biography

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

Abou-afach has performed as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the Middle East, Asia, Europe and North America with well-known musicians and ensembles such as the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Youssou N’dour, Concertante de Chicago, Chicago Children Choir and the Ducati Piano trio, performing in many of the United States prestigious halls. He can also be heard on many recordings by Las Guitarras de España, the Silk Road Project, The Edwards Hospital Healing Art Program and Anne Harris to name a few. He is currently a member of Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble based in Philadelphia.

Throughout his musical career, Kinan had the privilege to played under conductors like: Solhi Al-Wady, Daniel Barenboim, Cliff Colnot, Christopher Seaman, Roberto Abbado, Sir Andrew Davis, Pinchas Zuckerman, and soloists like Yo Yo Ma, Alex Klein and Larry Combs.

As a composer, Abou-afach crafts music that is influenced by Eastern and Western traditions.  He seeks to create a reformed form of Arab music using a modern vocabulary based on the Arabic modal traditions known as maqam. He has composed for concerts, as well as film, live theatre, and visual art, notably commissions by Live Connections for Grammy award-winner Jason Vieaux, for Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture’s “Roads to Damascus – 2013”, “{De}Perception – 2015”, and “Of Nights and Solace -2015”; for “The Long Night” film directed by Hatem Ali; for Windy Clinard Dance Theatre “Jondo Portraits”, and for a 2014 film “Maskoon – Haunted” by Liwaa Yazigi.