Artist Profiles: Ilyes

Ilyes is a singer, pianist, composer and arranger from Algeria. He was born in 1972 in Batna’s mountains. He started to appear at the age of 12 as a singer, during parties and weddings where he was singing the Berber and Arab Andalusian repertoires.

At the age of 15, he entered the academy of music in Batna to learn the Western classical instruments (cello, piano and composition). Quickly, Ilyes made himself known as a prolific creator. He quickly became the director of Batna’s philharmonic orchestra, which associated 40 musicians into an original project of harmonization and re-interpretation of Chawi (Chaoui) traditional repertoire. This orchestra would cut across the Arab and Muslim world (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, etc.). At the same time, Ilyes started a collaboration with the French composer and arranger Serge Folie, and they are still working together to make Ilyes’ music more and more universally understood.

In 1998, Ilyes left Algeria and chose to settle in Lyon (France). In a very short time, he created an orchestra with 6 to 19 musicians, choosing to play mainly with French musicians with a purpose of fusion.

Since he arrived to France, Ilyes conquered the audience of many prestigious stages (Auditorium of Lyon, Opera of Lyon, and different French theaters) achieving one of his most beloved dreams, which was to present his own repertoire, inspired by the Chawi (Chaoui) and the Aures: the traditional style of the Eastern mountains, mixed up with the classical music culture and a modern sound approach. Ilyes tackles the contemporary themes of the Algerian situation, a mix of hope and suppressed anger.


Ilyes & Batna’s Musical Ensemble (1998)
Voyageur (2004)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.


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