Koenig Kinan Azmeh

Kinan Azmeh / Home Within at the Festival of Cultures in Gdańsk

Interview with Kinan Azmeh

Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh played several concerts during the Salam Syria festival. What does home mean to him, and how can music help?

Interview with Kinan Azmeh

Kinan Azmeh is a renowned clarinetist, composer and improvisor from the Syrian capital of Damascus and currently based in New York City. Along with many other artists, Kinan Azmeh filled the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg with an eclectic mix of oriental sounds, jazz and improvisation during the music festival Salām Syria (16th18th March 2017).

What makes playing at the Elbphilharmonie venue special to you?

"It is a real honor to play at the Elbphilharmonie during its opening season. It gave me great pleasure to premiere one of my new works for cello and clarinet “The Fence, The Rooftop, and the Distant Sea” with cellist Yo-Yo Ma on January 26th, and to return to the hall for the Salām Syria festival to perform with the NDR Big Band, the Syrian Expat Orchestra, Hewar band and guests and my project Home Within. The experience has made me feel very much at home at one of the most exciting and acoustically honest and beautiful halls in the world."

What does home mean to you?

"For some people, home is the place where you have your memories and loved ones. For others, home is the place where you feel most comfortable. For me the definition of home is that it is the place you would like to contribute to without having to justify it."

What would you like to express with your music?

"Had I been able to write what I want to express in my music, then the music won't be needed anymore."

How can music help in times like these?

"For the past six years, I've realized the limitation of art. Sometimes I look at my clarinet and I know that it can never stop a bullet, it cannot feed the hungry, it cannot free a political prisoner and it cannot rebuild a destroyed home. However, I think making music is an act of freedom and inspiration, and it can affect people and motivate them to be proactive."

What are your future plans?

"I am now on tour in the Middle East which will be followed by a tour in the US. I am working on a new clarinet concerto for 2018 and a new work for string quartet and clarinet which will be premiered soon."

Would you like to return to Hamburg one day?

"Needless to say, I would love to come back to Hamburg and play inside that magnificent hall in the future."

Thank you very much, Kinan.

// 27 March 2017 //