Hailed as “intensely soulful” and a “virtuoso” by The New York Times and “spellbinding” by The New Yorker, Winner of OpusKlassik award in 2019 clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh has gained international recognition for what the CBC has called his “incredibly rich sound” and his distinctive compositional voice across diverse musical genres.
Originally from Damascus, Syria, Kinan Azmeh brings his music to all corners of the world as a soloist, composer and improviser. Notable appearances include the Opera Bastille, Paris; Tchaikovsky Grand Hall, Moscow; Carnegie Hall and the UN General Assembly, New York; the Royal Albert hall, London; Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires; Der Philharmonie, Berlin; the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, Washington DC; the Mozarteum, Salzburg, Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie; and in his native Syria at the opening concert of the Damascus Opera House.
He has appeared as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, the Seattle Symphony, the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the Qatar Philharmonic and the Syrian Symphony Orchestra among others, and has shared the stage with such musical luminaries as Yo-Yo Ma, Marcel Khalife, Aynur, Daniel Barenboim, and Jivan Gasparian.
Kinan’s compositions include several works for solo, chamber, and orchestral music, as well as music for film, live illustration, and electronics. He was Composer-In-Residence with Classical Movements for the 2017-2018 season. His resent compositions were commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony , The Silkroad Ensemble, Saint Paul Chamber Orhcetsra, Elbphilharmonie, Apple Hill String Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, Quatuor Voce and Bob Wilson’s for his recent production of Oedipus Rex.
As a clarinetist, his unique sound and commitment to new music has resulted in the commissioning and premiere of numerous new works for the clarinet that were written for him, including concertos by Dia Succari, Kareem Roustom, Zaid Jabri, Dinuk Wijeratne, Saad Haddad and Guus Janssen among others.
Kinan’s discography include three albums with his ensemble Hewar, several soundtracks for film and dance, a duo album with pianist Dinuk Wijeratne and an album with his New York “Arabic-jazz” quartet the Kinan Azmeh CityBand. His album “Uneven Sky” with the Deutsches Symphony Orchestra has won the OpusKlassik Award in 2019. He serves as artistic director of the Damascus Festival Chamber Players, a pan-Arab ensemble dedicated to contemporary music form the Arab world. Kinan is a frequent guest faculty at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music and is on the advisory board of the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra. He is also a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble, whose 2017 Grammy Award-winning album “Sing Me Home” features Kinan as a clarinetist and composer.
Kinan Azmeh is a graduate of New York’s Juilliard School as a student of Charles Neidich, and of both the Damascus High institute of Music where he studied with Shukry Sahwki, Nicolay Viovanof and Anatoly Moratof, and Damascus University’s School of Electrical Engineering. Kinan earned his doctorate degree in music from the City University of New York in 2013.