Syrian clarinetist Kinan Azmeh gives his home a voice through music

Kinan Azmeh discusses his music and his latest audio-visual performance documenting the emotions of the people of Syria.
Kinan Azmeh performs an original piece with the TSO to celebrate the arrival of the first Syrian refugees to Canada. (YouTube)

"It felt totally irrelevant to be holding the clarinet and playing music when your countrymen and women are being shot at," says Kinan Azmeh on being in New York playing music while a civil uprising was taking place in his home of Syria. He stopped composing for a year because he didn't know what he wanted to express through his music.

Azmeh believes "you do art to experience emotions that you don't have the luxury of experiencing in real life" and that these emotions extend far beyond happy and sad. But when the Syrian Civil Uprising began in March 2011, Azmeh says "the need for music disappeared" because he was engaged in emotions that he had never felt before.

Syrian clarinet player Kinan Azmeh stopped by the q studios with pianist Dinuk Wijeratne in Toronto, Ont. (Melody Lau/CBC)

Eventually Azmeh realized the power in his instrument and got back to composing, giving his nation a voice through his music. In his new audio-visual performance Home Within, Azmeh imagines his clarinet sprouting buildings "as if the clarinet can rebuild a home," but then he remembers "this is just a piece of art." 

WEB EXTRA | Watch Kinan Azmeh in Home Within below.