Sami Abu Shumays

Deputy Director, Flushing Town Hall

Sami Abu Shumays is a multi-faceted arts administrator, musician, and educator.  As Deputy Director of Flushing Town Hall since 2012, he has raised nearly $3 million in funding for capital improvements to the historic landmark facility, and more than a half million in discretionary and programmatic support from the New York City Council and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. He has overseen the updating and revision of all of Flushing Town Hall’s institutional and legal documentation.  His responsibilities include financial management, fundraising and grant writing, community outreach, board relations, and government relations, and serves as the primary Human Resources officer at Flushing Town Hall.

A Harvard Graduate and Fulbright Fellow, Sami previously served as Director of the Queens Community Arts Fund at the Queens Council on the Arts, re-granting monies from the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and corporate donors, to hundreds of artists and arts organizations throughout Queens. He has performed fundraising and development work for Alwan, an Arab Arts organization based in Manhattan, and volunteer management for Make Music New York.

Sami is a violinist and vocalist performing traditional music from Egypt and Syria. He founded and directs the ensemble Zikrayat (, which is the foremost representative of Egyptian music and dance in New York, specializing in repertory from the "Golden Age" of Egyptian movie musicals (the 1940's-60's).  A GlobalFEST artist (2011) and Center for Traditional Music and Dance (CTMD) touring artist, Zikrayat has performed at Lincoln Center, Joe's Pub, City University of New York’s Elebash Hall, the American Folk Festival, the Lowell Folk Festival, and the Global Film & Music festival at William and Mary, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Alwan for the Arts, Drom, and many other venues.  Sami performs as a violinist with the National Arab Orchestra, and has performed with Youssef Kassab, Falu, Amir ElSaffar, Omnia Hegazy, and Elizabeth Ayyoub, and composed the soundtrack to the film Razan.  His teachers included Alfred Gamil (Cairo, Egypt); Mohamed Qasas, Abdel-Basit Bakkar and Abdel-Minaim Sinkary (Aleppo, Syria); and, Youssef Kassab, Simon Shaheen, and Jihad Racy (U.S.).

As an educator and scholar, Sami’s mission has been to raise awareness about the importance of traditional cultural knowledge, and he has given workshops, classes, and lectures on Arabic music at Lincoln Center, Alwan, The New School, Yale University, the City University of New York, Wesleyan University, The College of William and Mary, Creative Alliance in Baltimore, Lark Camp in Mendocino, CA, and Global Youth Village in Bedford, VA.  He has published on Arabic Music in Music Theory Spectrum, for the Society for Ethnomusicology, and on his website, and is co-author of the book Inside Arabic Music, forthcoming from Oxford University Press (2018).  

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