Maya Youssef, who grew up in Syria, is a vituoso of the kanun, an extraordinary and fascinating traditional Syrian 78-stringed plucker zither which has most certainly never been on a Shetland Folk Festival stage before! An exciting addition to our lineup.
Maya Youssef grew up in Syria, determined from a young age to become a musician and to play the kanun, despite being told at a young age by a local taxi driver that it was “a man’s instrument”. After studying the instrument at the High Institute of Music and Dramatic arts in Damascus, Maya moved to London as part of Arts Council England’s Exceptional Talent scheme. She has since performed at major UK festivals and venues including Celtic Connections and the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. After winning a scholarship and completing her masters in ethnomusicology at SOAS University of London, Maya is currently researching how music can be used to be as a healing tool for Syrian Refugee Children as her PhD project. As well as her studies and teaching work, she is preparing to release her debut album this autumn. Maya will be performing at the festival alongside cellist Barney Morse-Brown who has toured with the likes of Chris Woods and Eliza Carthy, while also being a long-time member of BBC Folk Award winning band The Imagined Village. Percussionist Elizabeth Nott will also join Maya and Barney and together they will bring some exciting and exotic Middle Eastern sounds to the festival line-up.