Letter From the President

 Greetings to All!
The AAWM is very happy to present the first issue of the AAWM NEWSLETTER!! We hope that this letter will become a means of communication for our Members and that we may strengthen our ties to each other as well as be informed of important developments concerning our organization.
The NEWSLETTER will also serve as a forum for those who wish to share their thoughts on music in writing.
This issue contains a beautiful contribution from Mary Daoud “Say Yes to Music” and a small article about Women in Music along with general information about our organization and activities.  I hope the comments in my article will incite musicians to discuss music issues for a better musical future in our region.

We must apologize that our NEWSLETTER has taken some time to come out.  We hope that you will enjoy it and that it is the first of many more in the future, and I hope our next issue will be both in Arabic and English.

                                                   All the best,
                                                  Agnes Bashir


The Arab Alliance of Women in Music (AAWM), based in Jordan, is devoted to fulfilling the purposes of creativity and communication in both traditional and contemporary music. The AAWM was created on November 25, 1998 and registered with the Jordanian Ministry of Culture on 24/1/2000, under reference number 256/12/8.  


President              : Agnes Bashir

Vice-President     : Muna Zawaideh

Administration     : Tamara Dagestani

Treasurer              : Ilham Hattar-Zumot

Public Relations   : Alia Armouti-Homoud

Activities               : Marina Mango-Denisova

Publicity               : Julie Carter-Sarayrah

"Reflections" by Agnes Bashir was included in the following Jubilee concerts of the Millenium Celebration by Fondazione Donne in Musica –Italy:
2nd December (Fiuggi)
3rd December (Frosinone)
6th December (Roma  Basilica di Santa Maria Sopra Minerva)

Activities of AAWM  2000-1:

24th of January 2000 – Official establishment of AAWM.

24th of April
- Opening Night Celebration.

4th–9th of June
- Attendance of the International Millennium Congress on Art and Communication. (Washington D.C., USA).Agnes Bashir won Award of Millennium for Performance and Medal of Recognition at the Congress.

16th–19th of September
- Malak Al Taher and Agnes Bashir I.O.M. attended the meeting of Honorary Committee of Adkins –Chitti Foundation, where AAWM was added to the list of members.

22nd–27th of September
- Agnes Bashir along with Monica Steinbrenner performed during 2nd Festival of Women Creators of the Two Seas: the Mediterranean and the Black Sea (Thessaloniki, Greece) organized by UNESCO.

22nd of December
- Concert for Children was held in cooperation with The Performing Art Center.

15th–16th of January 2001
- Under the Patronage of H.R.H. Princess Basma Fundraising Concert of Lubana Al Quntar and Juman Obeid (Syria) at The Regency Palace Hotel and the residency of Mr. & Mrs. Shafique Zawaideh.

Why "Yes" to Music

May I say that any party who organizes or helps in a cultural or musical event, adds a unique flower to the Park of Culture and Music and at the end, we all enjoy this enriching beautiful Park.
Research by Dr. Nancy Dess, who is a Professor of Psychology at Occidental College and Senior Scientist at the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C. proved that long term musical involvement raps cognitive rewards in language skills, reasoning and creativity and boosts social adjustment. Music stimulates the brain and makes brain cells communicate faster with each other. Listening to music involves hearing, emotion and vision, and playing an instrument involves touch, motor planning, emotion, symbol interpretation - all of which activate different brain systems. Children and Adults who were exposed to music scored higher percentages in intelligence, reasoning and personality profile.
Patients who were exposed to music cured faster and had more positive attitudes towards life than those who were not exposed to music.New research released in May 2001 by the British Psychological Society, specifically by Researchers at the University of London, Elizabeth Valentine, Ph.D. and Nicholas Foster, a Ph.D. candidate, proved that music helped elderly people to remember the golden years of their lives.   Scientists say it's the pulse of the music - and therefore the body - that counts. "Music gets the general level of our system up". Providing background music — especially if it's a catchy tune — to an older relative will help him/her tell the story of his/her life. So now music is also being used as a memory aid for elderly people

So, please have more music in your lives and encourage your children to be more involved and exposed to music, they will be achievers....

Vive La Musique And Towards A Better Life To All Of Us, Adults & Children...

Mary Daoud (Miss)

International Concerts & Arts


Events Calendar

Storioni Trio Amsterdam and the Orchestra of the National Music Conservatory: Thursday 15 November 2001 - 8:00 pm Royal Cultural Center.
Orchestra of the National Music Conservatory: Thursday 13 December 2001 8:00 pm - Venue to be Announced.
Look for Up-coming Announcement for Piano Duo Recital of Agnes Bashir and Zena Asfour.
Look for forthcoming events for the holy month of Ramadan and Christmas, to be announced by Freddy For Music.

Thoughts on Women in Music

By Agnes Bashir-Dzodtsoeva I.O.M.(Cambridge) 

Sometime ago, I was asked to comment on the present role of women in the musical culture of the Middle East.  I found this task quite difficult because of a lack of material about female composers and performers living in our area at the present time.
Arab women are instrumental in the building of musical education in Arab countries, but they are less represented as composers and the performing arts, compared to the classical international field. However, many are involved in traditional and pop music performance.
As a result of the establishment of musical institutions during the past 30 years, a number of local talents have surfaced, but as usual, more emphasis is given to performing arts.  Only a few musicians have begun to combine knowledge of Western with the Middle Eastern music traditions.
I think that the information about music that is available through the media is insufficient to educate our younger generations. As an example, in Jordan; traditional and pop music predominate in daily tv and radio programs. Only one program includes the performance of classical music with comments in English. Unfortunately, new modern experimental music is rarely introduced.
Many young musicians spend several years studying music of Western cultures, and lately it has been observed that they have difficulties balancing between the well- documented specifics of Western and less known specifics of Eastern cultures. If theoretical knowledge is well presented in school programs, musical awareness and philosophical basis of Western and Eastern music are less acknoledged.  This picture is typical for most countries of the Middle East.
From my point of view it takes 2-3 generations to create musicians who can present their culture on the proper professional level, with the exception of some individuals. The process of establishing traditions of a new approach to music continues and there is a positive movement in the right direction. The Middle East has been a land of great civilizations and this knowledge should help young musicians to recognize the value of the past and find the proper path to the future.
One of the most important events of the last 30 years was the establishment of the Arab Academy of Music (Arab League) in 1971. The current President of the Arab Academy of Music is Ritiba Hefni. An opera singer herself and the daughter of a famous Egyptian musicologist.  She plays a significant role in the preservation of traditional Arabic music. Ritiba Hefni has performed in many countries as an opera singer and was one of the youngest Deans of the Conservatory in Cairo. Another important Egyptian woman composer of the new generation is Mona Ghoneim. She was born in Cairo in 1955 and studied music at the Conservatory of Cairo - piano with Ettore Pugiisi and composition and traditional Arab modes with Prof. Gamal Abdel-Rahim. Later she continued her studies in the Vienna Academy from which
she graduated in 1987. She composed music mostly for the piano and was awarded the prize for creative artistic work in the field of composition from the Academy of Arts of Cairo in 1991. The Associated Syndicate of the Arts has given her an honorary certificate on her contributions to music in 1992.
Another Middle Eastern country with a very rich musical tradition is Lebanon. Lebanon has a large Christian country population who, through the musical practices of the church, are more familiar with European singing style.  Although sometimes a mixture of many different influences, one can always recognize the typical Lebanese style that has influenced musical traditions in many neighboring countries such as Syria, Jordan and Palestine. I would like to mention the Lebanese composer and singer of the new generation, Hiba Al Kawas. She was born in 1972 in Saida and is one of today’s prominent young composers.  She studied psychology at the Lebanese University. Her musical education started in the Lebanese National Conservatory in 1989.  She received a Master’s Diploma in opera singing under Dr. Toufic Kerbaje and Prof. Garo Tchadarian.  This was followed by intensive musical studies at Chigiana Academy in Sienna, Italy with Maestro Donatoni in composition and Maestro Carlo Bergonzi in operatic singing.  She studied musicology under the supervision of Dr. Waieed Gholmieh in 1995.  Her ambition is to create an Arabic opera.
I would like also to mention three prominent female musicians from Syria who are involved in composition and education: llham Abu Seud is involved in musical education and has published a book about it and has composed many songs for children.  Mahasen Mutar studied violin and became a violin teacher in the Arabic Musical Institute in Damascus and is a member of the National Orchestra of Syria. Rana Junaid was born in 1967 and studied in the Musical Institute of Damascus and became a professor in the Institute of High Education and Arabic Musical Institute.
In Palestine, Tania Tamari Nasir is a writer and soprano opera singer who has spent many years working on experimental compositions that include Arabic poetry with Western classical style of music.  She is the translator of many books from Arabic to English and promotes Palestinian art traditions.  Also I would like to mention Rima Nasir Tarazi who started to study music in Birzet, then continued her studies at the American Junior College in Beirut and completed her studies in France.
In this report I have attempted to describe the developments in the field of musical arts in the modern Middle East and the position of women in it.  From my point of view, there are a lot of difficulties and problems, especially with people who work on the level of intellectual art.  If musicians in the field of commercial music are content with the current developments, I cannot say the same about intellectuals.  To add to the problem, there is little communication between composers living in different districts of the Arab world.  Meetings of the Arab Academy of Music focus only on the problems of traditional music and the preservation of this tradition.  It is a very important issue, as it concerns the preservation of Arab identity, but we need to move on and encourage our new generation of musicians to create innovative musical forms that measure up to world standards, based on the originality and specifics of local culture.

I hope that there will be more attention from authorities to problems and needs of musicians who dedicate themselves to serious problems in music and to proper musical education.  The solutions to these problems are discussed among musicians but very few are implemented.

I would like to finish my article on an optimistic note.  I have big hopes invested in the future generation of Arab musicians who have the opportunity to build an interesting new musical culture based on the heritage and traditions of the Orient.