Irtijal 2021

Day 2 – Detailed Program

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Beirut Art Center – 8.00pm

Hans Koch – Solo

Hans Koch clarinet

Hans Koch

After leaving a classical career as an orchestral musician, Hans Koch made a name for himself as one of the most innovative improvising woodwind players in Europe. Since the eighties, he has worked with many greats, including Cecil Taylor and Fred Frith. As a composer, he shaped the independent sound of the internationally-known trio “Koch-Schütz-Studer”, using electronics, samplings, and computers. As a woodwind player, he has developed a very independent style, which has made him one of the most original wind players on the current scene. Hans has also composed music for radio plays and films. His current touring projects include Porta Chiusa, a clarinet trio with Hans Koch and Michael Thieke.

Jawad Nawfal & Elyse Tabet

Jawad Nawfal modular synth
Elyse Tabet modular synth

Elise Tabet & Jawad Nawfal
Elyse Tabet has been working in audio-visual interaction since the early 2000s, mainly as a videographer for live performances and DJ sets. In 2008, she began recording acousmatic sounds and processing them in DAWs and samplers to produce electronic music. She has worked on projects with electronic producer Jawad Nawfal, releasing “New Found Grids” under the name Litter for Cedrik Fermont’s label Syrphe Records in 2013, and “Coast” for Nawfal’s platform VV-VA in 2019. She contributed to projects with punk rock and electronic musician Yangfan Li, drummer and producer Nabil Saliba, video artist Maureen Castera, and Lisbon-based artist & curator Violeta Lisboa. Her sound continues to focus on textures and draws from noise pop, musique concrete, ambient, industrial electronica, dub, and garage beats.

Lebanese producer Jawad Nawfal created sonic alter-ego Munma in the aftermath of Israel’s war on Lebanon in the summer of 2006 – releasing three albums in quick succession for Lebanese imprint Incognito. In 2012, he started working with Lebanese slam poet El Rass, and the two musicians released two albums exploring the darker sides of rap and hip-hop, reconfiguring the genre to include elements of bass and electronica. Between 2014 and 2016, Munma collaborated with Belgian electronic producer Kirdec on several releases for his label Syrphe. 2016’s “Three Voices” (Ruptured) explored the possibilities of the human voice within an ambient electronic framework. In 2019 Nawfal self-founded label VVVA, as a platform for his impressive collection of unreleased tracks and experimental side projects.

Elyse and Jawad collaborated for the first time on the Ruptured-curated series of recordings “The Drone Sessions”, in November 2020. This performance for Irtijal’21 will be their second live outing.

Mazen Kerbaj’s Synesthesia

Shakeeb Abu Hamdan drums
Jad Atoui modular synth
Mazen Kerbaj drawing
Abed Kobeissy buzuk, electronics
Sary Moussa synth, electronics
Malek Rizkallah drums
Sharif Sehnaoui guitar

“Synesthesia” is a live graphic score for improvising ensemble, created and interpreted in real-time. Mazen Kerbaj creates live visuals that are projected on a large screen for the audience to see, and serve as a conduction system for the ensemble of musicians.

The audience sees and hears an abstract movie created in real-time, where neither the images illustrate the music, nor the music is an accompaniment to the images; they rather move together and constantly feed each other (the visuals give a direction to the music that in returns influences the visuals).

This original concept is a contemporary take on many others from the 20th century music and film traditions, including Cornelius Cardew’s “Treatise”, Butch Morris’ conductions, live music for silent movies, surrealists’ experimental movies and modern video art.

Shakeeb Abu Hamdan

Shakeeb Abu Hamdan is an artist, musician, and recording engineer living in Beirut. He has been heavily involved in the DIY music scenes of London and Leeds in the UK over the past 15 years, playing in various experimental rock/weird punk bands including Cleckhuddersfax, Please, and Isambard Kingston Brunel; running Ouse, a recording studio and label; and organizing the Total Inertia Music festival. Recent performances and recordings have centered around the use of drums, collected metals, bells, and cymbals augmented and amplified with megaphones and other lo-tech electronics.

Jad Atoui
Jad Atoui is a music composer, sound designer, and electronic sounds experimentalist based in Beirut. Using his bio-sensors, field recordings, and analog gears he composes and performs electronic music. His work has been featured in Pompidou Center (2012, Paris) and The Stone (NYC). He has performed with John Zorn, Laurie Anderson, Marc Ribot, Elliott Sharp, Bill Frisell, and Chuck Bettis. In 2015, in collaboration with scientist Ivan Marazzi, Jad spearheaded the “Biosonics” project, which incorporates bio-sonification of behaviors as a compositional tool. The project was published in John Zorn’s “Arcana Book Vol. XVIII” and premiered at The National Sawdust.
Mazen Kerbaj

Mazen Kerbaj is a Lebanese comics author, visual artist, and musician born in Beirut. Mazen is the author of more than 15 books, and his short stories and drawings have been published in anthologies, newspapers, and magazines. His work has been translated into more than ten languages and has been shown in galleries, museums, and art fairs around the world.
Mazen is widely considered as one of the initiators and key players of the Lebanese free improvisation and experimental music scene. He is the co-founder of Irtijal and of Al Maslakh, the first label for experimental music in the region, operating since 2005. As a trumpet player, whether in solo performances or with long-lasting groups like “A” Trio, Mazen pushes the boundaries of the instrument and continues to develop a personal sound and an innovative language, following in the footsteps of pioneers like Bill Dixon, Axel Dörner and Franz Hautzinger.

Abed Kobeissy

Interested in urban sounds and Arabic music, Lebanese musician Abed Kobeissy approaches Beirut’s urban soundscapes as a local aesthetic and a main component of his work: the unique sound of processed Buzuq and drum machine, combined with the musician’s background in traditional Arabic music, takes the sonic, visual and pseudo-political day-to-day that is Beirut and reflects it onto a hyper-realistic soundscape. Kobeissy also composes scores for contemporary dance and theater productions.

Sary Moussa

Sary Moussa is an electronic musician who has been active in the Beirut underground scene since 2008. In October 2014, he released his first full-length album “Issrar” under the moniker radiokvm, for Lebanese indie label Ruptured Records. His latest record “Imbalance” (Other People, 2019) finds Moussa revisiting the soundscapes of his childhood; from the echoes of political unrest, to Greek-Catholic chants, and the quiet nights of a secluded Southern village. The album combines sound design with intricate melodic arrangements to create a choir of synthesizers and noise singing in and out of sync. In addition to his solo work, Moussa has also composed music for theatre and dance performances, short films, and museum installations.

Sharif Sehnaoui

Beirut-born guitarist Sharif Sehnaoui specializes in free improvisation and is equally at ease with both the electric and acoustic guitar. By preparing his instruments using specific techniques, he expands their sound spectrum in individual ways, experimenting as well with the percussive qualities of the guitar. Together with improvising musician Mazen Kerbaj, Sehnaoui co-founded Irijal, an experimental music festival that has taken place annually since 2001 in Beirut – the only one of its kind in the Arab world. At home he plays in the “A” Trio and BAO groups, among others.

Istimrar Phase 1

Commissions Launch

Hans Koch
In 2021, Irtijal Festival launched ISTIMRAR, its first series of commissioned works addressed to Lebanese musicians. The purpose of this series is to keep the creativity of Lebanese musicians alive and robust, and to inject some stimulation into the Lebanese musical sector as a whole.

This first series of commissions went to twelve composers and musicians currently living in Lebanon. Each musician was be provided with the necessary tools to produce a musical work of her/his devising. The sole condition being that the work should be composed, recorded, mixed and produced locally.

We are proud to launch “Istimrar” within Irtijal’21 at Beirut Art Center, where the works of Jad Atoui, Abed Kobeissy, Aya Metwalli, Jawad Nawfal, Julia Sabra, Ghassan Sahhab, Anthony Sahyoun, Jana Saleh, Nour Sokhon Elyse Tabet, Fadi Tabbal and Cynthia Zaven will be finally made available for general listening purposes.


Day 1

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Day 2

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Day 3

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