George (Dimitri) Sawa. Ethnomusicologist, b Alexandria, Egypt, 18 Jan 1947; B SC (Alexandria) 1969, Diploma performance and theory (RSM) 1970, Licentiate music education (RSM) 1970, MA musicology (Toronto) 1971, PH D Middle East and Islamic studies (Toronto) 1983. Originally trained as an engineer, he received his diplomas from the RSM in Alexandria. He emigrated to Canada in 1971 where he entered graduate studies at the University of Toronto. His book, Music Performance Practice in the Early 'Abbasid Era. 750-932 A.D. (Toronto 1989), was based on his doctoral dissertation. He was awarded a five-year Canada Research Fellowship in 1987 and in 1986 began to teach at the University of Toronto. He is also a member of the graduate departments of dance and music at York University.
Sawa is a scholar of Middle Eastern music and a performer on the kanun (Middle Eastern zither). In 1990 he received the OAC's Folk Arts Recognition Fellowship given for artistic excellence. He has been an active member of the Society for Ethnomusicology and the Asian Music Society, and has performed on kanun at university campuses and recital halls throughout Canada, the USA, Europe, and the Middle East. He collaborated with R. Murray Schafer in the production of RA, which was performed in Toronto in 1983 and Leiden, Holland in 1985. In addition to his solo performances, he performs in the Traditional Arabic Music Ensemble of Toronto with his wife, Suzanne Meyers Sawa, darbukka (goblet-shaped drum) and Ebrahim Eleish, ud (lute).
His academic specialization is the relationship between theory and practice in medieval Arabic music, particularly in the works of al-Farabi (d 150) and al-Isfahani (d 967), but he is equally knowledgable about modern Arabic musical culture. With his combined abilities as a scholar and a performer, he brings great insight into the complexities of Arabic music. He is a contributor to EMC.
'The survival of some aspects of performance practice of medieval Arabic music,' Ethnomusicology, vol 25, no. 1, 1981
'Bridging one millenium: melodic movement in al-Farabi and Kolinski,' Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Music, Robert Falck and Timothy Rice, eds (Toronto 1982)
'Al-Farabi (Music),' 'Iqa',' 'Maqam,' 'Music, Arabic influence on,' 'Music, Islamic influence on,' 'Music, Islamic world,' 'Music, Middle East,' 'Musical instruments, Middle East,' Dictionary of the Middle Ages (New York 1982-9)
'Al-Farabi's theory of the Iqa': an empirically derived model for rhythmic analysis,' Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology, vol 1, no. 9, 1983-84
'Musical humour in the Kitab al-Aghani (Book of Songs),' Logos Islamikos, Studia Islamica in Honorem Georgii Michaelis Wickens, Roger M. Savory and Dionisius Agius, eds, Papers in Mediaeval Studies 6 (Toronto 1984)
'The status and role of the secular musician in Kitab al-Aghani,' Asian Music, vol 17, no. 1, 1985
'Oral transmission in Arabic music, past and present,' Oral Tradition, vol 4, no. 1-2, 1989
'Teaching our Middle Eastern musical heritage,' An Introduction to Multicultural Music Education: Global Perspectives in Music, William M. Anderson and Patricia K. Shehan, eds (Reston, Va 1989)