Blog

You are here

Meet the artists of the New European Songbook

At this year’s International Festival, established European artists like Conchita Wurst and Matthew Herbert will join artists recently arrived in the continent for two nights of new music. New European Songbook showcases the changing face and sounds of Europe today, a continent in which mass migrational movements of people brings rich, new influences, talents and styles to our cities.

Read our blog to get to know the artists performing on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 August.


Conchita Wurst

Friday 11 August

Prolific UK music producer and artist Matthew Herbert with Iranian fusion musician Arian Sadr

Matthew Herbert (United Kingdom) is a prolific and accomplished musician, artist, producer and writer whose range of innovative works extends from numerous albums to Ivor Novello nominated film scores (Life in a Day) as well as music for theatre, Broadway, TV, video games and radio.

Arian Sadr (Iran) plays Tonbak (Persian goblet drum) and Daf (a circular frame drum) and has performed with Music Action International at the End Sexual Violence in Conflict event (hosted by Angelina Jolie), with musicians from BBC Philharmonic and Manchester International Roots Orchestra.

Austrian pop artist and Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst with Syrian trio Basalt

Conchita Wurst (Austria) is a pop recording artist and drag queen portrayed by Thomas "Tom" Neuwirth. Wurst came to international attention after winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2014 as Austria's entrant with the song "Rise Like a Phoenix".

Basalt (Syria) is a trio formed in 2016 in  Austria, consisting of guitarist and vocalist Amjad Khaboura, guitarist and vocalist Noor Eli Khoury and bass player Almonther Alshoufi. They perform a mix of styles including alternative, oriental, blues and rock.

Portuguese Fado singer Carolina with Argentinian jazz musician Demian Cabaud

Carolina (Portugal) is one of the new voices of Fado in Portugal. Traditional in style, and boasting a voice with an unmistakable timbre and strong presence, Carolina possesses the highest degree course from the singing conservatory as well as a wide experience on the stage.

Demian Cabaud (Argentina) is a jazz musician living in Portugal. He has played with the likes of Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano, Mark Turner, Bill Mchenry, Rich Perry, Rick Margitza, Seamus Blake, Maria Schneider, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Jason Moran, Sheila Jordan, John Hollenbeck and is a regular member of the prestigious Orquestra Jazz de Matosinhos.

Egyptian rock musician Ramy Essam, best known for his Tahrir Square performance during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution

Ramy Essam (Egypt) is best known for his appearances in Tahrir Square, Cairo during the Egyptian Revolution of 2011; following his appearances, he was arrested and tortured. His song “Irhal”, which urged Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to resign, is referred to as the anthem of the revolution and was selected by Time Out as the third-most world-changing song of all time.

Ramy Essam

Saturday 12 August

Award-winning Scottish folk singer-songwriter Karine Polwart with Ghanaian multi-genre artist Naa Densua Tordzro

Karine Polwart (Scotland) is a singer, songwriter, composer and essayist. Her songs combine folk influences and myth with themes as diverse as Donald Trump’s corporate megalomania, Charles Darwin’s family life and the complexities of modern parenthood. Polwart is four times winner at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, including twice for Best Original Song.

Naa Densua Tordzro (Ghana) is a multi-genre artist living and working in Glasgow. She sings and plays with the resident bands of Pan African Arts Scotland, the Hi Life Band and Hesu, blending modern and traditional Ghanaian music with Scottish traditional songs. She has performed in Ghana, Argentina and Scotland.

Syrian violinist Shalan Alhamwy with fellow Syrian vocalist Rasha Rizk

Shalan Alhamwy (Syria) is a violinist and composer, born in Homs and currently living in Belgium. His music features a fusion of different musical effects and elements of classical, jazz and Arabic music.

Rasha Rizk (Syria) has performed a variety of music including oriental, opera and jazz all over the world including Beirut, Amman, Qatar, Kuwait, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Morocco, Paris, Frankfort, Athens and multiple Syrian cities. In addition, she has performed at Doha Jazz Festival in 2004 and Dubai Jazz Festival, and numerous operas.

Swiss jazz and pop artist Scilla Hess with Albanian composer and pianist Markelian Kapedani

Scilla Hess (Switzerland) is an award-winning jazz and pop artist, based in Los Angeles, working in many genres of music including pop, jazz, cabaret and burlesque, inspired by artists such as Amy Winehouse, Etta James and Adele.

Markelian Kapedani (Albania) is a pianist, composer, arranger and one of the most significant representatives of the cultural and social renewal of Albania in the years immediately following the fall of the Berlin Wall. One of the fundamental characteristics of his art is to merge ‘formal’ Western music with popular motifs of the Balkans together with a strong jazz imprint.

Syrian Qanun virtuouso Maya Youssef

Maya Youssef (Syria) is one of the finest Syrian musicians of her generation and a virtuoso player of the 78-stringed plucked zither known as the Qanun. Since 2012, she has been living in London, where she is studying for a PhD and has performed at the BBC Proms and worked with Damon Albarn.

Maya Youssef


See New European Songbook on 11 & 12 August as part of the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival. Book your tickets now.

New European Songbook is a pan-European collaboration embodying the spirit of continental cooperation

New European Songbook is presented as part of the Edinburgh International Festival and British Council season Spirit of '47.


Photo credits:

Matthew Herbert © Margaret Salmon
Conchita Wurst © Andre Karsai
Ramy Essam © Rodney Bursiel
Maya Youssef © Sarah Ginn

International Festival Photographer Exhibition 2017 opens

Counterpoint, a photography exhibition showcasing the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival opens at The Hub

Edinburgh International Festival Director’s Contract Extended

The Edinburgh International Festival is delighted to announce that Fergus Linehan, Festival Director, is to extend his contract and stay in post until Festival 2022.

Edinburgh International Festival receives 2017 Fair Saturday Award

The award was presented at the opening gala of Fair Saturday 2017 which took place at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao on Monday 30 October.