Syrian jazz comes to Sweet Briar

| October 2, 2012

Sweet Briar College will present “Kinan Azmeh’s CityBand” at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8 in Memorial Chapel. The concert is part of the College’s 2012-13 Babcock Season.

Tickets go on sale Monday, Oct. 1. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for students and free for children younger than 12 and for members of the Sweet Briar community. Seating is general. To reserve tickets, contact the box office at [email protected] or (434) 381-6120. To order by credit card, visit

Kinan Azmeh. Photo by Omar Basha.

Clarinetist Kinan Azmeh has performed solo and as a composer in Paris, London, Berlin, New York, Moscow and Damascus, Syria. With his New York ensemble, he strives to reach a balance between classical music, jazz and the music of his homeland, Syria. Born in Damascus, Azmeh was the first Arab to win the 1997 Nicolai Rubinstein International Competition in Moscow.

“The music I write is … a reflection on what I have lived ‘musically’ between Damascus and New York — not trying to mix musics, but rather creating something new from my complex musical education and heritage,” Azmeh said in an interview with The Epoch Times in 2008.

Azmeh initially played the violin, but being left-handed caused him to change instruments. “If you play in an orchestra as a left-handed violinist, there is a great chance of poking someone’s eye during a performance,” he told the publication. Ultimately, he chose the clarinet “because I can take it with me wherever I go.”

A former student of Charles Neidich and a graduate of New York’s Juilliard School, as well as the Damascus High Institute of Music, where he studied with Shukry Sahwki, Nicolay Viovanof and Anatoly Moratof, Azmeh also holds a degree from Damascus University’s School of Electrical Engineering. He is currently finishing his doctoral work at the City University of New York.

To learn more about Azmeh and his band, visit


Category: Music, Performing Arts