Maya Youssef – Waltons World Masters

Maya Youssef – Waltons World Masters

Wednesday, 15 August 2018, 8.00pm

Waltons World Masters

‘The act of playing music is the opposite of death, it’s a life- and hope-affirming act. To me, music is my own healer and an antidote to what’s happening, not only in Syria, but in 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.’
– Maya Youssef

National Concert Hall, John Field Room
Wednesday, 15 August 2018 @ 8pm
Tickets €25 from

Maya Youssef Trio
Maya Youssef • Qanun
Barney Morse-Brown • Cello
Elizabeth Nott • Percussion

One day Maya Youssef, aged nine, was on her way to the Sulhi al-Wadi Institute of Music in Damascus, Syria, where she was reluctantly studying the violin. The taxi driver happened to be playing a recording of an instrument that blew her mind: the qanun. When she told him that she was determined to learn it, his response shocked her but kindled a flame: he laughed and said that girls simply did not play the qanun; it was a man’s instrument. Now, Maya Youssef is hailed as ‘queen of the qanun’, a traditional Syrian 78-stringed plucked zither. Except her influences go far beyond Syria and include jazz, fusion, world and western classical music.

Maya later moved to London under the Arts Council’s Exceptional Talent scheme, and she has performed numerous concerts in the UK, including the Proms and alongside Damon Albarn. When the war started in Syria, writing music was ‘no longer a choice’ for her, and that was the birth of her highly acclaimed debut album Syrian Dreams, which she will be performing with her trio.

‘Queen of the qanun’
– BBC Radio 3

‘the music is sure to take possession of you’
– Songlines

‘Immediately noticeable is the cinematic intimacy flowing from Youssef’s hands as they navigate the landscape of her fated instrument like nomads with no other destination than love.’
– RootsWorld

‘Her music may be based on the scales and modes of the traditional Arabic maqam, but there are echoes of everything from jazz to flamenco here, and the backing is equally inventive, with thoughtful cello work from Barney Morse-Brown matched against incisive oud and hand percussion.’
– The Guardian


'Syrian Dreams' album teaser

Maya Youssef quartet Touta

Published on 13 June 2018

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