Tag Archives: Syria

Artist Profiles: Wajde Ayub

Wajde Ayub

Wajde Ayub started to sing and play the oud at an early age. He worked for more than 25 years with many of the finest musicians of Aleppo.

A classically trained Syrian mutrib (main vocalist), Wajde Ayub is much-admired for his delightful and impressive renderings of the repertory of Aleppo, one of the eminent cultural centers of the Middle East. This includes wasla, a musical suite that integrates composed and improvised parts; and muwashahat, sung poetry.

Since migrating to the United States in 2017, he has been a leading advocate of Syrian vocal music in his new home. He is enthusiastic about maintaining the ancient musical traditions of Syria – traditions that have been put in danger by the civil war that has ravaged the country.

His performances include layali (melismatic vocalizations) and mawwal (unmetered song). They are suggestive of those of his mentor, the great Sabah Fakhri, and resonate with the musical elation known as tarab, a heightened state of emotion similar to duende in flamenco. His ensemble is composed of a chorus and instrumentalists on ud (lute), violins, cello, nay (flute), qanun (zither), bass, and percussion who are highly respected in the field of Middle Eastern music in the United States.

In addition to performing in the Middle East, he has toured Europe, Latin America and the United States. Ayub was tutored to memorize dozens of classic Arabic compositions, which he performs and improvises during a concert.


Artist Profiles: Ensemble Al Kindi

Ensemble Al Kindi

Ensemble Al Kindi in 1983 by Arab zither (qanun) virtuoso Julien Jalal Eddine Weiss. The ensemble’s intention is to recreate the spirit of dialog and music collaborations that took place in the Ottoman courts of the 17th century. To achieve this, Jalaleddin Weiss brought together musicians from various cultures: Turkey, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Syria, and the United States of America.

In addition to Mr Weiss, Al-Kindi includes Alepo ud player Muhammad Qadri Dalal, Damascus flutist Ziyad Qadi Amin, Egyptian percussionist Adel Shams Eddine (also spelled Adel Shams el-Din), and Iraqi joza player Mohamed Gomar Al-Bawi.

In the company of the best singers from Syria and Iraq, Al-Kindi presents various repertoires of classical songs, both profane and sacred, thus enabling the audience to rediscover the refined, complex musical art of these age-old cultures.

Julien Jalal Eddine Weiss is a Frenchman of Swiss and Alsatian origins. He was born in Paris and converted to the Muslim faith in 1986. He has become an expert on the board zither (qanun), after receiving teaching from masters all over the Arab and Turkish world – in Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. He is both a soloist and accompanist in Al-Kindi Ensemble.

In the concert world, his constant search for Arab vocalists to accompany or record, who are nevertheless unknown in the West, has turned him into a sort of ideal link between two worlds. This connection has become even more solid since he set up home in a 16th century Mameluke palace where he organizes regular music-room concerts in the old traditional style.

He travels constantly all over Europe with his renowned Arabic vocalists – Hussein al-Azami from Iraq, Sabri Moudallal, Omar Sarmini and Adib Daiykh from Aleppo, Shaykh Hamza Shakur from Damascus and Lotfi Bushnak from Tunisia.

In 2001, Julien Jalal Eddine Weiss received the Arts & Letters Award from Catherine Tasca, the Culture French Minister.


The Aleppian Music Room – The Art of Muwashshah, Arabic Classical Chant, with Sabri Moudallal and Omar Sarmini (Le chant du Monde, 1998)
The Whirling Dervishes of Damascus, with Sheikh Hamza Shakkûr (Le chant du Monde, 1999)
The Crusades seen through the eyes of the Orient, with Omar Sarmini (Le chant du Monde, 2001)
Sufi Trance from Aleppo, with Sheikh Habboush (Le chant du Monde, 2003)
Ottoman Fragrances – Arab-Turkish Court Music (Le chant du Monde CMT 5741414.15, 2006)


Zamzama Productions


Artist Profiles: Zein Al-Jundi

Zein Al-Jundi

Zein Al-Jundi was born and raised in Damascus, Syria. She began singing professionally at the early age of five and over the next 12 years became a household name on Syria’s radio and TV channels as well as concert halls.

Upon finishing high school she chose to leave the music world behind and pursue and college education in the US. She attended the University of Texas at Austin where she still resides and received an undergraduate degree in Architecture and completed the coarse work of a masters in Urban Design.

Discovering it was a passion that didn’t die in spite of years of not singing, Zein made the decision to go back to her music which has since taken more of a center stage in her life and what occupies her time.

November of 2004 marked the release of her first CD Traditional Songs from Syria on ARC Music. It was recorded in Cairo, Egypt with Hossam Ramzy producer.

Her CD Sharrafouni was released on her independent label WMD Productions Music. It was recorded mainly in Beirut, Lebanon and in Damascus, Syria as well as Cairo, Egypt with Zein herself as artistic and executive producer. Michel Fadel (of LBC’s Star Academy and world class pianist and composer/arranger) arranged the majority of the songs on the CD.

Ralph El Khoury (of The REG Project) did most of the mixing and sound engineering. Other people Zein was honored to work with on this CD include Tareq Abou Jawdeh, Elia Nasser, Andre Hajj, Tony Ja’ja’, Tony Barrak, Ali Mazbouh, Tony Haddad and more. Sharrafouni is also Zein’s debut as a composer and songwriter.

In addition to her music Zein is also the owner of The Arabic Bazaar & Zein’s Dance Studio that are located in Austin, Texas. The first being an import business and retail store of hand-crafted beautiful treasures from Syria, Egypt and Morocco…..the second is the school where she teaches her bellydance classes.

WMD Productions is the umbrella that covers all of Zein’s projects and the company thru which she produces her events of Arabic music and dance, including her own live music shows, the Arabic Hafleh and Austin’s Arabian Nights.


Traditional Songs from Syria
Songs From Syria (ARC Music, 2004)


Artist Profiles: Waed Bouhassoune

Waed Bouhassoune

Syrian singer and ‘ud player Waed Bouhassoune was born in 1979. She has a voice of such quality that is rarely encountered one of the most famous voices of Arab song of the last thirty years. Her voice immediately brings to mind that of Umm Kalthum or Asmahan but even though she was born in the same town as the latter it can only be Waed’s voice.

Ever since her first audition in Aleppo the specialists (sammaines) immediately recognized her talent: she was symbolically authorized to perform in public in Paris at the Maison des Cultures du Monde and at the Institut du Monde Arabe. Her success was immediate and she was hailed by the press as a revelation.

Returning to Syria, Waed gave a series of concerts notably at the Damascus Opera. In 2006 she was invited to the Festival of Assilah and the Madinah Festival in Tunis before touring France.
In 2010 Waed Bouhassoun moved to Paris.


La voix de l’amour (Institut du Monde Arabe, 2009)
L’âme du luth (Buda Musique, 2014)
La Voix de la passion, with Moslem Rahal (Buda Musique, 2016)


Artist Profiles: Sabah Fakhri

Sabah Fakhri

Sabah Fakhri is one of the foremost master vocalists of the Arab world. He was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1933. His talent was recognized early: he was barely ten when he began performing at event concerts with leading professionals of the time.

Fakhri’s teachers at the Damascus Conservatory were well-known composers Shaykh Ali al-Darwish and Shaykh Umar al-Batsh who worked within the musical tradition of the Mevlevi Sufi order in Syria.

In 1950, Sabah Fakhri was invited to sing with the National Syrian Radio Orchestra where he quickly received critical acclaim for his superb vocal technique and unique silver tonal quality.

Fascinated with the history of Arabic music Fakhri researched diligently into the earliest recording of the major Arab artists. As a result, he has amassed a tremendous repertoire of classical songs. His firm grounding in Arabic poetry and literature has enabled him to document traditional Arabic music in a multi-part audiovisual series titled “Nagham al-Ams” (Tunes of the Past) consisting of numerous vocal compositions in traditional genres.

Known for his superb interpretations of the Andalus-based repertoire so popular in Aleppo. Fakhri’s name has been especially linked to the classical muwashshah. He also performs traditional vocal genres such as qasida, dawr, qadd and the improvisational mawwal. He has performed on hundreds of recordings and has toured North and South America, Western Europe, Russia and Australia. He has received numerous honors and medals in recognition of his artistry and achievements.

Partial discography:

The Legend: Live At Beiteddine Festival (Vol.1)
The Legend: Live At Beiteddine Festival (Vol.2)
Best of Sabah Fakhri Legend
Master of Andalusian Folklore


Artist Profiles: Omar Sermini

Son of Cheikh Mohammed Sermini, Omar Sermini was born in Aleppo in Syria. He studied under the best of master musicians such as Abderahman Moudallal and Nadim Darwish. Omar worked in the field of invocations and enrolled at the Arab Music Institute where he learned to read music and play the ‘ud.

He has taken part in many Arabian festivals: Carthage and El Medina in Tunisia, the Festival de l’Independence in Algeria the Fes Festival in Morocco, the Maison de la Religion in Lebanon and in the Syrian Song Festival. He has also participated in international festivals notably in the Theatre de la Ville in France and in Sao Paulo Brazil.


Artist Profiles: Muhammad Qadri Dalal

Muhammad Qadri Dalal

Muhammad Qadri Dalal was born in Aleppo in 1946. He is a first-class master of the Arabic lute (ud) and is very well-known in his own country. He carries on the traditional Aleppian style for his instrument, a style emanating from the Turkish school aiming at a smooth rounded sound. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the traditional repertory.

He is a member of Al-Kindî Ensemble.


Unwonted Maqamat (Naive/Inedit)


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.


Chants d’extase en Islam (1999)

The Aleppo Suites (Institut Du Monde Arabe)


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


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)