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Kinan Azmeh Cityband 

Part of Carnegie Hall’s Voices of Hope festival

Originally Aired: Thursday, April 29, 2021

Liudmila Jeremies


Kinan Azmeh Cityband creates spellbinding music by blending classical and jazz with the sounds of Azmeh’s Syrian homeland. His dark-hued clarinet—called “intensely soulful” by The New York Times—is featured in a special performance of works Azmeh wrote in response to events in Syria, the aftermath of the revolution, and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. The cornerstone of the program is the world premiere of On Resilience, commissioned by Carnegie Hall—a new piece in which Azmeh incorporates audio testimonies from Syrians after 10 years of war and conflict. 

Part of Carnegie Hall’s Voices of Hope festival.

Kinan Azmeh Cityband
Kinan Azmeh, Clarinet
Kyle Sanna, Guitar
John Hadfield, Drums
Josh Myers, Bass

Hailed as a “virtuoso” and “intensely soulful” by the New York Times and “spellbinding” by the New Yorker. Syrian-born, Brooklyn-based genre-bending composer and clarinetist Kinan Azmeh has been touring the globe with great acclaim as a soloist, composer and improviser. He has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Daniel Barenboim, John McLaughlin, and Djivan Gasparian, among others and leads his own bands Hewar and Kinan Azmeh CityBand. He is a Silkroad ensemble artist with whom he won a Grammy in 2016. His recent orchestral album Uneven Sky has won Germany’s OpusKlassik Award in 2019.

Recent commissions include works for the Seattle Symphony, the New York Philharmonic and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

He is a graduate of The Juilliard School, the Damascus High Institute of Music, and Damascus University’s School of Electrical Engineering, Kinan holds a doctorate in music from the City University of New York.

Formed in 2006 in New York City, the Kinan Azmeh CityBand immediately gained recognition for their virtuosic and high energy performance, receiving praise from critics and audiences alike.

With this New York ensemble, Azmeh strives to reach a balance between classical music, jazz, and the music of his homeland, Syria. Azmeh’s expressive clarinet meets Kyle Sanna’s rustic guitar, soaring at times over the dynamic and volatile backdrop of John Hadfield’s percussion and Josh Myers’ double bass. Each band member has come from varied backgrounds to add their personal flair to this ensemble, resulting in a thoroughly exciting and rewarding listening experience.

The quartet has toured the US, France, England, Germany, Holland, Egypt, Lebanon, and Turkey.

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