya:

Nada El Masriya is a professional Egyptian belly dance Instructor and performer based out of Toronto. Born and raised in Egypt, Nada has over five years of intensive training with the prestigious Reda Troupe, including hundreds of performances on stage, TV and numerous awards. After moving to Canada, Nada began teaching Egyptian belly dance.

She now runs the successful Egyptian Dance Academy (formerly Hannan's Belly Dance Studio) teaching hundreds of students every week in Belly Dance and Egyptian Folklore. Called "One of Canada's hidden gems", Nada's classes and workshops are highly sought after due to her accurate, advanced skills and understanding.  As a performer, Nada El Masriya is in continuous high demand. She performed many times at the Luminato Festival in Toronto and last year danced for the opened for Egyptian Pop Star Hakim in 2011. She has also performed with the Traditional Arabic Music Ensemble for the International Council for Traditional Music Conference in St John's Newfoundland and had several TV appearances.

"Nada El Masriya is the Ambassador of Egyptian dance in Canada." -  Fifi Abdou (famous Egyptian actor and dancer)

"I saw Samia Gamal's elegance tonight when Nada El Masriya was performing". - Dr. George Sawa


The Traditional Arabic Music Ensemble Featuring George Sawa and Nada El Masriya


Qanun airs from across the centuries to entrance the ears, the heart and the soul.


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