Born in Damascus, Maya Youssef is a virtuoso on the qanun, the magnificent 78-string plucked zither that is at the heart of Arabic music. She combines her extraordinary musical gifts with a generosity of outlook, warmth, humour and optimism. Now based in the UK she released her highly-praised debut album Syrian Dreams last November.
Maya has the ability to evoke very emotional responses from audiences wherever she plays, even from those who have never heard qanun, or much Arabic music before. She performs her own compositions, but also from the Syrian folk tradition and the wider Arabic repertoire, these latter especially provoking heartfelt reaction amongst Arab audiences. Maya is also an educator, with a particular interest in how music can be used as a healing tool, especially for children.
"This album is my personal journey through the seven years of war in Syria. It is a translation of my memories of home and my feelings into music. I see the act of playing music as the opposite of death; it is a life and hope-affirming act. To me music is a healer and an antidote to what is happening, not only in Syria, but across the whole world. I like to think that my music brings people back to humanity and to their heart centres, where no harm can be done to any form of life and where all can exist together in peace”.
Accompanied by Elizabeth Nott on percussion and Barney Morse-Brown on cello
For an additional £20 per head you can enjoy A Taste of the Middle East (vegetarian options available) served in Café in 2. Book in advance through the box office to reserve your table.