Songs For Days To Come is a collaboration of music and poetry, navigating personal landscapes of home, faith, and friendship in times seemingly bent on shattering these human birthrights. In this multi-year project, composer Kinan Azmeh sets contemporary Syrian poems in chamber music soundscapes that meld Arabic and Western traditions with improvisation and spoken voices.
Commissioned by St Urban, Songs for Days to Come adds another dimension to the chamber music canon and draws listeners through an intimate journey.
The pairing of Azmeh’s music with contemporary poetry of his far-flung compatriots is a reassuring expression of the freedom found in collaboration, art, music and poetry.
“Azmeh’s ear seems acutely attuned to that hidden
but always present stream.”
In 2015, St Urban salons commissioned Kinan Azmeh to compose a song cycle set to texts of his choosing. After much reading and exploring, Azmeh selected 5 poems with whose authors he shared history, friendship and the experience of life as an emigre. These first five poems formed the heart of Songs for Days to Come. Azmeh’s settings for soprano, clarinet, cello and piano explore the emotional and musical vocabulary of the poetry – of home disrupted, of fear, belief, hope. The poets themselves are present in the music, as their recorded voices are heard in each of the 5 settings.
Songs for Days to Come, Vol. 1 features Kinan Azmeh with soprano Dima Orsho, cellist Kinan Abou-Afach, pianist Lenore Davis, and poets Lukman Derky, Mohammad Abou-Laban, Liwaa Yazji, Hazem al-Azmeh, and Adnan Odeh. It was premiered at SubCulture, NYC May, 2016. The recording was released in November, 2017 along with a special performance at Symphony Space.
50% of the Sales will be donated to International Rescue Committee Refugee Youth Summer Academy in NJ
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“Songs For Days To Come has a message and impact beyond the music: The connection to the Syrian poets living in exile; Kinan Azmeh’s place in the world as a Syrian who cannot return home; and our current state of affairs (refugee crisis and attempted immigration bans) all resonate in the background of the melodies and rhythms of Songs For Days To Come.”
“I knew that we could use Kinan’s music for good – and sought a way to have a local and immediate impact on a global crisis. As a result, St Urban is proud to partner with IRC’s Refugee Summer Camp in Elizabeth, NJ which helps newly-arrived children and youth in the wake of crisis adapt to their new country; ease their families’ burdens a bit, and help make the world a little better”
Lenore Davis | St Urban Founder
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic well-being, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 U.S. cities. Learn more about IRC.
IRC’s Refugee Youth Program in New Jersey supports 165 youth enrolled in Elizabeth and Roselle Public Schools. Students in grades K through 12 come from over 15 countries and have relocated to the United States in search of safety from violence and oppression in their home countries. In August 2017, 70 students will participate in IRC’s second NJ Refugee Youth Summer Academy at Kean University’s Human Rights Institute. Through English language enrichment and recreation activities, students thrive in a supportive and healing learning environment. Learn more about IRC’s Refugee Youth Program.
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.”
April 12th 2017 | FROM REFUGEE CAMPS TO SUMMER CAMP
Clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and St Urban Concerts to Support the International Rescue Committee’s Refugee Youth Summer Academy in New Jersey
September 22nd 2016 | SONGS FOR DAYS TO COME, VOL. 1
Kinan Azmeh and St Urban announce a new musical collaboration recording
coming this November
Summer Academy helps refugee children adjust | Usa Today
Summer Academy helps refugee children adjust | My Central Jersey
Summer Academy helps refugee children adjust | Daily Record
A Journey In Words and Music | NY Press
St Urban Presents World Premiere at SubCulture | Broadway World
New Venues New York: St Urban | The Brooklyn Rail