Syria-born percussionist Elias Aboud completed his musical education at Berlin’s Barenboim-Said Akademie in 2013 and formed the Ramal Ensemble with three fellow Syrian musicians in Berlin. They not only play traditional pieces, he says, but also compose “works that bring the sophisticated polyrhythmic sound of Arab music to Western chamber ensembles, experimenting with classic tunes from both traditions.”
A musical wave has been swelling for a decade in the German capital, which one local analyst now calls “the city of choice for a new generation of cultural talent from the Middle East and North Africa”—part of the greater demographic shift that has made people of Arab backgrounds Berlin’s fourth-largest ethnic-identity group. In street jams, clubs, studios, concert halls and online, new mixes of musicians are blending notes and ideas into genre-bending, transcultural fusions.
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