Kinan Azmeh: Clarinet, Composer Record Release Concert.
Born in Damascus, Kinan Azmeh was the first Arab to win the premier prize at the 1997 Nicolai Rubinstein International Competition, Moscow. A graduate of New York Juilliard school as a student of Charles Neidich, and of both the Damascus High institute of Music where he studied with Shukry Sahwki, Nicolay Viovanof and Anatoly Moratof, and Damascus University School of Electrical Engineering. Kinan earned his doctorate degree in music from the City University of New York in 2013.
Tonight, composer and clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and St Urban music salons announced a multi-year project that brings Syrian poetry and 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 Syrian poets for the quartet of singer and instrumentalists.
This performance features soprano Dima Orsho, cellist Kinan Abou-Afach and pianist Lenore Davis with Kinan Azmeh. The voices of the poets – Lukman Derky, Mohammad Abou-Laban, Hazem Al-Azmeh. Liman Yazji, Adnan Odeh – are heard in recordings of each poem.
5 songs were recorded with the voices of each poet who live in countries all around the world. Soprano Dima Orsho performed each song with grace captivating the audience. Chills were running down my spine. The performance was an awakening message, a new form of art.
It was a superb evening, the mood was quite somber but the audience listened and personal stories resonated with the poems, given the context and time we live in and with all that is going on in our lives and countries. The audience felt very much alive and very hurt at the same time. It was real and you can find out why in the videos and lyrics I post below. Americans are living through interesting times, most of the Middle East is at war, and the entire audience felt the powerful words shake the floors of Symphony Space. The Clarinet and pianist opened the floor by introducing the project to the audience, leaving the floor open after the show for questions and comments.
One of the most interesting comments Azmeh expressed how art production establishes a reality for the creation process where one can create his/her own world synchronously. When an artist performs his/her most valuable piece to the audience, a certain nakedness and vulnerability will open up, creating a beautiful connection between the performer and the listener.
The group also discussed the importance of creating art with realizing what is happening in the outside world and how art is an outlet of expression. Art creates a channel to define the world around us and try to make sense of things. Art draws a depiction of the world-that-could-have-been, a better version or idea of how we establish and perceive life.
Azmeh explains that the best forms of art are produced in the context of realization of the outside world. Art is expressed to depict a better image of how we perceive life. Art is an outlet to define the world we live in.
In a nutshell, I summarized the description of the performance as; chilling, haunting, lovely, creative, new form of art, poetry narrated through song and performance. The composition of performance was intense, very beautiful in an impossibly dramatic way. The value of sentiment was deep during the performance. Themes of home, existence, creation, death, mass-murder, beautiful objects that are broken. Syrian ties are great and existing.