Orontes Guitarists

guitar trio

Orantes Guitarists | Prairie Debut 2024-25 season

Gaby Al Botros
Orwa Al Sharaa
Mohammed Mir Mahmoud


Orantes Guitarists | Prairie Debut 2024-25 season

More than most, the Orontes Guitarists understand the power that music holds to build bridges and to heal. Like the river from which they draw their name, the trio crosses boundaries and borders, influencing and being influenced in return.

The group had a promising start in Beirut, appearing at venues including the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra and the French Embassy before civil war intruded. Thanks to the Artist Protection Fund (APF) which helps musicians in areas of conflict, the group has found refuge in Canada.

Hailing from different cultural and religious traditions themselves, the trio is keenly aware of how music transcends the barriers between us. They bring audiences an uplifting blend of baroque, flamenco and blues-inspired classical guitar, as they explore their new land and community in this Prairie Debut tour.

“Nimble fretwork  …. blended beautifully as they played through an eclectic set for classical guitar.”

– Eagle Valley News



The story of the Orontes Guitarists is one of fellowship that reached out across the world, as Canada opened its doors to welcome talented musicians fleeing war.

The Orontes Guitarists began in Beirut as a group of Syrian guitarists, with guidance and support of the world-renowned U.S. classical guitarist and composer Susan McDonald who teaches in conflict zones. Orontes appeared in concerts, events and festivals in Beirut, Lakatia, and Damascus, and performed with the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra as well as the Guitar and Classical Singing Divisions of the Higher Institute of Music. In 2016, they released their first CD album “The Clock” along with former group member Nazir Salameh.

Shortly after the Syrian conflict began in 2011, they faced violence in Damascus where they and their families were at risk from extremist groups and often targeted as musicians. They arranged multiple concerts, some of which had to be cancelled at the last minute due to violent incursions.

Later, the group was encouraged to apply for the Artist Protection Fund, which helps threatened artists continue their work in safe countries. After fulfilling a meticulous application process, the guitarists were finally welcomed to a tenure as fellows-in-residence at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

Now, Gaby Al Botros, Mohammed Mir Mahmoud, and Orwa Al Sharaa are taking a musical message of peace and hope to communities across their new home of Canada.


With a concert ranging from Spanish flamenco to Syrian folk music and blues-infused classical guitar, the trio explores the dynamism of the global landscape. Their tour of musical styles from across the world is an engaging way to break down barriers and foster mutual appreciation between cultures. Orontes showcases the beauty and versatility of guitar, while highlighting varying sounds and rhythms of different cultural traditions.

Expect to draw together in community, as the Orontes Guitarist reveal how music has lifted their spirits in the midst of challenges. Their compelling dialogue invites you to expand your horizons, and reveals fascinating landscapes through story and song.


“Despite all of the bad things that were happening in Damascus, we were able to escape that bad reality by playing music. It was our way of life …. And it actually worked.”

– Orwa Al-Shara’a of the Orontes Trio