Composer and clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and St. Urban music salons have announced a multi-year project that brings Syrian poetry and musical sonorities into the intimate realm of chamber music. Commissioned by St Urban, Azmeh’s Songs for Days to Come is a multi-part song cycle, setting texts of exiled Syrian poets to music composed for quartet of singer, clarinet, cello and piano.
Volume 1 was performed to wide acclaim in 2015 and it’s now available for digital download this November. Songs For Days To Come, Vol.1 features Kinan Azmeh with soprano Dima Orsho, cellist Kinan Abou-Afach and pianist Lenore Davis. The audience will also get to hear original recordings of poets reading their works before their respective song. All of the poets featured are personal friends of Azmeh’s, bringing a further intimacy to this unique work.
Volume 2 of Songs for Days to Come will be performed in 2017 with a recording to follow.
Described as “Intensely Soulful” by the New York Times and “Spellbinding” by the New Yorker, Kinan Azmeh’s utterly distinctive sound across different musical genres has been gaining international recognition. Born in Damascus, he has performed as soloist, chamber musician, improviser, and jazz artist around the world, from Paris’ Opera Bastille to the UN’s General Assembly. He has performed as soloist with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the Knights Orchestra, the Osnabruck Symphony, and the Morgenland Festival Orchestra, to name a few.
In addition to his heavy touring schedule, Azmeh makes time to visit and play music with Syrian children in Jordanian refugee camps. He also performs with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and was featured prominently in the documentary Music of Strangers.
Azmeh’s compositions include several works for solo, orchestra, and chamber groups; film, live illustration, and electronics. His discography includes three albums with his ensemble HEWAR, several soundtracks for film and dance, a duo album with pianist Dinuk Wijeratne, and a recent album with his New York Arabic/Jazz quartet.
Now in its fourth season, the New York chamber music series St Urban has reinvigorated the music salon through daring musical and literary programming, original commissioned works, and outstanding performances in intimate settings, including private homes and the Tenri Cultural Institute. At each salon, St Urban audiences meet and engage in discussions with performers, composers and writers to gain a deeper insight into their works and influences.
St Urban was founded by Lenore Davis who commissioned Azmeh because, “His music is personal, and yet speaks to the entire world. The poetry he has selected and his settings transcend politics. There is a warmth and elevated humaneness pouring out of his performances and his compositions.”