Gaziantep, Turkey: Coming from Aleppo a city known for its long heritage of music and once nominated as the capital of Islamic Culture, Syrian artists decided preserving the art heritage of their city.
“Before the revolution started there were three chanting bands in Aleppo,” said Hossam Ahmed, the co-founder and manager of The Syrian Authenticity for Art and Heritage group “we then wanted to make a new thing related to art and music but we couldn’t due to the hard situation of the city” he added
Working in the field of music before the revolution, Hossam wanted to establish a new art-related group in Aleppo but due to the hard situation of the city that was much harmed by the Syrian conflict, he didn’t manage to do it. He then started to work in producing news stories covering what is happening in his city for news agencies before he had to leave it and go to Turkey in 2015
Founding the Team:
“When the situation went terribly bad I moved to Turkey, I then contacted Nour and we thought about a new group to revive the Syrian art and heritage in Turkey” explained Hossam.
Nour Yasergy, the Art Director of the group was already in Turkey when Hossam arrived. They kept in contact for a while then they made their first trial of establishing a musical band that lasted only six months. It didn’t work out due to differences in political points of view in addition to logistical problems of not finding a place to practice and that people were working and have no time for the band.
“After that, we re-arranged ourselves and started a new group with a defined age group between 16 and 30 years and more structured selection process,” said Hossam
In addition to a strict selecting process that includes interview and audition for the applicant, the group has strong rules that guarantee commitment of its members.
The group consists of seven branches, Aleppo Muwashshah and Qudod which are the measurements of songs that Aleppo has long been known for through history, Theatre acting, Solfège which is art of singing the musical notes, Cultural Arabic Dance like Dabke, Photography and Videography, Mevlevi Whirling and Poetry
The team which aims not only to preserve the Syrian and Aleppo art heritage but also the Arabic, consists of 55 members from different Arab countries. They meet in a small office in Gaziantep, to perform and practice singing and acting. And that is one of the main limitations to their goals “we are self-financed and we are guests in this office” says Hossam “we are afraid that we might have a legal problem we don’t know about and we do wish to find support and funding for this project” he added
Preserving the Heritage and Exchanging Culture
Hossam and Nour have dreams for their group, they are wishing for a building in which each branch will have a whole floor to practice and they are also planning to introduce their team in a new creative way soon
“We are planning to organise an event in which we present ourselves in a new way by being the whole group on the stage and perform one after another showing the audience the different arts we perform” explained Hossam
As they aim to introduce the eastern art to western societies, reaching out to Syrians and encourage them to initiate groups for the same aims wherever they are living now and they working on forming a Syrian artists colation. They also plan to start a new project with the Turkish community Turks sing Arabic and Arabs sing Turkish as a form of cultural exchange.
The impact of the group is not only for now, it has as many other Syrian projects founded in exile an impact on the post-conflict Syria “We want to find the rare Arabic songs and Muwashshah that no one sang before and record them as the first people to sing them and that is a way to protect our heritage” Said Nour
“Imagine if, from the 55 members of the group, 10 people went back to their cities fully aware and knowledgeable about their musical and art heritage, the Syrian art will be preserved for generations this way” added Hossam