Tag Archives: Syrian music

Artist Profiles: Hassan Haffar

Hassan Haffar

To sing is to seek oneself and in seeking oneself one finds God. To find God is to find oneself; in finding oneself one loses oneself in Him in the Breath of God and comes at last upon the ultimate truth.”

This text which can be found on the back of Hassan Haffar’s CD cover expresses exactly what the muezzin of the great mosque in Aleppo Syria means: to find truth through song.

The muezzin Hassan Haffar is an expert in his field but also a storyteller and poet. His exceptional voice has brought him fame not only in his native Aleppo but also internationally as can be seen by the success of his CD Chants d’extase en Islam.

Although he is regularly invited abroad with the Munshed Ensemble of Aleppo (the term munshed meaning specialists in songs of praise particularly religious ones) he prefers not to travel a great deal and his performances are infrequent.

Discography:

Chants d’extase en Islam (1999)

The Aleppo Suites (Institut Du Monde Arabe)

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Syrian World and Electronic Music Sensation Omar Souleyman to Perform in New York City

Omar Souleyman, a farmer from Syria who became a popular wedding singer and now an electronic music sensation, is set to perform on Thursday, May 11, 2017 at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City.

To find our more about his biography and discography go to Artist Profiles: Omar Souleyman

8:00 p.m.
(Le) Poisson Rouge
158 Bleecker Street, Manhattan
Tickets: $30 in advance / $35 day of show
www.worldmusicinstitute.org

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Artist Profiles: Omar Souleyman

Omar Souleyman

Omar Souleyman was born in 1966 in a town called Tell Tamer in northeastern Syria and currently lives in Turkey. Omar Souleyman’s sound is based on Dabke, a modern Eastern Mediterranean Arab folk circle dance of probable Canaanite or Phoenician origin.

Souleyman has become a worldwide phenomenon in contemporary world music and electronic music spheres, although he started his career as a wedding singer in Syria. He has released over 500 studio and live albums.

Artists like Björk, Four Tet (who produced his acclaimed album Wenu Wenu), Modeselektor and Gilles Peterson have worked with Souleyman.

Souleyman’s songs were first introduced to Western audiences through the compilation albums on the Sublime Frequencies record label. Since then, he has performed at major music festivals in Europe and North America.

Partial discography:

Highway to Hassake (Sublime Frequencies, 2006)
Dabke 2020 (Sublime Frequencies, 2009)
Jazeera Nights (Sublime Frequencies, 2010)
Haflat Gharbia – The Western Concerts (Sublime Frequencies, 2011)
Leh Jani (Sham Palace, 2011)
Wenu Wenu (Ribbon Music, 2013)
Bahdeni Nami (Monkeytown, 2015)
To Syria with Love (Mad Decent, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Anwar Diab Agha

Anwar Diab Agha

Born in 1947 in Damascus (Syria), ud player, violinist, vocalist and composer Anwar Diab Agha has performed throughout the Middle East and Europe with Sabah Fakhri, Mayada Hinawi, and Firqat Umayya. He was a member of the National Television and Radio Orchestra in Damascus since 1969, and accompanied some of the Arab world’s most famous singers, including Fairouz, Sabah, and Wadi al-Safi.

Anwar Diab Agha is also renowned as a composer, whose works have been performed by many contemporary Arabic singers. He was the leader of Firqat al-Anwar in Damascus.

After moving to Vermont in the United States, Anwar Diab Agha formed Grup Anwar (meaning ‘luminous’ in Arabic) in fall 2011. The group specializes in classical and traditional Arabic music.

Discography:

Syrian Journey: From Damascus to Burlington (2016)

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L&T: Abed Azrie

I will be writing a column on Length & Time in music, in each presenting an album and its strategies that pertain to addressing Length & Time.

It’s only cultural that we each, every human, every mind, has had a personal history with music narrative. What line of text put to music, text that was music, began this condition of yours: you, librarian of an own multicultural Alexandria (metaphor,) looking, searching, browsing, to have heard, felt, even feared, for the what a singer said?

For some, this line of sung text is a poem’s: a poem adapted into song. There are the few whose society have both produced or adhered to the concepts “poem” and “music,” and have combined the two into singing poetry as a tradition. France is well known for this praxis.

Adonis:
Even the wind wants
to become a cart
pulled by butterflies.

Adonis, a Syrian poet living in France, is a brilliant writer of often long poems that are often simple when read.

Abed Azrie is a wonderful Syrian musician and singer now living in France.

Perhaps the two first met in France but their album Abed Azrie chante Adonis, in France language, combines Syrian poetry with singing of Syrian descent into living as according to French culture: a living of “chanson” (text molded into song.)

The songs themselves are not in French and that’s exactly the point: it is Abed Azrie singing Adonis, the great poet, to hopefully satisfy we post modern machines in musical text, in language as music as poetry atop of music.

It’s only correct to have a personal history with musical text in our age of postmodern thoughts even in the most traditional societies, and technologies that have quite simply allowed all revelry, contemplation, in the gardens of musical collections that were one only afforded to owners of music collections.  A garden of becoming and not of identity, for if writer Andre Malraux was right about anything: art is metamorphosis.

Abed Azrie chante Adonis

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