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Sami Yusuf, Amsterdams Andalusisch Orkest, Cappella Amsterdam

1 PM

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Sami Yusuf, internationally renowned composer, vocalist and musician, is called a ‘mega-star’ by the likes of the BBC and Time Magazine. With a preference for Sufi music, Yusuf is in full command of a range from deeply meditative melodies to pulsating energetic rhythms. His compositions are inspired by traditional music and mystical poetry. The Brit with Azeri roots sings in multiple languages and explores various cultures because, as he says, ‘People all over the world are looking for connection, and music makes that connection on the most profound level.’ For the special project, When Paths Meet – set to be performed during Holland Festival 2021 – Yusuf and his musicians collaborate with Cappella Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra, weaving together their distinct traditions in a joint celebration of the music across cultures. Yusuf writes wholly new compositions and arrangements, of which one song can now be seen and listened to as a remotely realised world premiere. The melody of the song One came to Yusuf in a dream, he says. He wrote it down immediately when he woke up.

The production of One was technically very challenging, with almost 30 musicians performing in separate studios. The song opens with Cappella Amsterdam’s performance of a vocal score suggestive of Gregorian chant. Transitioning from Western Europe to the world of Andalusia and North Africa, the Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra engages and tantalizes with sounds of the ney, violin, qanun and percussions, until the dramatic outro seals the ecstatic experience.

The German lyrics are from the 13th century Christian metaphysician and sage Meister Eckhart. Arabic lyrics are by Abu al-Hasan al-Shushtari, the 13th century Andalusian mystic and poet. Thematically linked, the words of these two visionaries speak of the Eternal I and of the Unity of vision — one seeing, one knowing, one love.

lyrics One

English Translation (from German):

The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.

English Translation (from Arabic):

Annihilated, I then emerged
Living on, but without I,
And who am I, O I, but I?
I drank from the eternal cup of love,
that is neither of this world nor of heaven.
Thus I became peerless in my time
Carrying my banner among one and all.
Mine is a wondrous path, an unsurpassed path.
How great is its radiance and my delight therein.
O you, who are worthy of beauty
If you do not give me your favor freely, I am wretched.
O People of Najd, far be it from you
To cut the ties of hope that bind us.

Copyright of Andante Records


‘I have always perceived a healing power in music, a power that can unveil the innermost depths of our humanity. It's how music was always viewed in the wisdom traditions of the past: an awakening, life-affirming essence.’ – Sami Yusuf

A passion for the power of music to express the subtleties of the human spirit has guided Sami Yusuf’s career from its start. The internationally renowned British composer and musician Yusuf (1980) began developing his craft as a child growing up in London, learning to play several traditional Middle Eastern instruments and exploring the tones and modes of the music they conveyed. To his ability to express himself musically within the classical Arabic / Persian maqam system, in his teens he added a fluency with piano and violin as he interiorised and immersed himself in Western classical music.

Yusuf’s genre-defining first album incorporated both these Western and Eastern elements that exist within him, and with its release he quickly gained international recognition. Across all of his works the listener perceives a unifying underpinning spirituality arising from Yusuf’s belief that traditions throughout the world are beautiful facets of one underlying reality. In recent years, Yusuf’s music has echoed with sounds from Andalusia to India, and his lyrics reflect the wisdom and beauty of mystical poets. With his love for his Azerbaijani heritage together with his European upbringing, he seeks to draw deep from within these diverse sources to bring about a re-imagining of traditional music for a contemporary audience.

The chamber choir Cappella Amsterdam was founded in 1970 by Jan Boeke and has had chief conductor Daniel Reuss as its artistic director since 1990. The choir specialises in modern as well as early music, with a special focus on work from Dutch composers ranging from Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck to Louis Andriessen and Ton de Leeuw. Composers such as Robert Heppener and Jan van Vlijmen have written compositions especially for the choir. Cappella Amsterdam regularly contributes to opera productions, such as the Stockhausen cycle aus LICHT at the Holland Festival 2019, Stockhausen’s SONNTAG aus LICHT with the Cologne Opera (2011), and Wolfgang Rihm’s Dionysos at the Holland Festival 2010.

Cappella Amsterdam also played a major part in the Nono trilogy at the Holland Festival 2014. Besides closely collaborating with leading Dutch ensembles and orchestras like the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and Asko|Schönberg, Cappella Amsterdam also works with prominent international companies like the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, the RIAS Kammerchor, Ensemble Musikfabrik, Il Gardellino, and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. In 2010, the choir was nominated for the Amsterdamprijs voor de Kunst and the Edison Klassiek Publieksprijs. A 2010 recording of Frank Martin’s Golgotha was nominated for a Grammy. A 2012 CD of choir pieces by Leoš Janáček and the 2016 recording of Arvo Pärt’s Kanon Pokajanen were both awarded an Edison Klassiek. 

In 2018, Cappella Amsterdam received the Klassieke Muziekprijs from the Vereniging van Schouwburg- en Concertgebouwdirecties for its rendition of Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem with the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century.

The Amsterdams Andalusisch Orkest (Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra), founded in 2011, plays different kinds of music from an area stretching from Granada to Bagdad. The repertoire comprises various styles and time periods. Its central focus is on the Arab-Andalusian music that developed on the Iberian peninsula during the Middle Ages. Until the Reconquista in 1492, the area was part of a caliphate in which culture and science thrived. The AAO also plays mystical Eastern music, improvisational music from the Arab world, and folk music from the Maghreb.

The AAO focuses on three genres within the Arab-Andalusian repertoire. The traditional, classical Tarab. The Chaabi Andalusi focuses on musical crossovers and folk music with influences from the Arab-Andalusian repertoire. The Sufi Andalusi represents the music’s mystical side with vocal improvisations that are passed on from teacher to disciple in zawias (sacred tombs). Apart from these repertoires, the AAO also takes to the stage with other Andalusian-oriented genres, such as the Malhoun and flamenco, and specialises in Eastern sharqi music. 

In the Tribute series, the AAO honours greats from the past such as Oum Kalthoum, Abdelhalim Hafez, and Mohamed Abdelwahab. It also presents contemporary developments and compositions. Apart from performing music, the orchestra focuses on education and organises exhibitions and the Oud festival. In theatre productions, the AAO presents music and culture from the region where the genre originated and in which stories play an important role.  The orchestra has performed at the Holland Festival several times. Its 2018 program centred on a mystical Sufi tradition and was performed by women.



Composer & Musical Director
Sami Yusuf
Idea & Commission
Holland Festival
German Words
Meister Eckhart
Arabic Words
Abu al-Hasan al-Shushtari
A collaboration between Sami Yusuf, Cappella Amsterdam & Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra
Sami Yusuf Team
Sami Yusuf, (vocal, piano & tonbak)
Ömer Avci (bendir),
Eyüpcan Açikpazu (ney),
Selim Boyaci (oud),
Onur Cicin (qanun),
Seyed Ali Jaberi (tanbour),
Seyyed Mohammad Jaberi (daf),
Seyyed Pourya Jaberi (bendir),
Kutay Ozcan (baglama),
Mahyar Toreihi (santoor))
Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra
Abderrahim Semlali (Musical leader AAO, violin & vocals),
Mohamed Mokhlis (Violin & Vocals),
Jaafar Loughmani (Violin),
Yassir Bouselem (Viola),
Ahmed El Maai (Kanun, Rabab and vocals),
Daniel van Huffelen (Double Bass),
Ruven Ruppik & Ahmed Khaili (Percussion),
Mohamed Chairi & Abdellatif Lghali (Vocals),
Mohamed Aadroun (Director)
Cappella Amsterdam
Aldona Bartnik & Elma Dekker (Soprano),
Sabine van der Heijden & Inga Schneider (Alto),
Jon Etxabe Arzuaga & Diederik Rooker (Tenor),
Jan Douwes & Nathan Tax (Bass)
German Language
Marion Höchstötter
Arabic Language
Elouafi Mohammed
Consultant & Advisor
Katherine O’Brien
English Translation (from Arabic)
Dr. Yousef Casewit & Saad Ansari
English Translation (from German)
Katherine O’Brien
Executive Producers
Holland Festival, Sami Yusuf
Recording Engineers
Arjan van Asselt, Omer Avci, Vishnu Rajan
Mixed & Mastered by
Vishnu Rajan @ Andante Studios
Video Editing & Postproduction
Omar Al-Balushi @ Andante Studios
Filmed by
Aps Bakkali & Jeffry Bakker for AAO and Capella Amsterdam
Sami Yusuf Management
Clover Management Limited
Graphic Design & Artwork
Mahdi Jahangir
Published by Andante Records & Administered by Fairwood Music (UK) Ltd for the World
© 2020, Andante Records

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