World premiere of The Syrian Rhapsody by Iyad Rimawi at Expo - GulfToday

World premiere of The Syrian Rhapsody by Iyad Rimawi at Expo


Exploring the Syria Pavilion.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

The Syria Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai and the Syria Trust for Development, announced the premiere of ‘The Syrian Rhapsody by Iyad Rimawi’ on February 7 on the Jubilee Stage in Expo 2020 Dubai. The Syrian Rhapsody created, composed and arranged by renowned Syrian composer, Iyad Rimawi, premiered in a spectacular stage performance by over 100 musicians and singers, conducted by award winning Maestro, Missak Baghboudarian.

The Syrian Rhapsody sheds light on significant periods in musical history. It begins with a rendition of the oldest musical notation known to mankind, the ‘Hymn to Nikkal’, which was discovered on a clay tablet from 1400 CE in Ugarit, Syria. It pulls its audience forward into the era of Syriac chanting, considered to be the earliest form of collective church singing, and from there to the magnificent chanting traditions of Islamic Sufism, to end in a never-heard-before fusion of historical and modern sounds.


Movement by Italian artist Antonio Signorini at Oblong Contemporary

Daniel Craig recalls very funny joke the Queen made at his expense

The Syrian Rhapsody is considered to be the first composition written to celebrate the history of collective singing in Syria, and the world. Its audiences live a unique cultural experience, both musically and visually. The composition speaks to the conviction of the Syrian people that what unites humanity is much more than what divides it, and that commonalities can transcend any wars or conflicts. Rimawi composed his music over the course of nine months. He commented: “The Syrian Rhapsody is an artistic journey that aims to explore the essence of music, which makes it a truly universal language. “Expo 2020 Dubai is the world’s biggest event and with a platform as such, we wanted to present something that the world has never heard before and bring three millennia of Syrian and world music history, together in one great musical show”.

Syrian composer Iyad Rimawi at his best.

The Syrian Rhapsody by him is a part of the cultural programme organised by the Syria Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, in collaboration with the Syria Trust for Development. As a national development organisation, the Trust works on safeguarding and promoting Syria’s cultural identity, and played a leading role in the recent inscription of Al-Qudoud al-Halabiya to UNESCO’s lists last December. Fares Kallas, a member of the board of trustees for the trust, spoke on its involvement in The Syrian Rhapsody: “Syria’s cultural identity is rich and historic; and the Trust is committed to safeguarding and enriching it for future generations.

“Central to our commitment is the recognition that culture can have a positive impact well beyond preservation - and that is why we are delighted to have worked on this project with Iyad Rimawi, which has brought together hundreds of diverse Syrians and their talents.” Ambassador of the Syrian Arab Republic in the United Arab Emirates, and the Commissioner General of the Syria Pavilion in Expo 2020 Dubai, Dr Ghassan Abbas, said that “we wanted our message to the world through Expo 2020 Dubai to be that of unity, harmony and love. “And there is no better expression of this message than music and we are grateful to Expo 2020 Dubai for giving us this platform to share this wonderful work with the world.” The concert was sponsored by Cham Wings as the event’s official carrier.

Rimawi is one of the most famous and influential composers in the Arab world today. He started his career in 1998 as a songwriter and producer for the pioneering Syrian band, Kulna Sawa. Rimawi wrote the lyrics and music for most of Kulna Sawa’s songs and was the main producer for the band’s albums, namely, Safinet Noh (Noah’s Ark) 1998; Shi Jdeed (New Stuff) 1999; Musaique 2004 and Kulna Sawa Radio Station 2009. In 2001, he built his own recording studio (Rimawi Studio), and started composing, arranging, and producing music for the biggest TV series in the contemporary Arab world. Among his most famous works are Maraya 2006; Forgiveness 2011; Rouge 2014; Godfather 2015; Cello 2015; Nadam 2016; Orkidia 2017; Haramlek 2019; Masafet Aman 2019 and Souk Al Harir 2020. His melodic and touching scores, with their unique fusion of oriental and classical elements, combine with modern vibes and band elements, resulting in unforgettable themes. It has gained him his well-deserved reputation as one of the most talented contemporary Arab composers.

He was the first Arab artist to sign with SONY Music Middle East (2012). He released three albums that all hit a peak position in Virgin Megastore charts - Tales from Damascus 2012, Silence in Syria 2016 and Damascus Now 2019. He worked on the last album in a time of disturbance and war in Syria, which is reflected in his music.

He was able to revive spirits and bring smiles to the Syrian people with his 2017 tour of Syria, and his concerts in Dubai (2018, 2020, 2021), as his other events, were sold out. Baghboudarian is the Director of the National Orchestra of Syria and specialist in Eastern music and traditional Armenian music. He was born in Damascus, where he studied music and graduated in Piano and Orchestra Conducting. The Syria Pavilion showcases the rich, Syrian civilisation that has been one of the forces which laid the foundations of the modern world. It still remains its dynamic component but wants to rise again and reclaim its front rank in the world. It was Syria that was home to the first crop, first Alphabet, the first music note and poem.




Related articles