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Interview with Oud Maestros Le Trio Joubran

Le Trio Joubran is an acclaimed ensemble featuring the Joubran brothers: Samir, Wissam and Adnan. The three musicians are oud (Arabic lute) maestros and play a superb fusion of Arabic music and global music influences.

Le Trio Joubran’s most recent recording, The Long March is the number one album on the March 2019 Transglobal World Music Chart. Adnan Joubran talked to World Music Central about the trio and the Long March.

Le Trio Joubran – Photo by Karim Ghattas

What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?

Depth of emotions, is one of the essential elements of our music, Le Trio Joubran do their best to understand why they use a note better than another, how a melody becomes a melody, an image first, a direction, a feeling, and a message, some melodies start with a moment of a life for one of the group, and this develops into a concept, and then a melody.

As composers, we aim to bring back or revive emotions that we human beings began to put a side, unfortunately, media, social media has made us numb, and made us live an illusionary life of strength, beauty, power and glory, which isn’t much of a reflection of reality.

Other musical element such “Improvisation” which we always make sure that the album has, or the performance has, to keep our musicality on alert, and or brotherhood on motion, us improvising means alive, means changing, from concert to another, means discover yourself, and let the other discover you better.

Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

Lately, quiet few! Hard not to mention the career of Paco de Lucia and Keith Jarrett for Adnan, and classical artists such as Abdel Wahab for Samir, and the influence of traditional Arabic singing for Wissam.

In the same time, we all listen to different music, jazz, tango, pop, rock, tango and classical Western and Eastern! I believe one should listen and keep listening to all types of music, we find elements that inspire in every genre of music.

Le Trio Joubran – Photo by Luc Jennepin

How did the ensemble evolve from your first recordings?

The first recording I reckon was experimental in a way that we were trying to see if it works, and it did!

To have three oud players, composers, virtuosos, is a big challenge. We achieved success because we are brothers and we could handle this quiet tough mission well because we allowed ourselves to unveil hidden sides of us, others could like or dislike, but trust, which is another meaning of “brotherhood” could allow this.

At that period, the composition was a secondary target, although today, we have proved to ourselves that it works, that there should be no limit in composition, and there isn’t always a need to prove our technical skills. Today, we stop by the title, and we stop by the message. We make sure that the message is there and the composition should serve it, by complexity, length, directivity, sounds and instruments, and notes.

Le Trio Joubran – The long March

Tell us a little about your new album The Long March.

Two years of discussions and two other years of recordings! Not that it should take that long! But we have been busy touring with previous album, and small projects on the side, such as music for films and important shows, and also because we live apart now, each with his growing family, and each in a different country. We get to meet in tours and discuss and then dedicate a period of recording. But this time has given maturity for the tracks and the ideas.

In this album, we tried to achieve a wider listeners, and introduce the oud to a bigger public, also we tried to introduce new sounds to the listeners of the oud. We have electronics, orchestral, tribal sounds, and vocals. The oud is the singer, and all the other elements support the singer to represent the story.

The body of the album is the poem of Mahmoud Darwish, which says the message of the album. The tracks titles are extracted from this text that is trying to tell this world of industry and world of power, that we are humans. Before and after all, our humanity should remain, despite the reality of wiping it away, and before this power can wipe it away, we will defend everything we have, even our final songs.

We have collaborated with the musical producer Renaud Letang, which an amazing experience, to hand over our baby (composition) and another musician and master of production looks at it and takes the essence of it.

Also we had the privilege to collaborate with Roger Waters for two tracks: one single which we released as a video clip under the title “Supremacy” before the album; and another track, “Carry The Earth” in the album as a dedication to four boys killed on the beach of Gaza by the Israeli forces.

As well with Mohammad Motamdi, an amazing vocalist and singer from Iran; an oriental orchestra from Turkey; as well as a western orchestra from Macedonia; and many other talented musicians!

We have succeeded to color the album. Each title to have a different color and influence, and in the same to have a one message uniting the while tracks.

The three brothers play oud, the Arabic lute. Where did they get the training?

We come from family blended with music and oud making, our father is the third generation in the family who builds the instrument.

Samir, the eldest, had his elder brother the Oud in the house! He studied with a local teacher, and then went to Cairo to learn music.

Wissam started at a young age learning music and violin, and then took the oud as his language as well as studying in Italy (Antonio Stradivari Institute) violin making.

Adnan, had two brothers that are oud players and one father oud maker, so he had no choice to escape this world! Only at the age of 16, he took the instrument in his hands and tried to play, and by the age of 18 he was on stage touring after self-training and listening to his brothers and many other music and musicians.

Who makes your ouds?

Wissam Joubran.

Where are your currently based?

Adnan in London, Samir between Paris and Ramallah, and Wissam in Paris.

Le Trio Joubran – Photo by Louise Feugier.jpg

Do you have any initiatives to transmit Palestinian and Arabic music traditions to new generations?

Of course, in each album we make sure there is a track that is a traditional way of composing and playing, and we make sure the on stage we have one traditional improvisation. Still, there is more initiative for a more dedicated album only for traditional music.

If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with, whom would that be?

Some of them died. Many of them are alive! Hard to mention names, because there are too many! Me, personally, I’d love to play with Keith Jarrett.

Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?

We are very proud of our last album, we have just finished it and glad to share it with you and the rest of the world. There will be soon a very big collaboration with a mainstream artist, but we are not to uncover this surprise now 🙂

More about Le Trio Joubran and its discography.

headline photo: Le Trio Joubran – Photo by Myriam Boulos

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Le Trio Joubran Tops the March 2019 Transglobal World Music Chart

The Long March by Le Trio Joubran is the number one album in the March 2019 Transglobal World Music Chart. Le Trio Joubran features three Palestinian brothers who are ud masters: Samir, Wissam and Adnan.

The March 2019 Chart

  1. Le Trio Joubran – The Long March – Cooking Vinyl
  2. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Miri – Outhere
  3. Urna Chahar-Tugchi featuring Kroke – Ser – Urna Chahar-Tugchi / UCT
  4. Dhafer Youssef – Sounds of Mirrors – Anteprima
  5. Belonoga – Through the Eyes of the Earth – NarRator Records
  6. Vardan Hovanissian & Emre Gültekin – Karin – Muziekpublique
  7. Ukandanz – Yeketelale – Buda Musique
  8. Tartit – Amankor / The Exile – Riverboat / World Music Network
  9. Salif Keita – Un Autre Blanc – Naïve
  10. Rodopi Ensemble – Thraki: Thrace, the Paths of Dionysus – ARC Music
  11. Kel Assouf – Black Tenere – Glitterbeat
  12. Leyla McCalla – The Capitalist Blues – Jazz Village / PIAS
  13. Alfredo Rodríguez & Pedrito Martínez – Duologue – Mack Avenue
  14. Oratnitza – Alter Ethno – Fusion Embassy
  15. Kitka – Evening Star – Diaphonica
  16. Debashish Bhattacharya, Hubert Zemler & Wojtek Traczyk – Joy!Guru – Unzipped Fly
  17. Kelly Thoma – Ama Kopasoun oi Kairoi (As the Winds Die Down) – Kelly Thoma
  18. Moonlight Benjamin – Siltane – Ma Case
  19. Ali Hassan Kuban – From Nubia to Cairo – Piranha
  20. Shooglenifty & Dhun Dhora – Written in Water – Shoogle

More about the chart: www.transglobalwmc.com

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Artist Profiles: Simon Shaheen

Simon Shaheen

Simon Shaheen is one of the most significant Arab musicians, performers, and composers of his generation. His work incorporates and reflects a legacy of Arabic music, while it forges ahead to new frontiers, embracing many different styles in the process. This unique contribution to the world of arts was recognized in 1994 when Shaheen was honored with the prestigious National Heritage Award.

In the 1990s he released four albums of his own: Saltanah (Water Lily Acoustics), Turath (CMP), Taqasim (Lyrichord), and The Music of Mohamed Abdel Wahab (Axiom), while also contributing cuts to producer Bill Laswell’s fusion collective, Hallucination Engine (Island). He arranged and re-recorded the smash remake of the Latin singer Soraya’s song, “I’m Yours,” released on the compilation Desert Roses and Arabian Rhythms.

He has contributed selections to soundtracks for The Sheltering Sky and Malcolm X, among others, and has composed the entire soundtrack for the United Nations-sponsored documentary, For Everyone Everywhere. Broadcast globally in December 1998, this film celebrated the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Human Rights Charter.

But perhaps his greatest success has come with Blue Flame (ARK21, 2001), where he leads his group, Qantara, on a labyrinthine journey through the world of fusion music to discover the heart of the Middle East. With Qantara he also recorded Two Tenors & Qantara: Historic Live Recording of Arabic Masters

Shaheen: Tradition and Creativity – A Heritage without Boundaries

Story by Kay Hardy Campbell (From the ARAMCO WORLD MAGAZINE May/June 1996. Reproduced by courtesy of Aramco World Magazine)

All day the Brooklyn Museum had rung with the rhythms of Arab musicians, the verses of poets and the background buzz of crowds in conversation. So when Simon Shaheen appeared on stage late in the afternoon, the quiet that settled around him was his audience’s way of acknowledging a special maestro. Shaheen ran this fingers through his dark wavy hair, lifted his violin and bow and locked eyes with each of the 16 musicians in his Near Eastern Music Ensemble.

Inspired by the Arab-American music and dance festivals that flourished from the 1930’s to the 1950’s, Shaheen organized last fall’s Mahrajan al-Fan, or festival of art, a weekend extravaganza of Arab-American culture. Booths from Arab restaurants, henna-painting lessons, folk dance, and a show of traditional Arab costumes framed performances by Arab-American musicians, poets, authors, filmmakers, and scholars. They came to Brooklyn from around the country to give visitors and each otheran exciting vision of the Arab cultures of their homelands, from Morocco to the Arabian Peninsula.

But as Simon Shaheen drew his bow into the haunting measures of his best-known composition, “Sama’i Kurd Shaheen,” his role as festival organizer and fundraiser fell away, and the hall was filled with the musical gifts that have made 40-year-old Shaheen one of the brightest, fastest rising stars in Arab music.

Shaheen’s musical journey began, in a sense, even before he was born in Tarshiha, in the Galilee. His family was full of instrumentalists and singers.

My grandfather was the principal singer in the church, and he also sang the classical Arab music repertoire,” he says. Shaheen’s father, Hikmat Shaheen, was a well-known player of the ‘ud the pear-shaped, short-necked, fretless forerunner of the European lute as well as a composer, educator, and founder of two regional orchestras.

At seven Shaheen began eight years of study of western classical music in Haifaby age 12 his father had him help run the orchestra. “I did all the rehearsals and arranged everything, while he supervised,” Shaheen says.

And at night, he says, the family would listen to the radio, where the airwaves were full of great Arab music, for those were the days of the famous Thursday-night broadcasts on Egyptian Radio’s “Voice of the Arabs.” The whole Arab world came to a halt to hear Umm Kalthum sing live full-length concerts to the big orchestral compositions of Riyad al-Sunbati, Mohamed Abdel Wahhab and others.

Umm Kalthum “used to come on the air on the first Thursday of each month,” Shaheen recalls with a smile. “I always remembered much of any new song she sang. The next morning I would hum the introduction and different parts for my father, and he would notate them.”

Shaheen went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in literature and music from the Academy of Music in Jerusalem, where he later taught. Yet “my real education,” he says, “was working with my father.”

Since he came to the United States in 1980 to pursue graduate studies in music, of course Simon Shaheen has made New York City his base for both the preservation of traditional Arab music and the exploration of artistic frontiers. Now, he is increasingly regarded as one of the most dynamic musical links between the Arab world and the West.

A fast-paced concert schedule brings him and the Near Eastern Music Ensemble to stages throughout North America and Europe. He is a master teacher of the ‘ud and violin as well as a popular lecturer. He composes both alone and in collaboration with others. But most important, Shaheen is increasingly looked upon as an inspiration.

He has so much love for Arab music that you cannot escape it,” says ensemble soloist Ghada Ghanim. “Even if you are in the audience or just passing by, his enthusiasm will grab you!”

As a performer on both violin and ‘ud, Shaheen conquers complex phrases with mesmerizing frenzy and caresses others with quiet tenderness. He draws from a deep well of technique, applies it creatively, and metes out expression in deliberately tantalizing measure.

In 1994 Shaheen was awarded one of 11 National Heritage Fellowship Awards for outstanding contributions to traditional music. The New York Daily News has called his interpretations “some of the most sublime Arab music to be heard this side of the Dead Sea.” In February, he played a concert of traditional and original music as part of Lincoln Center’s Great Performers series.

Shaheen “combines technique with feeling,” says ethnomusicologist, composer and performer Ali Jihad Racy (See Aramco World, September/October 1995). “He is the product of two traditions. Conservatory-trained, he has one foot in western classical music, the other at the center of the Arab musical tradition. This is very unusual.”

Shaheen is also a master of taqasim, or improvisations. Arab instrumentalists use taqasim to explore a maqam, a scale or mode, with a series of musical phrases that the performer strings like pearls on a strand of pauses. Shaheen’s improvisations “invoke all the possible wealth of the maqam and rhythm,” says poet and musician Mansour Ajami. In a collaborative 1983 recording titled Taqasim, Shaheen playfully traded improvisation on the ‘ud with Racy on the buzuq, the ‘ud’s long-necked cousin.

Likewise, modal shifts and unexpected rhythmic phrases fill his popular compositions, such as “Sama’i Kurd Shaheen.” The resulting level of invention within traditional form is unrivaled among today’s composers. In its third verse he changes the maqam an astonishing six times, and only at the very last moment does he bring the melody back to kurd, the “home” maqam for which the piece is named. In the last verse, he bursts out of the base 10/8 rhythm, not into the sama’i’s traditional 3/4 or 6/8 closing rhythm, but into what proves to be a thrilling, unusual 7/8.

Shaheen’s traditional arrangements and compositions appear on two recordings. The Music of Mohamed Abdel Wahab is Shaheen’s tribute to the late Egyptian composer and consists largely of Shaheen’s orchestrations of Abdel Wahhab’s music. “Turath” (“Heritage”) is Shaheen’s compilation of classical Arab ensemble music. The Library of Congress named it one of the outstanding traditional recordings of 1992. By late 1995, Shaheen had three further recordings in progress.

Ever since he was a boy, Shaheen’s artistic openness and gregarious personality have propelled him across cultural boundaries, and in New York, he has delighted in the city’s trove of artistic possibilities. “I have preserved my artistry, the traditional Arab and western classical repertoire, in New York,” he says. “At the same time, I’ve been exposed to many ideas. I have met many musicians in New York who have widened my perspective.”

He is one of several jazz artists who make up the experimental fusion group Material, which appears on the Axiom label. Rolling Stone called Material’s 1994 Hallucination Engine. “One groovy om of exhilaration and release.” Shaheen left a strong imprint on the group’s “The Hidden Garden/Naima”, and “Ruins,” both of which blended Arabic vocals and instrumentals with western rock, jazz and classical elements. Another fusion recording, with Indian slide guitarist Vishwa Bhatt and titled Saltanah, is forthcoming on the Water Lily Acoustics label.

As a teacher of students of both Arab and non-Arab backgrounds, Shaheen reaches out to help them grasp the sensibility and structure of Arab music. William Nakhly, the Galilee-born conductor of Boston’s Middle East Orchestra and Chorus, pursuing a doctorate of music in the United States, says that he and many other young Palestinian musicians emulate Shaheen’s ensemble concepts. They collect tapes of his rehearsals and his live performances, he says, to study his work more closely.

“I think Simon is having a great impact,” says Racy. “The culture needs a role model who combines tradition, authenticity and creativity, someone who combines roots with innovation. Simon thinks deeply about his music. He has true sensitivity to it as a culture, as a legacy, as a message, and he is conscious of the importance of this musical message.”

The coming years will no doubt see Shaheen’s work bear further fruit as his global audience widens. Two sold-out concerts in January in Haifa, played in honor of his father, featured his recent compositions, “Long Kurd Shaheen” and “Al Cantra.” His debut in Lebanon, scheduled for this year, will mark the fulfillment of his personal dream to perform, at last, in Beirut.

Beyond recording and composing, Shaheen is exploring the possible foundation of an Arab arts institute in New York. But his greatest hope, he says, is to make music “that people will view as sincere and without boundaries.” Music “should become the heritage, the turath, of whatever community you belong to. For music to be truly successful, it has to be within the realm of turath.”

As Shaheen carries his reinvigorated legacy to a new generation, it is easy to imagine he will reach his goal.

What to Listen For: Simon Shaheen has some advice for those listening to Arab music for the first time. “Think with your voice when you listen to Arab music. It has a linear quality like the voice. Concentrate on its melodies, and listen to how they interact with the rhythm. Arab music is characterized by the use of quarter-tones, which lie between the half-steps of western music. They have a quality that you may not be able to hear at first. Don’t think of them as out-of-tune notes. They are deliberate. The more you listen, the more you will begin to hear them and come to love them, for it is the quarter-tones which distinguish many beautiful maqams in Arabic music.”

What to Listen To:

Taqasim: Art of Improvisation in Arabic Music (Lyrichord LYRCD 7374, 1983)
The Music of Mohamed Abdel Wahab (Axiom/Island Records 846754, 1990)
Turath (Heritage) (CMP Records 3006, 1992)
Hallucination Engine, by Material (Axiom/Island Records 314518-3512, 1994)
Saltanah, with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (Water Lily Acoustics, 1996)

While a seven-year resident of Saudi Arabia, Kay Hardy Campbell wrote for the Arab News and the Saudi Gazette. She lives near Boston, where she plays the ‘ud with the Middle East Orchestra and Chorus.

Simon Shaheen Discography

Taqasim: Art of Improvisation in Arabic Music (Lyrichord, 1983)
The Music of Mohamed Abdel Wahab (Axiom, 1990)
Turath (Heritage) (CMP, 1992)
Hallucination Engine (Axiom/Island Records 314518-3512, 1994)
Saltanah (Water Lily Acoustics, 1996)
Two Tenors & Qantara: Historic Live Recording of Arabic Masters (Ark 21, 2000)
Blue Flame (Ark 21, 2001)

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Artist Profiles: Wissam Joubran

Le Trio Joubran

Wissam Joubran was born in 1983, and was introduced very young to ud by his brother Samir. He attended numerous local and international festivals, among them the Printemps de Palestine, in France in 1997.

He has inherited of his father’s vocation, a stringed-instrument maker master, and is strikingly talented in improvising and creating clever and appropriate transitions between the Arabic Maqams.

Wissam was the first string-instrument maker from the Arabic world to enter the Antonio Stradivari Institute (Italy) in order to bring his knowledge to perfection. Samir and Wissam started to go on tour outside of the Middle East on August 2002, and their reputation never stopped to grow while they performed in Europe, Canada and Brazil.

Discography

Randana (Randana, 2005)
Majaz (Randana, 2007)
À l’ombre des mots (2008)
AsFar, with Dhafer Youssef (2011)
The First Ten Years (2013)

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Artist Profiles: Suhail Khoury

Suhail Khoury

Suhail Khoury’s music is deeply connected with his personal experiences. It talks about freedom, victory, Jerusalem and love. Some of it was composed during Suhail Khoury’s six-month imprisonment in 1988 for producing a tape of music, and is a manifestation of Khoury’s experience in the Israeli jails. One piece talks about the streets of Jerusalem after midnight, which he composed while walking through the streets of the Old City at 2.00a.m in the morning; and another one entitled ‘Ramallah-Jerusalem and vice versa,’ portrays the current situation on the road between Jerusalem and Ramallah, the exhausting daily experience of having to pass through checkpoints, road bumps and countless public transportation vehicles.

Suhail Khoury has collaborated with Ahmad Khatib in arrangements, and Karloma Group.

Discography

Marah (1987)
Marj Ben Amer (1989)
Ashiqa (1995)
Matar (1998)
Al-Fawanees (2004)
Jerusalem After Midnight (2009)

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Artist Profiles: Samir Joubran

Samir Joubran

Samir Joubran was born in 1973 in Nazareth. He is a Palestinian ud virtuoso and graduate of the Abdul-Wahab Conservatory for Eastern Music, Cairo. He is a music teacher and a lecturer about Eastern Music History.

In 1994, Jubran founded the Al’Een Nazareth Group which participated in the Third Arabic Musical Festival in the Opera House in Cairo. He has also participated in various festivals in France and Palestine combining music and poetry.

Since his first appearance in France at the Nuits atypiques festival in Langon in 2002, and the release of his first album Tamaas in February 2003, Samir has unfailingly delighted the public.

The first musician to have received a two-year grant from the International Parliament of Writers (2003 – 2004) in Pontedera, Italy, his recent decision to settle in Europe has provided a platform on which to develop his reputation, touring France, Europe and beyond.

His success at the Cha?non Manquant festival in Figeac brought him a series of concerts in France. His performance at Strictly Mundial 2003 in Marseilles led to engagements at top European festivals including Moers in Germany and Sfinx in Belgium.

In 2004, Samir was selected for the Rideau 2004 project in Montreal, gaining his first opportunity to perform in North America.

Samir performs in duo or trio formations with his younger brothers: Wissam Jubran and Adnan Jubran under Le Trio Joubran.

Discography

Misunderstanding (Dar Productions, 2001)
Tamaas (daquí, 2003)
Randana (2005)
Majaz (2007)
À l’ombre des mots (2008)
Le Dernier VoL, with Chkrrr (2009)
AsFar, with Dhafer Youssef (2011)
The First Ten Years (2013) boxed set of 5 CDs and 1 DVD
The Long March (Cooking Vinyl, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Rim Banna

Rim Banna

Rim Banna was a Palestinian singer born in the city of Nazareth in Galilee. She loved music and singing ever since she was a child. She participated in festivals commemorating Land Day (March 30) as well as in national and political occasions. She also participated in celebrations at schools.

Rim started her artistic life when she was 10 years old. She studied music and singing at the Higher Music Conservatory (Gnesins) in Moscow. She specialized in modern singing and in leading vocal ensembles. She finished the 6-year academic studies and graduated in 1991. During this time, Rim produced two albums of live recordings: Jafra and Your Tears, O Mother.

In 1991 Rim married Leonid Alexeyenko, a musician from Ukraine. Leonid studied music and singing together with Rim at the Higher Music Conservatory in Moscow, where they worked together in music and composing. Currently, they live in the Arab city of Nazareth, the capital of the Galilee.

Rim Banna’s songs were unique first and foremost because she composed most of her songs. She had a special musical method in composing and singing her songs. Her songs were inspired from the heart of the Palestinian People, from its heritage, its history and culture. Her singing and music are also inspired by the rhythms of the desert in the south, by the sea along the long Palestinian coastline, by the beautiful nature and its lovely colors of the flatland and the hills, by the echo between the mountains and the valleys, by the beat of the ancient Canaanite hymns which imitated the sound of the pure water emerging from between the rocks and the singing of the birds in the fields, that do not migrate but stand steadfast just like the blessed olive tree and the stubborn cacti which fill the land of Palestine.

The music and the melodies were inspired by the solidity of the lyric and from a profound feeling of the rhythm of the word. The intermarriage between word and tune take us from the skies of Palestine into the whole world. Her songs express the suffering of the Palestinian People, its dreams and obsessions, its joys, its sadness and its hopes.

The lyrics of the songs were by famous Palestinian poets: Tawfiq Zayyad, Mahmoud Darwish, Samih Al Qasim, Zuhaira Sabbagh, Sidi Harkash and some songs are written by Rim Banna herself. The two artists, Rim Banna and Leonid participate in composing the tunes in a creative and unique way.

Rim Banna’s specialty was the Palestinian genre Tahalil which are children’s bedtime songs. These had been imprisoned inside rooms until Rim sang them and presented them to the audience all over the world. Rim is still the only singer who presents Tahalil.

Rim sang several songs for children which she wrote and composed herself. These songs became widely popular among children especially when presented at Children’s Festivals such as Nawwar Nisan Festival, Farah and Marah Festival, Jericho Winter Festival and Martyrs’ Children Festival.

Rim Banna and Leonid presented the Palestinian traditional song in a modern way both musically and in terms of its performance without destroying the essence of the tune or the beauty of the lyric. Together with her husband, Rim composed music for Palestinian popular lyrics such as popular stories, games and seasons songs. They compose music for these lyrics, which is inspired from Palestinian popular music, ancient Arabic music and also from international music of different nations. Rim Banna’s songs possed a rare continuity from generation to generation which maintains the great heritage of authentic popular art which is rooted deeply and fortifies National belonging.

Rim Banna and Leonid participated in numerous local and International festivals in Egypt, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Czech Republic, Jordan, at the Mediterranean Women Festival in Tunisia, Switzerland, Romania, Denmark and Morocco.

Rim’s songs also played an important role in several film and TV productions, including documentary programs about the Palestinian popular uprising (Intifada) in Palestine.

Rim Banna carried a message and aspires to achieve several goals:
– Upgrading the Arabic Palestinian committed and untraditional song to the level of the international song.
– Upgrading the ability to enjoy popular music and singing to a suitable Arab and international level and liberating the Arab song from negative influences.

Rim Banna died in March 2018 after a ten-year struggle with breast cancer.

Discography:

The Dream (1993)
New Moon (1995)
Mukagha (El-Tufula Center, 1996)
Al-Quds Everlasting (2002)
Krybberom (Kirkelig Kulturverksted, 2003)
The Mirrors Of My Soul (Kirkelig Kulturverksted, 2005)
This Was Not My Story (EMI Music Arabia, 2006)
Seasons Of Violet – Lovesongs From The Palestine (Kirkelig Kulturverksted, 2007)
April Blossoms (Kirkelig Kulturverksted, 2009)
Revelation Of Ecstasy & Rebellion (Kirkelig Kulturverksted, 2013)
Jul På Orkesterplass (Kirkelig Kulturverksted, 2015)
Voice Of Resistance (Kirkelig Kulturverksted, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Oriental Music Ensemble (OME)

The Oriental Music Ensemble (OME) was established by the National Conservatory of Music in Palestine in 1996. It has participated in numerous musical and cultural events locally and abroad.

The music pieces chosen by the group are selected for their artistic meaning and expression. Some of the pieces are so old that their composer is unknown and some are modern, composed by contemporary composers. Other pieces belong to the gypsy and folklore genres.

Every music genre has its own texture and Arabic music has its own texture as well. What characterizes Arabic Music is the Hetrophonic Texture, which is the essence and the soul of Arabic Music and its source of strength. Hetrophonic Texture is the ratio and the interrelationship between the “voices” of the instruments. Western classical musical ensembles play the same note in a direct manner whereas in Arabic music there is musical embellishment which comes down to a discrepancy in the speed of playing music between the different musical instruments. Each musician plays on his own, which contributes to speed differences on one side and to musical intertwining and harmony on the other. Here lies the strength of Arabic Music.

The instruments used by the OME are the same instruments used since hundreds of years. No change whatsoever occurred on them, meaning that no technological change was imposed on them, which make them authentic Arabic music instruments. Therefore, the buzuq is the same buzuq the great Arab musician – Al Farabi – from the 11th century described. No changes have been added to it. The same applies to the nay (Arabic Flute) and the oud (Arabic lute). The instruments are pure oriental instruments and they are locally hand-made by Palestinian music instrument makers.

Musicians:

Khaled Jubran: ud and buzuq
Suhail Khoury: nay and clarinet
Ibrahim Attari: qanun
Habib Shehadeh: ud
Ramzi Bisharaton: percussion

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Artist Profiles: Nizar Rohana

Nizar Rohana

Nizar Rohana is a Palestinian ud player living in the Netherlands. He stands out for bringing together virtuosity within fresh contemporary compositions, while maintaining the ud’s authentic language.

He was born in the village of ‘Isifya on Mount Carmel, near Haifa city, to a father who played ud in communal celebrations. His mother accompanied him on percussion. From a young age, Rohana played music, picking up the ud when he was 13.

After extensive studies in ud performance, composition, and musicology, Rohana immersed himself in developing contemporary ud compositions, taking inspiration from Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and Brahms all the way to Tanburi Cemil Bey, Kemani Tatyus Efendi, Muhammad Al-Qasabji and Muhammad Abdel Wahab.

In 2001 he was awarded a Bachelor of Music and Arts (specialized in ud performance and musicology) from the Arabic Music Department of the Jerusalem Academy for Music and Dance and the Musicology Department of the Hebrew University. For some time he then focused his work on the music of the great Egyptian composer Muhammad Al-Qasabji, completing his Master’s degree in 2006.

Since September 2013, Rohana has been based in The Netherlands, pursuing his PhD in improvisation and composition in solo ud performance at Leiden University Academy for Creative and Performing Arts. He is working under the supervision of Prof. Joep Bor, Prof. Frans De Ruiter and Dr. Anne Van Oostrum, as part of the doctoral program designed for musician-researchers, docARTES.

As a performer, Rohana’s wide-ranging stage experience as a soloist and within groups encompasses playing traditional, modern, experimental, and world music. During the last years, he performed in countries such as Japan, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey and in the USA and Europe, releasing his first album Sard (Narration) in May 2008.

In 2013 he formed his own trio together with Hungarian double bass player Matyas Szandai, and French-Lebanese percussionist Wassim Halal, releasing their debut album Furat (Euphrates) in 2016.

In 2015, Rohana was invited by the acclaimed Dutch bass player Tony Overwater to participate in the music recordings for the IKON documentary series ‘Om de Oude Wereldzee’ (‘Around the Ancient World Sea’), based on the travels of Dutch politician Abraham Kuyper. In 2016, Overwater and Rohana formed the Rohana-Overwater Ensemble together with the Dutch clarinetist Maarten Ornestein; Tunisian violinist and viola d’amore player Jasser Haj Youssef and Jordanian percussionist Nasser Salameh.

Between 2001 and 2007 Rohana was one of the main ud and music theory teachers at the Edward Said National Conservatory in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Bethlehem, and in 2006 he also worked as the deputy for academic affairs.

Discography

Sard (2008)
Furat (Loplop Records, 2016)

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