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Festival of Arabic and Jewish music at The Junction, Cambridge

PUBLISHED: 10:52 26 January 2017

Arab Music Festival

Arab Music Festival


The Ahbab Festival (Ahbab means Lovers in Arabic) returns to Cambridge Junction for Valentine’s weekend with a chance to sample authentic Arabic food in a celebration of Arabic and Jewish music from the Middle East.

On Friday, February 10, Yair Dalal (violin, oud and vocals) joins percussionist Guy Schalom. The concert is inspired by the Jewish musical tradition of the Babylonian heritage in which Yair Dalal grew up, the music of Baghdad and the atmosphere of the desert. The repertoire includes Iraqi Jews’ sacred and secular music and chants from Baghdad and Jerusalem, Jewish Arabic songs from Iraq, some in Aramaic.

Guy’s group Baladi Blues Ensemble were nominated for Best Group in the Songlines Music Awards 2013. Show 8pm. Tickets £11.50.

On Saturday, February 11, there will be Syrian wedding singer, Omar Souleyman who has been propelled to international stardom with his electro-dabke style, and worked with musicians including Damon Albarn. Food from The Wandering Yak. Show 8pm. Tickets £17.

On Sunday, February 12, there is an opera called Two Sisters composed by Alya Al-Sultani, a British-Iraqi soprano and singer of Iraqi folk music. It explores exodus, the decision to stay or to leave. From the exodus of Jewish Arabs decades ago to the current exodus of Syrian refugees. As a child refugee, Alya felt the longing for home in her parents coupled with the relief of safety.

Two Sisters is an opera in one act for two sopranos. The role of Laila is played by Alya. The role of Maya is played by Alice Zawadzki, a British-Polish singer who has a family history of the refugee experience and has been working with refugees for the past two years. They are joined by Arama, an ensemble of Middle Eastern music specialists led by oud player Soufian Saihi and Shirley Smart, a cellist renowned for her improvisation and knowledge of Middle Eastern music. 7.30pm. Tickets £13.50. 01223 511511 or


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