Returning to Celebrating Syria Festival, Fawaz Baker and his colleagues take us on a magical music journey incorporating different areas of Syria celebrating the richness and diversity of various musical modes (maqams) from these parts.
In this concert, Fawaz Baker, Bassel Hariri, Samir Homsi, Hamsa Mounif, and Adnan Shamdin bring together people and cultures from all over Syria, achieving through music what politics has failed to achieve.
This event is dedicated to Dr Professor Hassan Abbas, who was Celebrating Syria Festival’s keynote speaker in 2019, where he gave an enlightening talk on traditional music before he sadly left us in 2020
Fawaz Baker is a composer, oud player and singer hailing from Aleppo, Syria, and currently residing in Paris. He performs with several ensembles in France and Europe, including his own band. Baker started his career studying with masters of Arabic and Turkish music before training at the Lyon School of Jazz, where he studied improvisation and its possible applications in traditional music.
As a musicologist, Fawaz Baker devoted many years to studying the geometry of intervals in oriental music. A trained architect, he used his knowledge in geometry to develop a new perspective on music. He has also published several articles on the topic and given talks in Syria, Egypt, and across Europe. Baker co-founded the first online portal dedicated to current research on modal music, of which he heads the Middle Eastern section. A former director of the Aleppo Conservatory, Baker continues to teach music and to share his knowledge of this priceless heritage with young musicians, be they in Europe or in the Middle East.
Baker co-founded, and is the artistic director of, Work4Hope; an organisation dedicated to bringing music education to child refugees, with three branches in Lebanon and Jordan. Now in its 4th year, the organisation’s unique schools have proven successful in forging well-rounded musicians who are autonomous upon graduation.
He founded the Fawaz Baker Ensemble with six Syrian musicians last year, giving a memorable performance of ‘Voices of Aleppo’ at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris that showcased Aleppo’s extraordinary musical diversity. The group then toured in Brittany, Cyprus and Frankfurt.
As a composer, recent commissions have included a Quintet for the Paris Chamber Orchestra, and a Quartet for the Jazz Conservatory of Paris, both of which he performed at City Hall to raving audiences. He composed nine pieces for oud and piano which he performed with Jeroen van Vliet in Leiden, Netherlands, in June 2021. Baker was also commissioned to compose a 75 minute concert with the Paris Chamber Orchestra at the Paris Philharmonic in March 2019 .
Bassel Hariri: Born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1986 to a renowned musical family, Bassel started learning the violin at the age of six before he joined the Arab Institute of Music at the age of eight and graduated with honours at the age of fourteen. He has since pursued a self-paced musical career and been a founding member of several musical bands in the Middle East.
In 2018, Bassel co-founded Syrians for Heritage (SIMAT), a Berlin-based cultural association that strives to preserve the Syrian heritage for all Syrians and for the world.
Samir Homsi is a talented percussionist and oud player from Damascus, currently living in Paris. He studied music in Syria and has been part of several music bands over the years. Samir has a unique capacity to skillfully play and manipulate several musical instruments.
Hamsa Mounif: graduated from the conservatory in Damascus, Syria, and she holds a Masters in music performance from ICMP, University of East London. She is an accomplished singer with broad experience of performing both in the Middle East and in Europe having performed at prestigious venues and festivals such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, WOMAD and Glastonbury Festivals, to name a few.
Adnan Shamdin: Growing up in a poor household like many Syrian Kurds, Adnan learnt to play the tanbur after watching his uncle play it, before he started to learn to play other Kurdish string instruments. Living in Qamishli, close to the borders, the music he wrote and performed was influenced by Turkish and Iraqi music. Shamdin was part of the Narin Kurdish Folk Music Band which performed Kurdish music and dance in Syria despite oppression from the regime.
About Celebrating Syria Festival
Building on 4 years of success, culminating in an entirely virtual festival in December 2020, Rethink Rebuild Society persists with its creative mission, showcasing the talent and creativity of Syrian artists in the UK and presenting a truly bright image of Syria and its culture and heritage, an image that has long been neglected amidst the war and the refugee crisis.
The 5th Celebrating Syria Festival will take place from 11-26 March 2022 and will be a hybrid of events held online and in person. It will feature, among other activities, an art exhibition, a theatre performance, live music, films, panel discussions and interactive art workshops, and will end with a family fun day. There will be something for everyone.
The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Distance’, or Masafat مسافات in Arabic, a title that is ‘inspired’ by social distancing measures imposed on us all as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, where isolation and distance became the norm and many people stayed away from loved ones. ‘Distance’ also sums up the experiences of many Syrian and non-Syrian people, forcibly displaced, exiled or refugees around the world as a result of injustice.
With this theme in mind, the festival uses arts and culture to challenge physical, emotional and cultural distance and barriers, bringing people closer to one another, reducing isolation, alienation and marginalisation and reinforcing dialogue and integration in the multicultural society of Manchester and the UK at large.
We are committed to making Celebrating Syria accessible to everyone. For each ticketed event three different prices are available, following the ‘solidarity economy’ approach. The highest price is intended for high waged, the middle price for low and medium waged and the lowest price (always £1) for unwaged. This means you can choose the price that suits you. By choosing a higher price, if you can afford it, you are supporting the festival and enabling lower earners to attend festival events. We base our ticketing structure on trust, so no evidence of income is required. As usual, asylum seekers can attend all events for free. If you require free tickets, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0161 222 9779.
If you have any access needs you want to discuss with us, please call the box office Monday to Friday between 10 – 10pm on 0161 274 0600.
Alternatively, you can email the box office on email@example.com, or get in touch via direct message on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram (@contactmcr on all three platforms).
This festival has been possible through generous funding from Arts Council England