Folk on the Tyne: Folkworks Connections: Maya Youssef & Rachel Newton
Folkworks Connections is a new series that celebrates music from outside of the United Kingdom and encourages collaboration between musicians of different backgrounds and heritage.
In this special performance, virtuoso Syrian qanun player Maya Youssef meets 2017 BBC Radio 2 Folk Musician of the Year, harpist Rachel Newton, in their first performance of a new collaboration.
The Qanun is a traditional Syrian 78 stringed plucked zither. The Arabic word ‘qanun’ translates as ‘The Law’. The reason behind that is that the qanun sets the pitch at traditional ensembles, much as the piano does in western music.
Maya has performed all over the world and is the winner of the Exceptional Talent award which enabled her to migrate to the UK early 2012. She released on her debut album in November 2017 and is researching “Music Healing for Syrian Refugee Children” as her PhD project at SOAS University of London, where she is also teaching the qanun and directing the SOAS Middle Eastern Ensemble. Maya is a regular on the BBC and was featured at the BBC Proms at The Royal Albert Hall amongst other prestigious venues and festivals.
‘The queen of the qanun’ BBC Radio 3
Rachel Newton‘s solo album Here’s My Heart Come Take It was shortlisted for the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award as one of Scotland’s top ten outstanding albums and was described as ‘a beauty’ in the Observer.
Alongside her burgeoning solo career, singer and clarsach player Rachel is a much in demand collaborator. A founding member of The Shee and BBC Radio 2 Folk Award 2017 Best Group The Furrow Collective, she has also been involved in various collaborative projects such as The Elizabethan Session and The Lost Word Spell Songs.
Her most recent album West was recorded in her Grandparents’ croft house in Wester Ross and was described by Songlines as ‘one of her most beautiful albums to date’.
‘Newton has made the leap to a fine solo performer and this album is perhaps her best yet’ **** Telegraph