Roads to Damascus

Roads to Damascus

Kinan Abou-afach
Kinan Abou-afach
Frank Carlberg
Shinjoo Cho
Chico Huff
Ziya Tabassian
Bob Garrett
Liwaa Yazji
Adel Samara
Catalog Number: 
#1 097
new classical
new music
Release Date: 
Oct 27, 2023
1 CD
Roads to DamascusiTunes Artist's PageiTunes Album Page
Song TitleTimePrice
2.Collage of Decaying Memories08:38$0.99
3.Adam & Eve06:42$0.99
4.Fire at the Library - Black River08:36$0.99
5.A Prayer05:24$0.99
6.Messenger of War08:15$0.99
7.Will Rise from the Ashes06:53$0.99
One Sheet: 

Damascus. A city of seven gates and seven roads that lead to them. Seven, so from any direction, people could find their way to a place to call home within the ancient walls. Those roads are closed now, and the people have suffered a long war, and sanctions that’s crippling the peoples' lives.

This work is about the city, from ancient times to the present; about the people who fled, and the people who stayed. A reflection of my fragmented memories of those roads and what lies beyond them. Music of love, war, and senseless destruction, ending with the poignant belief that Damascus will one day rise from the ashes.

Road to Damascus tells a story in 7 movements. A play on the 7 layers of history that passed by, the 7 gates/roads of the ancient city of Damascus, and uses one of the 7 musical notes to start each movement, ascending in pitch. The first piece, bidayat (“beginnings” in Arabic) imagines the history of Damascus (or the world for that matter), and the last piece: Will rise from ashes is a hopeful look into the future. The music is built over an electronic tape track, which is a mix between musique concrète, granular synthesized sounds, and field recording from the streets of Damascus, combined with live instruments that oscillate between jazz, improvisation, and Arabic maqam.

Kinan Abou-afach is a cellist, oud player, composer, and recipient of the Pew Fellowship in 2013. The Syrian-born musician began his musical studies at the Arabic Institute of Music in Damascus, where he eventually joined the National Syrian Symphony Orchestra. He holds a Bachelor’s Degrees in cello and oud performance from the Higher Institute of Music in Damascus, and a Master’s Degree in Cello Performance from DePaul University where he studied with Stephen Balderston.

As a composer, described as “a Journey in Sound” and “Phenomenal”, Kinan has written music for the Crossing Choir, Jason Vieaux, and Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture to name a few. He has composed for orchestra, chamber ensembles, soloists, band, as well as for film, theatre, and live visual art.

A special thanks to Innova/ACF, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture for commissioning this work, and to the Arab American National Museum for supporting the production of the recording.