Program Notes: Home Within
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
7:30 PM | Bing Concert Hall
Kinan Azmeh, creator & composer, clarinet
Kevork Mourad, creator & visual art
Layale Chaker, violin
Shawn Conley, bass
Karen Ouzounian, cello
Issam Rafea, oud
Shane Shanahan, drums/percussion
Generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts
PROGRAM SUBJECT TO CHANGE. Please be considerate of others and turn off all phones, pagers, and watch alarms. Photography and recording of any kind are not permitted. Thank you.
HEALTH AND SAFETY: Masks are no longer required for indoor performances but are strongly recommended.
About the Program
Home Within is an emotional accounting of home in a time of conflict. An audio-visual performance conceived by Syrian composer and clarinetist Kinan Azmeh and Syrian Armenian visual artist Kevork Mourad, the result is an impressionistic reflection on the unity of loss, longing, and the impact of tragedy on our sense of "home." Rather than follow a narrative, the artists document "home" within specific moments in Syria’s recent history, using the counterpoint between image and sound to establish a sense of sustained urgency and continued hope for both their homeland and communities around the world.
Home Within was originally created as a duo commission in response the the Syrian crisis in 2013. Over a decade later, the work is taking on new life as a large-scale collaboration with the Silkroad Ensemble, featuring its creators Kinan Azmeh and Kevork Mourad alongside fellow ensemble artists Layale Chaker (violin), Shawn Conley (bass), Karen Ouzounian (cello), Issam Rafea (oud), and Shane Shanahan (drums/percussion).
About Silkroad Ensemble
As a social-impact organization and home to a Grammy Award-winning musical ensemble, Silkroad works to inspire collaboration in innovative ways that add more equity and justice into the world through the power of the arts.
Yo-Yo Ma conceived Silkroad in 1998, recognizing the historical Silk Road as a model for radical cultural collaboration—for the exchange of ideas, tradition, and innovation across borders. In an innovative experiment, he brought together musicians from the lands of the Silk Road to co-create a musical language founded in difference, thus creating the foundation of Silkroad: both a touring ensemble comprised of world-class musicians from all over the globe and a social-impact organization working to make a positive impact across borders through the arts. Today, under the leadership of Artistic Director Rhiannon Giddens, Silkroad leads social impact initiatives and educational programming alongside the creation of new music by the Grammy Award-winning Silkroad Ensemble. For more information, please visit Silkroad.org.
Creator & Producer | Clarinet
Clarinetist Kinan Azmeh was trained in his native Damascus and is a graduate of New York’s Juilliard School and the City University of New York. He has won international acclaim as a composer, performer, improviser, and recording artist in a wide range of musical genres. His discography includes three albums with his ensemble HEWAR; soundtracks for film and dance; a duo album with pianist Dinuk Wijeratne; and an album with his New York Arabic/Jazz quartet. Azmeh also champions the contemporary music of Syria as artistic director of the Damascus Festival Chamber Music Ensemble.
Creator | Visual Art
Kevork Mourad was born in Kamechli, Syria. Of Armenian origin, he received an MFA from the Yerevan Institute of Fine Arts and now lives and works in New York. His past and current projects include the Cirène project with members of Brooklyn Rider at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the multimedia play Lost Spring (2015) with Anaïs Alexandra Tekerian, at the MuCEM, Gilgamesh (2003) and Home Within (2013) with Kinan Azmeh in Damascus and at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, among others, Lembit Beecher’s I Have No Stories to Tell You, commissioned by Opera Philadelphia, Master Peter’s Puppet Show (2015) with The Knights at Tanglewood, and Barbed Wire (2015), with Issam Rafea, commissioned by The Space, UK.
Lebanese violinist and composer Layale Chaker debuted her musical training at the National Higher Conservatory of Beirut in her native Lebanon. She later pursued her musical studies at Conservatoire de Paris and the Royal Academy of Music in London and her doctoral degree at Ecole des Hautes Etudes in Paris. She has appeared as a soloist, performer, improviser, and composer in concerts, recitals, and projects around Europe, the Middle-East, North and South America, and Asia, with collaborations and commissions with Oxford Orchestra, West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Holland Baroque, Babylon Orchestra, Avignon Festival, Lucerne Festival, National Sawdust, London Jazz Festival, Wigmore Hall, and New World Symphony among others. Chaker is also the founder and leader of Sarafand, with whom she has released the acclaimed album, Inner Rhyme (2019). She is a Ruth Anderson 2017 Competition Prize winner, the recipient of the Royal Academy of Music's 2018 Guinness Award and the Nadia & Lili Boulanger 2019 Scheme, and a finalist of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé 2018 Prize.
Hawaiian born bassist and composer Shawn Conley grew up loving all types of music. This love of diversity of sound developed into a career that straddles many genres. He has been playing with the Silkroad Ensemble for six years and is a member of the Brooklyn-based chamber orchestra, The Knights. Recent projects include Silkroad’s Grammy Award-winning album Sing Me Home, an upcoming release of the Brahms and Beethoven violin concertos with Gil Shaham and The Knights, the world premiere tour of Osvaldo Golijov’s Falling Out of Time, as well as an international tour of the new performance-art piece The Head and the Load created by South African visual artist William Kentridge. As a studio musician, he has performed on multiple soundtracks including True Grit, Moonrise Kingdom, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Vietnam War documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, and the Amazon series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Conley studied at Rice University with Paul Ellison and in Paris, France with Francois Rabbath. Shawn currently splits his time between Brooklyn, NY and Houston, TX with his wife Megan and their son Osian.
Praised for her “radiant” and “expressive” performances (The New York Times), cellist Karen Ouzounian is a winner of the S&R Foundation's 2016 Washington Award and at home in diverse musical settings. She is a founding member of the Aizuri Quartet, which was awarded the Grand Prize at the 2018 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, First Prize at the 2017 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in Japan, and was the String Quartet-in-Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its 2017-18 season. Its debut album, Blueprinting, was released by New Amsterdam Records in 2018. Her commitment to adventurous repertoire and the collaborative process has led to her membership in the Grammy-nominated chamber orchestra A Far Cry, and the critically-acclaimed new music collective counter)induction. She has performed internationally with Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and The Knights, as soloist with the Orlando Philharmonic and Philharmonic Orchestra of Santiago, on tour with Musicians from Marlboro, and in recital at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts. Born to Armenian parents in Toronto, Karen holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees from The Juilliard School, where she was a student of Timothy Eddy.
Percussionist, composer, and arranger Shane Shanahan has combined his studies of drumming traditions from around the world with his background in jazz, rock, and Western art music to create a unique, highly sought-after style. He is one of Silkroad’s inaugural co-artistic directors; has performed with Bobby McFerrin, James Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Philip Glass, Alison Krauss, Chaka Khan, and Deep Purple, among others; and has appeared at the White House, playing for President and First Lady Obama. He frequently hosts workshops and clinics at the world’s leading universities and museums and collaborates actively with the dance, theater, and yoga communities in the New York area, including several stints on Broadway.
An active composer and arranger for Syrian TV and theater, Issam Rafea won the 2010 “Best Composer Award” in the Dubai International Film Festival (Muhr Arab) for his music in the film Matar Ayloul (September Rain). Rafea was Chair of the Arabic Music Department at the High Institute of Music in Damascus and the principal conductor of the Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music from 2003–2013, as well as the co-founder for the contemporary Arabic music groups “Hewar” and “Twais Quartet.” Since then, Rafea has directed the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble at Northern Illinois University School of Music, became an artist-in-residence at Carleton College, presented workshops and performances across the globe, and collaborated with artists like Gao Hong, “Gorillaz,” Fareed Haque, the Syrian National Orchestra, and many more.
Sundays with the St. Lawrence
With the Telegraph String Quartet
Sun, Apr 10 at 2:30 PM | Bing Concert Hall
Wed, Apr 27 at 7:00 PM | Bing Studio