The New-Found Song of the Lyre

The Splendour of Aleppo
Love songs and hymns of the Syrian-Christian, Armenian, Muslim, and Jewish communities

Razek-François Bitar countertenor

Salim Saroueh violin
Bakri Maslmani qanun
Georges Saade riqq and darbuqa

narrator Paolo Scarnecchia


In just five years, the city of Aleppo, which for centuries had impressed travellers with its cosmopolitanism and its wealth of culture, has been reduced to a pile of rubble, and most of the population has fled. Aleppo used to be the symbol for the music of the Near East, and was unrivalled for its wealth of Christian, Syriac and Armenian liturgical and devotional songs. It was also renowned for the muwashshah, a strophic verse poem with a refrain, born in medieval times and developed in Muslim Spain. Aleppo musicians were born from a mix of cultures that stroke roots in the rich repertoire of the Sephardic Jewish tradition, and boasted the famous Aleppo Codex, one of the oldest manuscripts of the Masoretic Hebrew Bible. Today, all they can do is revive the memory of Aleppo in their diaspora.