Music from Syria and Beyond

The evening of October 1st was a pretty magical one. For just the cost of a cup of coffee, my friend Sadaf and I were able to attend a beautiful concert unlike anything I had seen (or rather, heard) before.

The concert was extraordinarily simple, featuring just two performers: Kenan Adnawi on the oud and Tareq Rantisi on percussion. What followed was a two hour period of listening and contemplating.

Music has been a huge part of my life since before my birth - I remember the sounds of Peter Gabriel and Lighthouse Family filling the house. But somehow, even with a father who received his bachelor's at a university in Saudi Arabia and a sister who has collectively spent over two years studying in different parts of the Middle East, I had never listened to any music of that region (save some Egyptian rap my sister sent me videos of on occasion). Therefore it was pretty incredible for my first concert in this genre to feature two very talented musicians from the region.

Although I can't recall the names of the individual songs, their sound stays with me. The highlight was the moment the two musicians transitioned from original pieces to traditional Syrian songs, and members of the audience began to sing along. Music was meant to be shared this way - not in silence, but in togetherness, either with emotions flooding our heads or the words themselves spilling from our mouths, to share in the awe as one.


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