Sufi tradition and the music therein, is vital to the cultural legacy of Western Asia. A number of contemporary artists uphold its importance and some, like the enchanting Syrian vocalist Bachar Zarkan, also lovingly reinterpret it.
In his newly commissioned concert series, Zarkan turns to this spiritual branch within Islam, concerning the nature of humanity and presence of divine love in the world, developing its established qualities with contemporary poetry. The works of Ibn Arabi, an Arab-Andalusian poet and scholar whose life spanned the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, sit alongside those of Palestinian Mahmoud Darwish–a man regarded as one of the middle East’s most influential contemporary poets.
Zarkan’s remarkable diction and impeccable control are a joy to behold. His abilities can be placed into theoretical terms, but the emotional connection he can make to the listener is something more significant. Concert promoters MARSM describe his show as ‘a fascinating new commission,’ adding that ‘Bachar has been to us, one of the most fitting artists to take up this role.’
Syrian composer and multi-instrumentalist Louai Alhenawi leads the new, eight-piece ensemble accompanying Zarkan. His experience with the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra and National Arabic Orchestra—playing an Arabic woodwind instrument named the ney—suitably equip him for the task. His fellow musicians are also remarkable talents: percussionist Jamal Alsakka having taught at European institutions, Damascus Conservatoire and authored a book on traditional rhythms in Arabic and Turkish music and Sanaa Wahbah, a former Syrian National Symphony Orchestra member and current London Syrian Ensemble member.
The works on show span history and geography, placing traditional ideas within a contemporary frame. We’re incredible excited to hear what the musicians have to offer and recommend you pick up tickets for the concert, taking place on Sunday 8th July, here.
Bachar Zarkan (lead vocals)
Alcyona Mick (piano)
Salar Asid (violin)
Louai Alhenawi (ney)
Lena Shahen (backing vocals)
Hala Arsalan (backing vocals)
Jamal Alsakka (percussion)
Fajer Alabdalla (bass)
Sanaa Wahbah (qanun)
This event is organised by Arabic events company MARSM UK & Rethink Rebuild Society, a Manchester-based charity that works towards improving the lives of refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants, in particular but not exclusively Syrians in the UK, helping them become positively established within British society.
Photo: Yousef Lawad