It’s still Ramadan in the Middle East but Europe is gearing up for the summer festival season. Among the more recognizable of them are Glastonbury and Roskilde, two major festivals that happen to be hosting performances by The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians with Damon Albarn (frontman for Blur and Gorillaz), and assorted guests. These guests are an assortment of other Syrian musicians and include the Mideast-based Hip Hop trio of Bu Kolthoum, Malikah and Eslam Jawaad.
Brought together by Africa Express, an organisation that promotes collaboration between African and Western musicians, the travelling group also have performances lined up in Amsterdam, Turkey and the Royal Festival Hall in London, with more dates expected to be added as the tour rolls on.
The musical partnership between Albarn and members of the Syrian Orchestra goes back to 2008, when Albarn and Syrian conductor Issam Rafea performed together at the Damascus Opera House. Later, members of the Syrian National Orchestra would join Gorillaz on some tour dates across the Middle East in 2010. They would also later feature on the Gorillaz track ‘White Flag”.
The summer dates are a reunion then between Albarn and the members of that orchestra, many of whom no longer reside in Syria due to the conflict, including the conductor Rafea. The touring ensemble is comprised of both former and current members of the national orchestra.
Photo credit “Damon Albarn onstage at The Roundhouse London, 2010 with members of The Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music” © Mark Allan via Africa Express.
From the capitals of Europe to the heart of Downtown Cairo where the Rock/Indie troubadour HanyMust will perform at Room Art Space & Cafe on June 23rd. The solo artist who also sings lead vocals for rock outfit Egoz will be accompanied by Yasmine Samy on Violin, Ahmed Hayman on Djembe and Suka on the Oud. Don’t miss it if you’re in town.
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