Omar Bashir

Omar Bashir (Arabic: عمر بشير‎) is an Iraqi/Hungarian musician and at present the most renowned player of the oud (the Arabic lute), the most important solo instrument in Arabic music.

Omar is the son of oud player and composer Munir Bashir, who was one of the greatest  musicians in the Middle East during the 20th century. Omar has followed in the footsteps of his father, to become one of the most important solo artists in both classical and contemporary Arabic music by his own virtue. Omar has worked as a solo artist, as well as with his own group. He also worked with highly respected musicians like Quincy Jones and Jordi SavallOmar Bashir was born in Budapest in 1970, and started playing the oud with his father at the age of five. He joined the Baghdad Music and Ballet School and eventually created his own band, which toured in many countries. In 1991, he left for Budapest and joined the Franz Liszt Academy..

Omar performed as a soloist and with his father Munir until his death in 1997. During his career, he toured many countries and released more than 19 albums. His music is a mix of traditional Arabic music with a jazz-like improvisation.

Omar Bashir has won much recognition and many international awards for his work and musical achievement. He has performed internationally in prestigious musical halls and often in the presence of notable figures. He collaborated with many international artists, ranging from Jordi Savall to Quincy Jones.

Biography

Omar was born in 1970 in Hungary. His mother is Hungarian, and his father an Assyrian from Iraq, was the oud artist Munir Bashir. At the age of five, Bashir left Hungary with his parents to live in Iraq, where he grew up. The oud which he uses in his performances is in the same one that he used as a child.

At the age of seven, Omar Bashir joined the Baghdad Music and Ballet School, the arts school he was attending when he made his oud solo debut at the age of nine, at the Baghdad Conservatory. In his late teens, he became a teacher at the Baghdad Music and Ballet School, creating his own band of 24 musicians specialising in classical Iraqi music. Bashir's debut with his father Munir Bashir was at the age of 13, and by the age of 20, he was regularly performing alongside his father.

In 1991, Bashir's parents moved back to Hungary, where he studied at the Liszt Ferenc University, continuing to work and perform oud duets with his father until the latter's death in 1997. The pair performed internationally, touring various Arab countries, the United States, Canada, and Russia. The death of his father marked a turning point in Omar Bashir's musical career.

On the first anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Omar Bashir came to the United States by official invitation from the Institute of Arab Music and the United States government. The aim was to raise funds for the Iraqi Symphony Orchestra, which was brought over to perform in the United States. He also took part in various charity performances to raise funds for Iraqi children.

Albums

Omar Bashir released a total of 20 CDs. His album Crazy Oud was released in 2010 by the record company EMI. The sales of this CD has topped the charts in several Arab countries. Below is a listing of all of the albums he has released, in chronological order:

  • Duet of the Two Bashirs: Munir and Omar - 1994, dubbed by French papers at the time to be the "best musical performance."[
  • From the Euphrates to the Danube - 1997, a mix of oud and Western music. The title of this CD refers to the two rivers generally near where he grew up and where he was born, respectively.
  • Ashwaq - 1998, a solo oud performance
  • My Memories - 1998, included the oud and percussion instruments
  • Flamenco Night - 1998, a recording of the last concert that Omar played with his father, before the latter's death
  • Al Andalus - 1999, the first-ever combination of oud and guitar, produced by Shahin Production in Lebanon
  • Zikrayati - 1999. The song, whose title means "my memories," was played using oud and percussion.
  • Live Solo Oud Performance - 2000, played in Beirut, Lebanon
  • Sound of Civilizations - 2001, Buddha Bar style of music
  • To My Father - 2002, used oud and percussion to play and improvise pieces performed together with his father
  • Gypsy Oud - 2003, a combination of oud and Hungarian Gypsy music
  • Latin Oud - 2004, the first time that Latin tunes were played on the oud
  • Oud Hawl al Alam ("Oud Around the World") - 2004, played first at a live concert in Budapest, this was the first time that music from the oud and guitar were combined
  • Crazy Oud - 2010, involves various styles of music, such as Iraqi Maqam, Rumba, Flamenco, blues, ambient, classical, folklore, and improvisation
  • Masters of Oud - 2010, duets performed by Munir and Omar Bashir and released by EMI, which created the CD remixes "Baghdad Blues - Desert Launch", "Mesopotamix" and "Café du Paris".
  • Takasim - 2012, a solo oud recording produced by INEDIT Records
  • The Dancing Oud - 2014

Rehearsing with bandmembers Adam Hosman (perc.) and Balint Petsz (guitar); Antwerp, March 2014