Maya Youssef with Levare String Quartet

Maya Youssef Finding Home

Maya Youssef qanun
Al McSween piano
Elizabeth Nott percussion
Mikele Montolli upright bass

Levare Quartet:
Didier Osindero, Mateus Dandalo violin
Emily Davies viola
Julius Jonušas cello

This event will include an interval and will end at approximately 9.30pm.

Finding Home - Introduction

Maya Youssef’s latest tour Finding Home is a journey through memories and the essence of home both within and without.  The music, deep and visceral, explores the full sonic textures of the qanun and Maya will be accompanied by the same musicians who recorded the album. The music from her latest album of the same name is about finding that place of peace, that place of softness, comfort, and healing which manifests in everyone in a unique way from finding home in nature to the people who make us feel that sense of relief and peace. 

Maya wrote this album during a time of spiritual awakening. Over time she has come to accept the loss of her homeland and in the process of grieving (which she explored in her Album Syrian Dreams in 2018) Maya has found a much greater sense of home in the most spiritual sense. 

‘As any Syrian will tell you, there is this overwhelming sense of loss and an overwhelming sense of grief. Because that world which existed before the war started, despite it naturally having problems, was a beautiful world with a booming economy, artistic scene, film festivals and visiting international artists, Damascus was the third safest city in the world. The loss of that world was heart wrenching and, in a way, steered me towards a universal concept of home. The main trigger that made me create Syrian Dreams was the Syrian war and the loss of my homeland. And it’s only by embarking on that spiritual journey of constant meditation and of finding home within God and within myself that I started to feel consolable and started to feel that I have my own home within me. I felt that the world is my home and humanity is my home. With my latest album I want to take people through a transformative journey, where they land in that place of home for them. No matter how that will look like for each person.’ 

The Finding Home album is supported by Arts Council England and PRS Women Make Music Award. 

Maya Youssef - Biography

One day when she was nine years old, Maya Youssef was on her way to the music institute in her hometown of Damascus. She was reluctantly studying the violin, but a beautiful sound was drifting through the air from a nearby taxi, and it stopped her in the tracks – it was the sound of the qanun. It blew her away, but the taxi driver laughed when Maya told him she was determined to play the instrument. “Girls don’t play qanun.” This was a man’s instrument played only by men. But not anymore.

Now based in the UK, Maya Youssef is hailed as ‘queen of the qanun,’ the 78-stringed Middle Eastern plucked zither. Maya’s intense and thoughtful music is rooted in the Arabic classical tradition but forges pathways into jazz, Western classical and Latin styles. It explores the emotional and healing qualities of music. For her, the act of playing music is the opposite of death and destruction; it is a life- and hope-affirming act and an antidote to what is happening, not only in Syria, but in the whole world.

Her debut album Syrian Dreams, produced by the legendary Joe Boyd, was highly-acclaimed in music press around the world and has led to many awards, performances on prestigious stages such as the BBC Proms and WOMAD and recognition from the British government of her status as an exceptional artistic talent. In perhaps her highest honour, the Year 6 class of Dalmain Primary School in London is named ‘Youssef’ in recognition of her inspirational work.