Winner of Germany’s OpusKlassik award in 2019, clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh has been hailed as “intensely soulful” and a “virtuoso” by The New York Times and “spellbinding” by The New Yorker. He has gained international recognition for what the CBC has called his “incredibly rich sound” and distinctive compositional voice across diverse musical genres.
Originally from Damascus, Syria, Mr. Azmeh brings his music to all corners of the world as a soloist, composer, and improvisor. He has appeared at the Opera Bastille, Paris; the Tchaikovsky Grand Hall, Moscow; Carnegie Hall and the UN General Assembly, New York; Royal Albert Hall, London; Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires; the Philharmonie, Berlin; the Library of Congress and the Kennedy Center, Washington DC; the Mozarteum, Salzburg; the Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg; and at the Damascus Opera House’s inaugural concert in 2004.
He has performed with numerous orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, Bavarian Radio Orchestra, Dusseldorf Symphony, West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Qatar Philharmonic, and Syrian Symphony Orchestra, and has shared the stage with such musical luminaries as Yo-Yo Ma, Daniel Barenboim, Marcel Khalife, John McLaughlin, Francois Rabbath, Aynur, and Jivan Gasparian.
Mr. Azmeh’s compositions include several works for solo, chamber, and orchestral music, as well as music for film, live illustration, and electronics. Recent commissions have come from the New York Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, The Knights, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Elbphilharmonie, Apple Hill String Quartet, Quatuor Voce, Brooklyn Rider, Cello Octet Amsterdam, Aizuri Quartet, and Bob Wilson.
An advocate for new music, he has had several concertos dedicated to him by composers including Kareem Roustom, Dia Succari, Dinuk Wijeratne, Zaid Jabri, Saad Haddad, and Guss Janssen, as well as a large number of chamber music works.
In addition to his own Arab-jazz quartet CityBand and his ensemble Hewar, Mr. Azmeh has since 2012 played with the Silk Road Ensemble and is featured as clarinetist and composer on its 2017 Grammy-winning album Sing Me Home.
Kinan Azmeh is a graduate of The Juilliard School, where his teachers included clarinetist Charles Neidich, and earned his doctoral degree in music from the City University of New York in 2013. In his native Syria he studied at Damascus High Institute of Music with Shukry Sahwki, Nicolay Viovanof and Anatoly Moratof, and at Damascus University’s School of Electrical Engineering.
He is currently working on his first opera, scheduled to premiere in Osnabruck, Germany, in June 2022.
The Syrian-born clarinetist and composer has partenered with SAM for soloist engagements and chamber music collaborations in North America.
Yo-Yo Ma, violoncello and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, conducted by Manuel Nawri
Works by Kinan Azmeh, Kareem Roustom, Zaid Jabri, Dia Succari
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