Maya Youssef is an award-winning Syrian Kanun player from Damascus.
When she was ten years old she began her lifelong musical career with the Kanun at Sulhi Alwadi Music Institute in Damascus, and at the age of 12 she won Best Musician Award in Syria’s youth national music competition.
In 2007 Maya completed her BA in Music from the High Institute of Music & Theatrical Arts in Damascus, where she was trained in classical Arabic, Western, and Azerbaijani Kanun schools by the masters: Salim Sarwa from Syria & Elmira Akhundova from Azerbaijan.
With her talent gaining international prominence, Maya gave vibrant solo performances and founded the Syrian Female Oriental Group (SFOG) in 2003, along with five of her musician colleagues. The SFOG regularly performed at many important events in Syria, as well as in distinguished Asian and European cities. The inspiring and inspired group took their music to Dubai, Beijing, Bologna, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Athens among other vibrant destinations.
In 2007, Maya moved to Dubai to focus on her solo career before being invited to teach at Oman’s Sultan Qaboos University in the Department of Music and Musicology in 2009.
In early 2012, Arts Council England recognized Maya as an Exceptional Talent, which has enabled her to come to London to develop her career.
Her work challenges traditions by composing pieces that blend different cultures and instruments together. Here she plays Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ with the Syrian National Orchestra:
– Text adapted from the Taqasim music school.
In March 2011 an uprising began against the Syrian government, which led to civil war. According to various human rights organisations and United Nations, human rights violations have been committed by both the government and the rebels, with the “vast majority of the abuses having been committed by the Syrian government”, according to the UN.
Since the outbreak of the conflict an estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes, taking refuge in neighbouring countries or within Syria itself
In August 2014 a UN study showed that 191,369 people had died due to the Syrian conflict.
Public fears of immigrants from new EU member states including Romania led to restrctions on their entry and length of stay. In 2011, citizens of the new EU member states made up 13% of the immigrants entering the country. Since 29 February 2012, all applicants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) applying to stay in the UK for more than 6 months have to register their fingerprints and provide a digital facial image. Successful applicants are issued with a biometric residence permit.
By January 2015, the Government had only agreed to resettle 90 Syrian refugees in the UK.