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Music by Wajdi Abu Diab
Poem by Zanoubia Zaher
Soprano Lara Jokhdar
Piano (recording) Liana Haratunian
Piano (Live concert) Betty Salkhanian Kurtian
Cover image by Hoda Hasbini
Cover design by Bachar Hijazi
Recipient of the Culture Resource grant for the 2020 cycle
Published by Dar Annahda
In this album, contemporary music and contemporary poetry, meet together in response to ideas imposed by a complex surreal reality that is impossible to express in a traditional language. so it was a necessity to invent a new language that accommodates all the conflicts and contradictions of that reality. It was a language that combined the power of abstraction in contemporary music, and the extremism of ideas in modern poetry, the authenticity of the Arab musical heritage, and the abundance of expression tools in the classical Arabic language. This album, which is characterised by peculiarity and innovation, was the truest possible expression for the composer and the poet.
This album consists of six Lieder for soprano and piano, which delve into the human conscience and its questions about death and life, and the extent of our courage to accept the idea of death and confront it.
As for music, this work comes in a relevant context with several works I composed and still composing, that play a part in creating a new direction in contemporary music (which differs from European music influenced by Arabic music, or Arabic music that is subjected to the rules of Renaissance music or the so-called classical Arabic music). The base of this new style lies in preserving the Arabic singing and melodies with its wordings, feelings, and interactions, and the use of the Maqam language instead of the Tonal language, and authentic Arabic rhythms instead of the rhythms known in the world of Western opera, and this is the first stage of the composition process.
Then followed by the second stage, and it is the most important stage, which lies in the development of this writing by innovative or acquired methods, to create an Arabic contemporary musical language, that has its own rules and it’s own monodic, harmonic, and rhythmic language, which allows the development of musical and rhythmic texts without falling into the trap of European classical music development, or the Arabic development, which is based on improvisation, division, and simultaneous innovation and creativity.
This work is not an attempt to harmonise the Arabic music, or to Arabize the European music, but rather a new type of musical composition that speaks the language of the era in which we live, which honours and respects the historical, cultural, and artistic heritage of our Arabic and European music, and draws from them what is appropriate for our time, ideas and convictions, to link a bridge between the ancient and the modern, the academic and the popular, and give back some of the lost rights to our classical Arabic, music or literature.
Zanoubia Zaher (Poet)
Born in Az-Zrariyah, South Lebanon, in 1996, Zanoubia Zaher has a BA in Philosophy and Arab Civilisation with a full scholarship, 2017, Saint Joseph University. She completed a Masters in Media and Communication based on her documentary film, At the Light Gate, Saint Joseph University, 2019. She is currently completing her thesis in Philosophy and Poetry at the Lebanese University.
Zaher has interned at various media institutions, such as Al-Safir newspaper. In 2018, she published a poetry collection entitled “The Last Grape Falls First”, Arab Renaissance Publishers, Beirut. In 2019, she co-published a poetry publication entitled Meteorite “Nayzaq”, during the October 17 uprising, with poets Mahmoud Wehbeh and Bassel Al-Amin. In the same year, she was responsible for the cultural page in October 17 Newspaper. Zaher has written articles and poetry in a number of newspapers and cultural periodicals. She has miscellaneous experience in stage acting, screenwriting, and poetry-themed short films.
Lara Jokhadar (Soprano)
Born in Lebanon, Lebanese-Canadian soprano Lara Jokhadar had already obtained a graduate degree in Chemistry from the Lebanese University and became an established science teacher and Life Skills educator before diving deep into the world of Music.
She graduated in classical singing from the Lebanese National Conservatory of Music in 2014 and in Advanced Opera Studies from the Tor Vergata University of Rome in 2018.
She has been traveling regularly to Europe to perfect her career with outstanding figures in numerous master classes; notably with Madame Montserrat Caballé in Spain, Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz in Italy and Simone Alaimo in Italy. In 2017 she has reached the semi-final round in Vox Artis competition for opera singers in Sibiu, Romania.
Lara has appeared in many opera roles on stage, such as “Cecchina” in Piccini’s La Cecchina o La Buona Figliola, at the Ennio Morricone Auditorium in Rome conducted by maestro Gabriele Bonolis, “Countess Almaviva” in Mozart’s Le Nozze Di Figaro, “Fiordiligi” in Cosi Fan Tutte by Mozart as well, and “Lola” in Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana.
To date, her most prestigious role was “Abla” in the Arabic opera “Antar & Abla” by Maroun Al-Rahi, which was performed in Lebanon, Bahrain, and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia conducted by maestro Nayer Nagui. Again with maestro Nagui, she has sung Grieg’s suite Peer Gynt suites at the Bibliotheca Alexandria, Egypt in October 2021.
She has sung under the baton of Austrian maestro Manfred Mussauer as well as maestro Lubnan Baalbaki with the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra in Beirut, and maestro Andre Al Maalouly with the Orpheus Orchestra at the Damascus Opera House in Syria where she has become a recurrent guest artist.
She has sung the role of “Fatima” in Father Khalil Rahme’s premiere of Francesco e il Sultano in November 2021.
She has performed the role of “Abla” again at The Muscat Royal Opera House in May 2019.
Beside her opera performances, Lara is a fervent passionate of pop songs and musical theater/broadway genre. She sings in seven different languages and frequently performs in Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and France.Lara hosts and prepares her own TV show “Les Dames de l’Opera” on Mariam TV channel.
She is a partner and voice teacher at “La Fabbrica – Lebanon” as well as a voice teacher at Philokalia Intitute.She was a vocal coach in the casting team of “The Voice Arabia” talent show 2019.
She was a guest star in music festivals in Alsace, France in the summer of 2016.
Liana Harutyunyan – Pianist (recording)
Liana Harutyunyan was born in Armenia, and started to play the piano at the age of 6. She studied at the music school (7 years, 1988-1995), R.Meliqyan Yerevan State College, class of professor Karine Baghdasaryan (1996-2000), Komitas Yerevan State Conservatory, class of professor Galina Melkumova (2000-2005) where with the same teacher she graduated with her master’s degree in piano performance (2005-2007) as a soloist, chamber musician and accompanist (grade excellent).
She gives many concerts as a soloist, chamber musician in duets, trios, quartets with different instruments (violin, cello, viola, clarinet, flute, trumpet) and with singers.
For many years she is making accompaniment for choirs, Participating in music festivals, master classes in Armenia, Russia, Lebanon.
As a harpsichord player (since 2016) she gives concerts with baroque instruments (recorder, baroque cello, baroque violin).
Since 2012 till 2021 she was a piano professor and accompanist at the Lebanese Higher National Conservatory of Music.
Betty Salkhanian Kourtian – Pianist (release concert)
Betty Salkhanian Kourtian holds two Master’s Degrees, in piano performance from the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music (LNHCM) and in musicology from the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK). Throughout her studies, she has refined her musicality and touch with great masters such as Frank Braley, Victor Bunin, Thomas Rosencrantz and Marco Tezza, among others.
She has performed as a soloist with the Lebanese National Philharmonic Orchestra (conductor: Harout Fazlian) and with the Amman and Cairo Symphonic Orchestras (conductor: Mohammad Uthman Sidiq) in Jerash-Jordan. In 2019, she participated in the opening concert of the first edition of « Les Musicales du Liban » in Paris, first festival in the world dedicated entirely to the works of Lebanese composers. Since 2018, she is collaborating with Lebanese composers and premiering many of their works namely, Rita Ghosn’s « Concertino for two pianos », Charbel Rouhana’s « Trait d’Union », Sevag Derghougassian’s « Devil’s Requiem » and Wajdi Abou Diab’s « Da‘watu Mawten Ila l ‘acha’ ».
Currently, she is a piano professor at the School of Music of the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik and a PhD candidate in musicology at the same university.
In the press
Agenda Cuturel: “WAJDI ABOU DIAB ET LA CRÉATION D’UN LANGAGE MUSICAL INNOVANT” par Md. Zeina Kayali. (read more…)