Damascus-born Maya Youssef is hailed as ‘the queen of the qanun’, a traditional Syrian 78-stringed plucked zither. Based on Arabic musical traditions, her innovative sound has echoes of everything from jazz to flamenco, infused with warmth, humour and optimism. She described her debut album Syrian Dreams as her “personal journey through six years of war in Syria. I see the act of playing music as the opposite of death; it is a life and hope-affirming act”.
Maya has performed widely around the world, including at the BBC Proms, and is a winner of Arts Council England’s Exceptional Talent award and Songlines’ Newcomer Music Award 2018.
“She plays as revolution, she plays as rejuvenation, she plays for peace, she plays to heal and she plays to remember.”