Khyam Allami

Khyam Allami

 London, England, GBR
BandWorldAcoustic

Innovative, inspired and hard working, the multi-talented Oud player Khyam Allami is one of the UK and Arab world's top upcoming independent artists.

Biography

It’s not often that you stumble on a musician at the start of his career who’s biography is as intriguing as Khyam Allami’s. Since taking up the ‘ud (or Oud, Middle Eastern Lute) in 2004, he has already generated a “palpable buzz” about him and “left a trail of unforgettable live performances in his wake” according to the UK’s fRoots Magazine who recently put him on their cover.

Whether at small independent venues, Birmingham’s alternative/experimental Supersonic festival, WOMAD or the BBC Proms in London’s Royal Albert Hall, Khyam is yet to falter in making his audience revel in the lucid beauty of his music.

Born in Damascus, Syria to Iraqi parents in 1981, Khyam took up the violin at the tender age of 8 when he played the role of a young violinist in the art-house film Al- Tahaleb directed by Rimon Butrus (1991). After his family moved to London in 1990, he soon dropped the violin and in 1996 began to play Drums and Bass Guitar. He co-founded the independent rock groups Ursa and Art of Burning Water and slowly garnered a reputation as one of London’s most passionate and hard-hitting drummers.

Yet something was still missing. In 2004 his path took yet another turn and he began to study the ‘ud, Arabic music theory and traditional Iraqi repertoire with the London based Iraqi ‘ud maestro Ehsan Emam. Quite the de-tour.

In the following years he dedicated tirelessly to music and travelled across the Middle East to study with ‘ud maestros Naseer Shamma and Hazem Shaheen in Cairo, Egypt and Mehmet Bitmez in Istanbul, Turkey. In the process he received various grants, awards and scholarships and completed two degrees in Music (BA, MMus) at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

In 2010 his dedication and hard work was recognised nationally when he became the first recipient of the prestigious World Routes Academy scholarship from BBC Radio 3.

The project culminated in two spectacular performances at WOMAD 2010 and as part of the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, accompanied by Italian master percussionist Andrea Piccioni, both broadcast live on BBC R3 and well received in the major UK press (Guardian, Evening Standard, Telegraph, Times).

Although perceived as a performer of “traditional” music, it’s clear to any learned ear that there is something different about Khyam’s ‘ud playing. His interweaving melodies and rhythmic flourishes respecting traditional forms and structures, whilst always hinting at an elsewhere slowly being discovered.

The 2011 release of his widely acclaimed album Resonance/Dissonance on Nawa Recordings was lauded as “a firm reminder of the oud's potential" (The Guardian) and led to a nomination for the Songlines Music Awards in the Newcomer category, cementing his reputation as one of the most inventive and aspiring young musicians on the UK and Arab music scene.

Discography

Solo releases
June 2011 - Resonance/Dissonance (Nawa Recordings)

Compilations
Jan 2012 - World Routes On the Road (Nascente)

Set List

1. Individuation
2. Naghmat Tahrir
3. Tawazon I: Balance
4. An Alif/An Apex
5. Tawazon II: or Lack of
6. The Descent (Maqam Nawa)
7. Reverie
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8. Sound of Disquiet