Adelaide Fringe Review – Adnaan Baraky: Sounds of Syria

I would like to use this review of Adelaide-based Syrian Oud player Adnaan Baraky as an opportunity to make a comment on the multiculturalism debate, and this so called notion of “assimilation”.

A number of years ago I started to learn the Oud with a wonderful teacher in the Western Sydney Turkish community, which culminated in me joining their community orchestra as the token White Anglo-Saxon. I didn’t speak a word of Turkish, I was not a Muslim, I had never been to Middle Eastern country, I knew nothing of the culture – and yet I was welcomed with open arms because of my willingness to cross the cultural bridge halfway on account of my love of the instrument. And I came to learn and love that there is such a thing as a unique Australian Turkish culture, a thing in itself. This was for me represented best in a song composed in Turkish Classical style by my Oud teacher which sang the history of the Australian “Johnnies” and Turkish “Mehmets” fighting on the shores of Gallipoli. “Assimilation” as the critics of multiculturalism would have it, would prevent art such as this from being born in Australia.

During the performance by Adnaan, a highly skilled and creative artist with a learned musical pedigree, he spoke of composing his piece Melodies from the Other Side as the US Forces invaded Afghanistan, written for the dead on both sides of the conflict. He was unable to finish the song. Then when the US invaded Iraq, again he tried to complete the piece but was not able. Finally, after moving to Australia, he was so touched the tragedy of the victims of the Victorian bushfires he was able to finish the song, as if the spirits of the dead were saying to the living “Don’t worry about us, instead, worry about yourselves, for we are in peace”.

This is what is created in the crucible of multiculturalism.

Much of his new music being showcased tonight from his newly released album is born of his migration to Australia, of the search to find a means of expressing his Syrian heritage in the Australian setting. The Blues was not born here, but we are often happy to talk about an Australian Blues scene, and cultural context. Why are we then so hesitant about recognizing Australian-Middle Eastern culture and music, or Australian-African, or Australian-Asian for that matter?

There are songs of geographical dislocation, Ya Balady, of Sufic spirital ecstacy through Union with the Divine, Dinaan and well as traditional dances, Lawha. Through all these works and thematic melodies he conjures amazing taksim (improvisation) that carries one into deep meditative admiration.

Adnaan Baraky will be doing one more performance for the Adelaide Fringe on Sunday 13 March. Attendance would be all the more culturally enriching for you I think, an opportunity to pick up his CD while you are there.

Jonathan Mar 5th 2011 04:08 pm Art,Cabaret,Culture,Events,Music,News,People,Reviews,Style No Comments yet Trackback URI

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