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Clarinetist Kinan Azmeh brings the classical music of Syria to World Cafe Live tonight

 

Kinan Azmeh | photo by Jill Steinberg
Kinan Azmeh | photo by Jill Steinberg

“My personal philosophy is that you make art to experience emotions that you don’t have the luxury of experiencing in real life,” says clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh. In the three years since civil war erupted in his native Syria, there haven’t been many emotions that Azmeh hasn’t experienced. That surfeit led to his taking an entire year off from writing music beginning in March 2011.

“The reason for music disappeared for me,” he says. “There was something by far more major and definitely much bigger than me and the music I make. So I took a step back while I was trying to let it all in.”

Once he was able to take up his pen again, his first new work was “A Sad Morning, Every Morning,” the solo clarinet lament that will open his performance Friday night at World Café Live. “In a time of tragedy, people take a moment of silence at the beginning of an event,” Azmeh says. “For the last few years I’ve been opening every concert of mine with this moment of music.”

The title of the piece reflects Azmeh’s daily experience living in New York, where by the time he wakes up in the morning another day of strife and turmoil is nearly over back home in Damascus. “You turn on the computer first thing when you wake up in the morning in New York and put your hand on your heart, as we say in Arabic, and try to be prepared for the bad news from home. That’s continued for almost three years now.”

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