Maya Youssef & Yasamin Shahhosseini

When she was nine years old Maya Youssef was fascinated by an instrument she heard on the radio of the taxi when she was being driven to her violin lesson. But the taxi driver just said: ‘Forget it! The kanun is a man’s instrument’. That has now changed – thanks to Maya Youssef. At the age of 12 she won the national Syrian competition for the kanun, a box zither with 78 strings. She later moved to Dubai, taught in Maskat/Oman and eventually found a new home in London. It was here that she heard on the news about the war in Syria and was so upset that she took out her kanun to give voice to her feelings – that was the birth of her first ever composition “Syrian Dreams”. Six years later the first CD with her compositions was published by harmonia mundi: a very personal journey through six years of war in Syria, as she herself puts it. For Maya Youssef music is an antidote, it stands for life and the hope for humanity and peace in Syria and for the whole world.

In the second part of the concert Yasamin Shahhosseini, a young oud player from Tehran, will explore new stylistic paths with her instrument. Her improvisations draw their power from tradition and yet they pulsate with the drive of modern life – without being jazz or pop music. After two solo sets, Maya Youssef and Yasamin Shahhosseini will then play together for the very first time.