Ibn Rushd Fund for Freedom of Thought

Members of the Jury of Ibn Rushd Prize 2013

Lotfi Bouchnak

Lotfi Bouchnak, born 1952 in Tunis to a family of Turkish-Bosnian origin, is a Tunisian singer, oud player, composer and public figure. He is considered one of the best tenors in the Middle East, North Africa, and the Arab world and has been dubbed as "Tunisia's Pavarotti". At a young age, he began re-performing the songs of Umm Kulthum and other masters of Egyptian music. He joined the "Youth Musical Group of Tunis", then "ar-Rachidia", where he started improving his vocal skills with Ali Sriti. He also learnt to play the Oud. In 1979, at the age of 27, Bouchnak recorded his first song composed by Ahmad Siddiqi, which was an important point in his career. He then started working with other famous composers such as Sayedd Mekawi, Fathallah Ahmad, and Anwar Brahem. In the 1980s, he started composing songs for other artists such as Cheb Khaled and the rap group IAM. Bouchnak has been one of the few artists to have regular shows in the Opera House Cairo since 1992. He is highly regarded for his exceptional skills in his voice, for his particular kind of interpretation and his audience-winning stage presence. He won the best Arab Singer Award in Washington, DC in 1997.

 

Ghawi Ghawi

Prof. Dr. Ghawi Ghawi was born in 1950 in Nazareth. He studied music at the Bulgarian State Conservatoire in Sofia/Bulgaria, where he also specialized in conducting orchestras. He completed his PhD 1981 and has been holding the title of professor since 1996. Prof. Ghawi is founder of the School Of Fine Arts at An-Najah National University in Nablus/ Palestine, where he served as dean until 2002. He also taught music at several other universities. Ghawi also composed several oeuvres himself and has conducted many international orchestras.

 

Malek Jandali

Born in Germany to Syrian parents in 1972, award-winning composer and pianist Malek Jandali is recognized as a leading figure in today's piano world. His musical career as a concert pianist began in 1988 after winning the first prize at the National Young Artists’ competition, followed by the 1997 “Outstanding Musical Performer Award” in the United States. Jandali is the first Arab musician to arrange the oldest music notation in the world, which was featured in his 2008 album “Echoes from Ugarit”. He was the recipient of the 2011 “Freedom of Expression” award in Los Angeles for his song “Watani Ana – I am my Homeland”, and for his activism in the Arab Spring movement for human rights and democracy. In 2012, he was received the Arab-American Cultural Achievement Award in New York City. His latest album "Emessa - Homs" includes original compositions recorded with The Russian Philharmonic Orchestra. Malek currently resides in Atlanta and is a member of The Recording Academy and The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

 

Naseer Shamma

Naseer Shamma is a renowned Iraqi musician and oud player. He was born in 1963 in Kut, a city on the Tigris River in South Iraq. He began studying the oud at the age of 12 in Baghdad, following in the footsteps of Munir Bashir. He began to teach oud after three years at the academy and received his diploma from the Baghdad Academy of Music in 1987. During his stay in Jordan in 1998, Shamma composed the music for the play "Al Balad talabat Ahlaha" by Abdul Latif Aql, directed by Al Monsef Al Souissi, for which Shamma received an award at the Carthage Festival the following year. From 1993 to 1998 he taught music at the Music Academy in Tunisia. Since end of the 1990’s he settled in Cairo/Egypt, and in 1998 founded Bait Al-Oud Al-Arabi (House of Arab Oud), of which he is leading director. Naseer Shamma founded many bands, for example the 'Eyes Ensemble' in Cairo in 1999, which combines method and instruments of classical Arab music and Western music. Naseer Shamma has lots of experiences with artists from many countries in the context of East-West dialogue, he has composed music for films, plays and television (he composed the soundtracks of more than 30 theatric works until 1998), and received numerous prizes and awards.