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Arab Christmas



Experience the atmosphere of Christmas in the Arab world as St Martin-in-the-Fields resounds with Syriac, Coptic and Byzantine chants, harking back to the time of Queen Zanubia’s Palmyra in the second century CE. The acclaimed singer and broadcaster Reem Kelani will lead the evening as compere.



Internationally acclaimed singer, musician and broadcaster Reem Kelani is recognised as one of the most enthralling and innovative performers of Palestinian and Arabic music.

Half-Coptic Egyptian, half-German singer and composer, Merit Ariane Stephanos draws on Arabic classical and Western contemporary influences in her music and is passionate about exploring a dialogue between both cultures. In 2012, supported by a Finzi Trust Scholarship, Merit went on a three month trip to Lebanon to research Arab Christian chants.

The senior Melkite Greek Catholic priest in Britain,Shafiq Abouzayd, has been a priest at the Maronite Church since 1987. Of joint Lebanese and British nationality, Rev Dr Abouzayd studied Aramaic-Syriac and Arabic at the monastery of the Lebanese Maronite Missionaries in Jounieh and is currently the director for the Aram Centre for Syro Mespotoamian Studies at Oxford University.

A performer with an international profile, specialising in early and Oriental string instruments, Jon Banks has toured, broadcast and recorded with groups including The Dufay Collective, The Burning Bush, Joglaresa, the Jocelyn Pook Ensemble and Iranian ensembles with Fariborz Kiani and Davod Azad. He is a regular performer and musical director at the Globe and lectures on Middle Eastern music at Anglia Ruskin University.

Najib Coutya is a singer and oud player, was born in Tripoli, Lebanon, where he lived until moving to London in 1991. He had a very musical upbringing as his father was a choirmaster and singer of Byzantine and Arabic Church music, renowned across the Middle East. From a young age Najib was involved in his father’s musical traditions and singing regularly, and by the age of 11 he was leading a choir.


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