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Maya Youssef

February 23, 2019 @ 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

“Exquisite” “Breathtaking” “Majestic”
The Guardian fRoots BBC Radio 3

Damascus born Maya Youssef is hailed as “queen of the qānūn”, the 78 stringed Middle Eastern plucked zither. She moved to London under the Arts Council’s “exceptional talent” scheme and has played at the Proms and alongside Damon Albarn. When the war started in Syria, writing music was “no longer a choice” and that was the birth of her highly acclaimed debut album Syrian Dreams (produced by the legendary Joe Boyd). For Maya the act of playing music is the opposite of death; it is a life and hope affirming act. For her, music is a healer and an antidote to what is happening not only in Syria, but in the whole world.

The qānūn is a trapezoidal shaped plucked zither used widely in the Middle East and especially in the Arab world and Turkey. The word qānūn translates as (the law). The reason behind this appellation is that the qānūn is the only musical instrument in the oriental takht (traditional Arabic ensemble) that can play all the notes of Arabic scales on open strings. Secondly, the rest of the ensemble depends on the qānūn for setting the pitch and tuning. It is not only regarded as one of the central instruments in the traditional Arabic ensemble, but also the equivalent of the piano according to texts in early 20th century Arab music theory. Across the Arab world the instrument is almost exclusively played by men, except for rare exceptions where the instrument is played by women such as Maya.



February 23, 2019
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm


The Dock Arts Centre
The Dock Arts Centre + Google Map

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