Oxford Maqam ‘Wax Cylinder Recordings’ Album Launch


Marsm is delighted to present the UK’s premier Arabic ensemble Oxford Maqam and the launch of their first and highly anticipated album: “The Wax Cylinder Recordings”. #WaxCylinderRec

Friday 3 February 2017
Kings Place
90 York Way
London N1 9AG

Doors open 19:30
*This event is sponsored by Alaraby TV Network

Paying tribute to the ‘Nahda’ era, Oxford Maqam embraces the sounds of the Arab Renaissance; an extraordinary period of creativity and musical innovation across the Middle East. Oxford Maqam’s vintage repertoire has gained popularity for its mesmerising recreation of Egyptian and Levantine songs that date from the 19th century to the early cinema era. From local cafés to royal palaces, they offer a lively and highly informed insight into the urban musical cultures prevailing back then. While comprising the traditional takht (Middle Eastern combination of instruments), the ensemble performs in an authentic style with an ear for the improvisatory practices of the time. According to Cairoscene, “with only a handful of acts shedding light on this historically important & musically rich period, Oxford Maqam will sound uniquely fresh”.

In this album, Oxford Maqam recreates the recording experience of popular Egyptian artists at the dawn of recording technology. Therefore all the material (mowashat, devr and mawwal) recorded are straight from the heart of what was then a thriving popular culture. “The Wax Cylinder Recordings” features playful and melancholic melodies, improvisational dexterity, and outstanding interpretations of acclaimed classical poetry.

During the concert, Oxford Maqam will perform a special selection of songs from their new album as well as from their broader repertoire of revived classics. After the concert, the band will join the audience for CD signing. Treat yourself and your loved ones to a slice of 19th century Cairo pop culture, and don’t miss this opportunity to listen to a repertoire now seldom performed.

About Oxford Maqam:

Hailing from various cultural backgrounds, Oxford Maqam has been brought together by their deep appreciation for the music of the Nahda (Renaissance) era, from Cairo to Istanbul. Each year, this highly talented ensemble takes on new projects to explore the boundaries of Eastern Mediterranean and Arab world traditions throughout space and time.

Since 2008, Oxford Maqam have performed on a number of special occasions and in numerous prestigious settings such as the London Jazz Festival and St. Paul’s Cathedral. They were recently invited to perform live at the BBC, and have performed internationally, most recently completing their second tour in Turkey.

About the artists:

Tarik Beshir is a uniquely talented vocalist and student of the style and techniques used in late 19th and early 20th century song in Ottoman Egypt. Gifted with silken tones and a tremendous range, he is one of just a handful who can faithfully recreate the sound of this period of renaissance. He is also a skilled oud player and songwriter with over 20 years of experience. He plays the oud in the Egyptian style with a particular focus on the techniques of the Mohammed Qasabji School.

Philippos Demetriou is a biomedical scientist from Cyprus, currently working on obtaining his PhD at the University of Oxford. Philippos discovered his passion for Cypriot and Greek traditional music through his Greek traditional dance classes. He was a student of Giannos Ioannou (Cypriot drummer) and Konstantinos Kalaitzis (Greek percussionist) on the darabuka and davul before moving on as a self-taught percussionist, trying out his luck on the riq and frame drums. He has since participated in workshops of Vaggelis Karipis, a Greek percussionist, who he refers to as his ‘inspirational idol’ and great teacher. Philippos loves playing Greek, Turkish, Arabic traditional music while at the same time looking into other traditions of Kuwaiti and Iraqi music.

Giles Lewin is a British violinist and bagpiper. He was born in Essex in 1960 or slightly earlier. At Cambridge University he acquired a love of Irish traditional music. In 1987, he became a founding member of the Dufay Collective. He was also a member of the group "Afterhours" (1989–1995). In 2004, Giles became a founding member of Bellowhead. In 2008, he accompanied Maddy Prior at the BBC Electric Proms, and released a solo album: The Armchair Orienteer. He has just released his latest album: Time's Chariot. With Oxford Maqam, Giles has performed as a core and guest musician since 2009. In 1989, he spent several months in Cairo to study Arabic violin under Ashraf Al-Sarki. He is a vocalist and plays fiddle, vielle, rebec, gittern, shawms, recorder, mandolin, pipe and tabor. His most remarkable skills are as a player of the Arabic violin and the single-drone medieval bagpipes.

Malachy O’Neill plays double bass with country-soul band The Knights of Mentis, and with pioneers of Turkabilly The Brickwork Lizards. He was director of Livestock Festival, which combined a programme of World Music with antique and unusual agricultural practices. Malachy’s passion for Middle Eastern music was ignited in 2011, by an overland trip from Uzbekistan to Western China, via Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Yara Salahiddeen is a singer of classical and folkloric Arabic song. Born in the UK, she has explored Arabic culture and language through its music, dance, film and poetry. She developed a passion for the Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese and Iraqi singers of the 1950s and 1960s, and a fascination with Tunisian hadhra and Egyptian tawasheeh. She is currently completing a Master’s programme in Ethnomusicology at SOAS, London, and is interested in Egyptian music of the Nahda era.

Mina Mikhail Salama is a composer and multi-instrumentalist. Mina obtained his Bachelors in Music Education from Alexandria University before going on to teach music in the same faculty. As well as being an experienced multi-instrumentalist and soloist, Mina is also a composer and arranger. Before moving to the UK, Mina spent seven years as Choir coach and Assistant Conductor at the Egyptian Opera House. Now based in the UK, he has joined the Manchester International Roots Orchestra as a soloist. Mina has composed, arranged, and performed in several music albums as well as music for film projects in Egypt, Lebanon, Australia, the UK, the US, and Canada. Mina joins Oxford Maqam as a special guest musician on the ney.

Eric Samothrakis was born in Bordeaux in 1977 and grew up in Athens where he received his formal musical education. He started studying piano in 1983 at Apollonio Athens Conservatory. A decade later, he began learning drums at Nakas Conservatory, and within a few years was performing with various musical bands. In 1996, while studying music therapy in Montpellier, he started playing in a Rebetiko band where he learned the rudiments of Greek, Anatolian and Middle Eastern rhythms. Since 2000, Eric has been mainly focused in developing his compositional skills, leading to the completion of a PhD in musical composition at Bristol University. During these years, he never ceased to perform with fellow musicians from, and occasionally beyond, the Mediterranean coast. More recently, Eric has joined Oxford Maqam as one of their percussionists.

Martin Stokes has been studying and playing Middle Eastern music since the 1980s. His teachers – on various instruments – have included Tunçay Gülersoy, Ibrahim Can, Yavuz Top, Simon Shaheen, Marcel Khalife, George Sawa, Ali Jihad Racy, Issa Boulos, and Maya Youssef. While in America, he founded the University of Chicago's Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, which Issa Boulos directed for many years, and played, with Issa Boulos in Radio Maqam. Since 2012, Martin has been based at King's College, London, where he teaches Ethnomusicology.


Marsm is an events company that promotes the rich and diverse culture of the Arab world across the UK and beyond.
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