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New European Songbook

Sounds from a continent in flux

Unique collaborations between established European musicians and artists recently arrived in the continent brought you the newest sounds of Europe today. Performed as part of the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival.

Unique collaborations between established European musicians and artists recently arrived in the continent bring you the newest sounds of Europe today.

Respected European musicians join artists already celebrated in their homelands who have recently travelled to Europe, to create new musical dialogues, showcasing the diverse cultural and musical talents within a continent in flux.

In a two-part programme taking place across two evenings, this rich collection of brand new songs is performed live for the first time, each part featuring a unique bill of artists.

Performers on Friday 11 August:

- Prolific UK music producer and artist Matthew Herbert with Iranian fusion musician Arian Sadr
- A filmed performance of Austrian pop artist and Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst with Syrian trio Basalt
- Portuguese Fado singer Carolina with Argentinian jazz musician Demian Cabaud
- Egyptian rock musician Ramy Essam, best known for his Tahrir Square performance during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution

Performers on Saturday 12 August:

- Award-winning Scottish folk singer-songwriter Karine Polwart with Ghanaian multi-genre artist Naa Densua Tordzro
- Syrian violinist Shalan Alhamwy with fellow Syrian vocalist Rasha Rizk
- Swiss jazz and pop artist Scilla Hess with Albanian composer and pianist Markelian Kapedani
- Syrian Qanun virtuouso Maya Youssef

The concerts were presented by BBC Radio 3’s Sarah Walker. The New European Songbook is a major creative collaboration between European broadcasters, and events was live-streamed by BBC Arts Digital and recorded for broadcast through an initiative of the European Broadcasting Union, supported by BBC Arts Digital and BBC Radio 3.

Part of the International Festival and British Council season Spirit of '47

We are delighted that BBC Arts Digital collaborated with us, making many of the events from Spirit of ’47 available live and on demand to a global audience online. Visit BBC Arts Digital for more information.

View footage from Friday's concert on BBC Arts Digital

View footage from Saturday's concert on BBC Arts Digital

More information about some of the artists:

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. Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

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. Website | Facebook | Twitter

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". Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

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. Facebook

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. Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

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. Website 

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. Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

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. Website | Facebook | Twitter | SoundCloud

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. SoundCloud

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. Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

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. Facebook | Instagram | SoundCloud

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. Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

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.

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. Website | Facebook | Twitter

11-12 August 2017

This event was part of a previous International Festival and is therefore unavailable to book. The 2020 programme will be announced in the spring.