R i h a b

Azar

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London-based Syrian oud player

Copyright © 2020 Rihab Azar. All Rights Reserved.

​Rihab was born in the Syrian city, Homs to a musical family. Her father, luthier Samir Azar made her first oud and started teaching her when she was 7 years old.

She continued her musical quest later at the Conservatoire of Damascus and was taught by masters of the oud in Syria including Prof. Askar Ali Akbar, Issam Rafea, Mohamad Osman and Ayman Aljesry.

                                            The influences at the Conservatoire included

                                            Azerbaijani, Arabic, Turkish and Western

                                            classical music which allowed Rihab an

                                            understanding and practice of various genres.

                                            In 2014, She became the first woman oudist to

                                            perform accompanied by the Syrian National

                                            Orchestra for Arabic Music. The same year marked

                                            her graduation and starting as a teacher’s

                                            assistant for music theory subject at the

                                            Conservatoire of Damascus.

                                            Rihab was the oud player of the "Syrian

                                            Female Oriental Takht" from 2006 until 2015,the

                                            year in which she moved to the UK, sponsored by

                                            the Foreign and Common Wealth Office, to study

                                            Music Education at University College London.

                                            Arts Council England recognised her as a musician

                                            of "Exceptional Promise" in December 2016, which

                                            allowed her to continue her professional pursuit

                                            in the UK under the “Migrant Talent” scheme.

                                            Since 2015, Rihab has performed in festivals such

                                            Greenbelt, Journeys International and she debuted

                                            her trio in Wales in September 2017.

                                            Rihab has performed at iconic spaces in the UK                                                and abroad

                                            such as the Barbican, Southbank Centre,King's                                                 Place, Wigmore Hall, Lambeth Palace,St. Paul’s                                                Cathedral,The British Museum, Victoria &                                                      Albert Museum,Imperial War Museum and at The                                                  National Museum of Denmark.

                                            Rihab toured with London Sinfonietta in autumn                                               2018 and she was selected to be amongst the                                                   musicians of the newly-formed "Third Orchestra".

                                            She is touring now with the renowned Stile Antico                                             vocal ensemble in "Songs of Longing and Exile" 

Rihab has contributed as a panelist, practitioner and social advocate to workshops held by Oxford, Cambridge, Westminster Universities and King's College London.

 
 
Cambridge Junction, 2020

Rihab gave a workshop about the oud in collaboration with Woolf Institute and Ahbab Festival. Children and adults listened to the oud, learned about the steps of it's making then made string instruments from recycled containers.

Celtic Connections, Glasgow, 2020

Luke Daniels and Rihab along with guest musician Michael Biggins gave a memorable cross-cultural performance on an evening themed around diverse duo performances

LSO St Luke's, London, Jan 2020

"Songs of Longing and Exile" tour continues in 2020 and returns to London, this time within Baroque at The Edge festival. More dates will follow

V&A Museum, London 2019

Rihab was invited to be on the panel discussing cultural practices in Syria during the war as part of "Culture During Crisis" V&A series

London, The Mosaic Rooms, Nov. 2019

Rihab was invited again to the mosaic rooms to give another demonstration of the oud within Family Fun Series. This time, everyone was hands-on making simple string instruments and experimenting with different sounds!

Copenhagen & Oslo, 2019

Rihab shared the stage with two remarkable musicians from Aleppo, Ibrahim Muslimani who lives in Turkey and Bakri Hemmami who lives in Denmark. The trio gave two memorable concerts inspired by Sufi music and tied into the screenings of documentary film "Wajd". Wajd is a beautiful film featuring three Syrian musicians and their relationship with Sufi music, prior to and after 2011

Traquair House, Scotland, 2019

Rihab was invited back at Beyond Borders Festival Scotland to join World-renowned composer Nigel Osborne for the second year, along with three wonderful women musicians. Osborne gave a presentation and a promenade about music and migration in a rich combination of history and carefully-selected repertoire

Watts Gallery, Surrey, 2019

"Music of the Middle-East" was the title of the sold-out concert Rihab Azar Trio gave at Watts Gallery Artists' Village

Wigmore Hall, London, 2019

"Songs of Longing and Exile" is the name of the concert series by renowned vocal ensemble Stile Antico and Rihab Azar. Premiered in Hove and performed second at Wigmore Hall, London, the collaboration will continue touring in 2020.

Kaleidoscope Quartet, England Tour

Music Memes is a project by English folk singer and multi-instrumentalist Luke Daniels who brought along three other musicians from different traditions to perform on tour in England. Influences included South-African music, Irish, English, Arab, Turkish and Chinese. The project included creating Music Meme App that allows the user to create their own pieces from existing music "memes"

Rihab Azar Trio, Salisbury, 2019

In a fresh collaboration with percussionist Corrina Silvester and bassist Dudley Philips, the trio gave a memorable concert at Salisbury Arts Centre as part of Salisbury International Arts Festival

Cheltenham Jazz Festival, 2019

Rihab demonstrated the oud, some Arabic Maqams and rhythms to a lovely audience. The range of age was fascinating. Children as young as 4 and adults as young as 90 ;)

The Third Orchestra, 2019

In the Orchestra’s first incarnation, 22 innovative music creators from musicians from across world traditions and contemporary music disciplines come together with musical director Peter Wiegold in a week of workshop and performance at the Barbican. The Third Orchestra builds on the innovative cross-cultural work of Club Inégales, with partners Barbican, Serious, Guildhall School and ABRSM, to shine new light on the role that a truly diverse contemporary orchestra can play

St Stephen Walbrook,London, Jan 2019

Debut of new choral pieces by Nick Bicât and Solfa Carlile performed by Cantata Dramatica Soloists, conductor James Potter, with the St Stephen Walbrook Community Choir and dancers from Middlesex University.

London, Liverpool 2018

Commissioned by Dare Festival, London and DaDaFest, Liverpool, All at Sea – is a creative collaboration between visual and performance artist Rachel Gadsden and composer Freddie Meyers featuring renowned Syrian oud player Rihab Azar. The artistic enquiry focuses on the plight of refugees who have settled in the UK, Germany and Jordan.

On tour with London Sinfonietta

"Passion" by Pascal Dusapin, a collaboration between Music Theatre Wales, National Dance Company Wales and London Sinfonietta. Rihab played the haunting oud part in this dance-opera.

Helsinki, Finland Nov 2018

Rihab was invited by Al-Teslim group for a shared performance celebrating the group's 30th anniversary within Etnosoi festival in Helsinki

Southbank Centre, October 2018

Rihab Opened the concert of Yazz Ahmed with a rich, diverse set from different Middle-Eastern and North African countries. The event was part of Southbank programme: Women in Music

Kenilworth Arts Festival 2018

After a record speed sell out of original venue, Rihab, accompanied by Jamal Alsakka on percussion, performed at the beautiful Abbey Hill United Reformed Church in an unforgettable first concert for them in Kenilworth.

Traquair House,Edinburgh,August 2018

As part of Beyond Borders International Festival in Scotland, Rihab and three musicians from different backgrounds were invited by renowned composer Nigel Osborne to demonstrate their instruments and musical backgrounds in relation to the "healing powers of music". The guests enjoyed a magical audio-visual tour at the fascinating Traquair House where each musician played their instrument in one of the breathtaking historical rooms of the oldest continually-inhabited residence in Scotland

Southbank Centre, London 2018

Rihab celebrated her Master's Degree in Music Education studied at The Institute of Education, UCL with the class of 2018. Such a special day concluding a challenging yet thrilling journey of inspiration, insight and empowerment.

St. Pancras Church, Chichester, 2018

Zamaan Trio gave a memorable performance of Middle-Eastern Music as part of Amici Concert Series and the Festival of Chichester

Cumberland Lodge, London, June 2018

Rihab shared an intimate, unique performance of Arabic music with renowned Palestinian publisher and Musician Michel Mouchabeck for the annual summer meeting of Motovun Group of International Publishers.

Willen Lake, Milton Keynes, June 2018

Rihab held a one-day workshop in Arabic music at Shenley Brook End for a number of musician-students and produced a performance that was played at Art in the Park Festival on 30th June. Photo credit: Shenley Brook End

King's College, London, June 2018

Rihab was invited to perform on the second day of the annual conference of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES)

Sofar Sounds, Manchester, June 2018

Sofar Sounds Manchester, Amnesty UK and Help Refugees put together an unforgettable secret, intimate gig in Manchester. Photo credit: Sofar Manchester

Symphony Hall, Birmingham,June 2018

"A very special Musical Picnic, as we welcome families new to Birmingham from around the world to the city and to Symphony Hall as part of Refugee Week, celebrating the incredible music and culture of countries from Syria to Bangladesh, and marking Birmingham as a City of Sanctuary". Photo by Mike Gutteridge

We Work, London, June 2018

"The day after World Refugee Day, UNHCR teamed up with the office space provider WeWork for two events related to refugees[...] A packed room of guests were introduced to the talents and cultural contributions of refugees. Guests enjoyed beautiful oud playing from Rihab Azar from the London Syrian Ensemble, while trying a tempting selection of tasty refugee-made food" Photo credit: WeWork

Bridgend, June 2018

Rihab toured 5 schools in Bridgend to showcase her instrument, the oud, and give a presentation about Syrian culture. This tour was part of an ongoing programme at these schools to enrich the understanding of other cultures and become "schools of sanctuary"

Mansfield College, Oxford 2018

Rihab performed in the opening of The Bonavero Institute of Human Rights and the Hands Building By Mr Kofi Annan Former Secretary-General of the United Nations (1997-2006)

The Spirit of Music Festival

Zamaan Trio gave an exciting performance in Liss and celebrated the warmth of the community there that has welcomed Syrian families and made them feel at home. In the concert, Rihab introduced a fun way for non-Syrian audience members to discover their hidden talents to sing in Arabic along with their Syrian neighbours, which made the event so special and unforgettable!

Music and Memory, Oxford Uni., 2018

This workshop brought together musicians and scholars to elicit the distinct contribution of music to commemoration and healing. Panellists: Peter Grant (Senior Fellow in Grantmaking, Philanthropy and Social Investment, Cass Business School); Laura Hassler (Director, Musicians Without Borders); Rihab Azar (Musician and Performer (oud); MA in Music Education UCL); Chair: Dr Kate Kennedy (Weinrebe Research Fellow in Life-Writing, Oxford Centre for Life-Writing)

The British Museum April 2018

The UK Launch of The Relief Centre

The National Museum of Denmark 2018

Rihab was invited by the Syrian Cultural Institute in Denmark for an event about the Syrian city, Homs, where she was born. The event took place at the National Museum of Denmark and included poetry, talks about the history of the city and its civil society movements. Rihab played a special programme for the event by classical musicians from the city of Homs.

Syriske Kulturcafé, Copenhagen

Invited by the Syrian Cultural Institute in Denmark, Rihab Azar and Bakri Hemmami debuted their collaboration performing gems from the classical Syrian and Arabic musical repertoire. Bakri Hemmami is a Denmark-based singer and percussionist from Aleppo, Syria

Union Chapel, London, February 2018

With her oud only, Rihab opened the concert of The Barr Brothers, folk rock band coming from Canada, playing a sold-out concert in London while on tour

Union Chapel,London,January2018

As part of "The Power of Words", an evening in recognition of Holocaust Memorial Day

SOAS, London, January 2018

Celebrating Arabic language at Brunei Gallery, SOAS, University of London. Arranged by Centre of Islamic Studies at SOAS

BBC World Service New Year's Special

"Rihab Azar, a classical oud player from Syria, Yasmin Kadi, an Afrobeat singer from Sierra Leone, and Tabrae, an underground hip-hop artist from Iran, are three talented, young musicians forced to leave their home countries. With some help from award winning music producer Chad Hobson, the three come together for a Cultural Frontline special, not only to share their experiences, but to write an original piece of music to tell their collective story".

St. Paul's Cathedral,London Dec.2017

More than 1,500 people affected in various ways by the Grenfell Fire have come together, to remember the tragic events of the day of the fire and the 71 lives lost. Also at the service were The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Prime Minister and Mayor of London. Rihab played the oud before and after a pre-recorded sound montage of anonymous voices from the Grenfell community, describing their experience and the aftermath.

Brighton, December 2017

"The Unheard World" second showcase. An innovating, Arts-council-England funded project by Audiovisability, combining the hearing and the deaf cultures around the theme of belonging

St Paul's, London, November 2017

Firefly International Gala. Fundraising to support locally-led education in countries affected by war

Oxfam GB, London, November 2017

Invited for the second time by Oxfam GB to a secret supper club demonstrating their work in Arab and other countries

Arlington Arts Centre, October 2017

The Unheard World is a 6 month R&D exploring the experience of migration, displacement and language from a cultural and Deaf perspective

Music for British Sign Language

This is a true story of a 6 year old deaf refugee who had to flee Iraq with his family. Story written and told by Layla Fitzgerald-Woolfe in British Sign Language Music composed by Ruth Montgomery Performed by Rihab Azar, Syrian oud player Black and White photographs by Stephen Iliffe Supported by Drip Media www.Audiovisability.com 2017 The Unheard World Funded by Arts Council England, The Arab British Centre and Decibels Year of Sound Music, Visual arts and Sign Language

Lambeth Palace September 2017

Performing for Making Light project. Photo taken by the amazing Lyse Doucet, BBC's Chief International Correspondent.

Llanelli, Wales September 2017

Zamaan Trio gave its debut performance at Theatrau Sir Gar in a double-bill concert featuring Adwaith band and Rihab. The event was organised by Syria Sir Gar.

Kettering, August 2017

Duo Zamaan (Rihab Azar & Jamal Alsakka) performing at Said Foundation's Amal space at Greenbelt Festival 2017

Leicester, August 2017

Duo Zamaan at Journeys Festival International

Manchester, July 2017

Rihab Azar & Jamal Alsakka launched Celebrating Syria Festival 2017 organized by Rethink, Rebuild Society.

Apple Tree House CBeebies 2017

Contributing with an oud part to the music of "Glamping" episode, Apple tree house BBC kids' show.

BBC Radio3, May 2017

"World on 3" with Lopa Kothari featured Rihab Azar in the BBCintroducing section

Institut Francias, London, May 2017

An evening of literature and music within "Beyond Words Festival" for French Literature. A collaboration with Story-teller Alia Alzougbi reading extracts from "Compass" by Mathias Enard.

British Library, London April 2017

Accompanying Sahana Pajpaie at The Knowledge Centre, the British Library celebrating the Bengali New Year, curated by the ‘Two Centuries of Indian Print’ (2CIP- Bengali) project.

Sadler's Wells, London, April 2017

Contributing to the soundtrack of "Requiem for Aleppo", dance production by David Cazalet and Jason Mabana, aiming at fundraising for Techfugees and Syria Relief charity organisations.

The Vinyl Factory,London,March 2017

This event "One Night in Za'atari" was arranged by Oxfam to introduce aspects of life in Za'atari refugee camp, where thousands of displaced Syrians live. Oxfam also featured its humanitarian ongoing work there. My participation aimed at introducing a cultural aspect from Syria which is music

The Ismaili Centre,London,March 2017

I had the pleasure of playing at this special cultural platform for a full house accompanied by Mr. Jamal Al-Sakka from Syria

London, January 2017

A Very special and intimate oud night at ALEF Bookstores for the second time. The event sold out by the fifth day of promoting it.

London, November 2016

BBC-Arabic coverage of my performance at The Royal Albert Hall within Nour Festival

London, November 2016

Performing as part of the events of "Nour Festival" for 2016, The Royal Albert Hall. The place was fully-booked three weeks before the performance

"Oud Migrations", October 2016

Interview with researcher Rachel Beckles Willson about my experience as a performer and teacher. This was the opening of Oud Migrations' strand about female oud players

London, May 2016

"Sounds from Beirut to Damascus" sponsored by "Arts Canteen". The Courtyard Theatre

Richmond, June 2016

"Refugees Welcome in Richmond" The aim of the event was to celebrate Syrian culture, raise awareness of what’s been going on in Syria, and gather support to provide people fleeing the war with homes in the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames.

London, March 2016

Oud Night at ALEF Bookstore in collaboration with Taqasim Music School

Damascus, 2014

With The National Orchestra for Arabic Music- The Opera House

Damascus, 2014

Practicing in the yard of The Conservatoire, days before my solo performance with the National Orchestra for Arabic Music. Stressful but precious times! Photo Credit: Mahmoud Al-Zafari

Damascus, 2011

The Syrian Female Oriental Takht at The Opera House

Rihab & Lavalu 2013

"After making acquaintance with SPIJKERROK and the musical options available, Rihab chose to contribute an oud part to a Lavalu song on the recently released album Fighting Wildfires. The two women communicated by email and Skype through a shaky internet connection, discussing how they could best include the oud on 'When it's over'. At one point the bombs falling on Damascus were clearly audible in an Arnhem living room."

Muscat, 2012

At The Royal Opera House with the Syrian Female Oriental Takht and other ensembles

Damascus, 2012

Distinguished students' concert at the Opera House

Homs, 1990

Early curiosity about the oud! My home city

Celtic Connections, Glasgow, 2020

Luke Daniels and Rihab along with guest musician Michael Biggins gave a memorable cross-cultural performance on an evening themed around diverse duo performances

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