London launch with live music from Omran Zain, DJ sets, a panel discussion and cassette exhibition.
An eclectic evening celebrating the Syrian Cassette Archives, an initiative to research, preserve and share analogue music tapes from Syria’s abundant cassette era (1970s–2010).
Bringing together seasoned performers from across London, the night will feature a live performance by singer Omran Zain, Kareem Samara on oud and Walid Zedo on percussion, visual projections by Manon Schwich, and cassette and vinyl DJ sets by Mark Gergis and Yamen Mekdad.
This will be complemented by a panel discussion with the Syrian Cassette Archive's team moderated by Sarah El Miniawy and an exhibition of some of the cassettes from the archive.
Syrian Cassette Archive
At the heart of the Syrian Cassette Archives are cassette tapes acquired by audio-archivist Mark Gergis during multiple stays in Syria between 1997 and 2010. The collection presents a wide-ranging overview of musical styles from Syriaʼs many communities, including Syrian Arabs, Assyrians, Kurds and Armenians, as well as Iraqis displaced by sanctions and wars throughout the 1990s-2000s.
The archive is home to tape recordings of live concerts, studio albums, soloists, classical, religious, patriotic and childrenʼs music, with a special focus on the regional dabke and shaabi folk-pop music, performed and recorded at weddings, parties and festivities.
The tapes weren't collected with the intention of forming a comprehensive overview of Syrian music or becoming a public archive. Instead, the collection reflects a period of personal research and exploration, aided by connections made with local music shops, producers and musicians during the time.
Since its inception in 2018, the Syrian Cassette Archive’s team of collaborators and producers has grown, as has the collection itself, with hundreds of additional cassettes being added to the archive from donors and collaborators in Syria and abroad. As the breadth and scope of the project have expanded, so have its aspirations to become not only a digital archive but a hub for people interested in Syrian music to connect, learn and create.
Part of the London Syrian Arts and Culture Festival (SACF).
This event is presented by Zamakan and MARSM, and is supported by Shubbak. Part of the Against Disappearance series presented by Shubbak with the British Council Cultural Protection Fund which is led by the British Council in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.