Nabil Arbaain

A Syrian composer and oud player from Damascus. My compositions are inspired by my memories of Syria and how those memories are carried with me throughout my travels. Together with musicians and musical styles from around the world, I have co-founded, composed for and played with bands and orchestras in Damascus, Beirut, Istanbul and more recently, across Europe. Currently based in Berlin, my long-standing passion for the fusion of classical Arabic and Middle Eastern music with other music genres such as Jazz, Flamenco, and Western Classical music continues to find fertile ground.

Since coming to Germany in 2015, I have performed hundreds of concerts in cities around Europe including two tours in Poland that involved Syrian music and poetry. My tours also brought me to Italy, Spain and France with the Syrian Cultural Caravan in 2017. In Germany, I also regularly perform as a soloist and have composed music for the Babylon Orchestra, Wedding Orchestra, Baden-Baden Wind Orchestra and Aananda electronic band.

I have also co-founded four bands in Berlin and currently composes music for them. The first band, Matar, consists of Syrian and German musicians working on merging Middle Eastern Arabic Classical Music and Western Classical music. SINGA, is a Syrian-German music group that infuses jazz music with a Middle Eastern spirit. Naranja, performs Andalusian Music, and the fourth band is “Nabil & Matthias”, a Syrian-German duo balancing Oud solos with Latino rhythms.

I have also worked as a research assistant with Dr Waldo Fabian Garrido from Western Sydney University, on a project called, Music and Migration, focusing on Syrian musicians in Berlin. And now, I am working on a music therapy project with Dr Garrido, Dr Alison Short, and musicologist Zaher Alkaei.

In 2020, I released my first Album “From Damascus to Berlin”. The album is an archaeology of the many unknowns faced during forced migration and how music and memory create a new understanding of connection to place. The songs reflect the geography of my experience on the move, seeking asylum in Europe and the (re-)negotiation of the meaning of home, including traditional Damascene songs as well as a new interpretation of Schubert’s Der Leiermann.

From 2006 to 2012, I managed a Music Production Company in Damascus called, Alkhaimeh (meaning ‘the tent’ in Arabic) which produced music for local musicians and the Damascus Opera House.

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