Issam Rafea

About me

Dekalb, United States

Oud player & Composer, I won the 2010 “Best Composer Award” in the Dubai International Film Festival for my music in the film (September Rain).Chair of the Arabic Music Department at the High Institute of Music in Damascus and the principal conductor of the SNAOM from 2003- 2013.In March of 2013 I was invited to the United States to direct the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble at NIU. In the spring of 2017 I was an artist-in-residence at Carleton College,MN where I met Gao Hong,a Pipa master from China.Together we formed the “Issam Rafea and Gao Hong Duo.” In May of 2018 we released our debut CD “Life As Is – the Blending of Ancient Souls from Syria and China.” We have performed at Carleton College; St Paul College; The Cedar Cultural Center; Inn-Fest and dozens of other performances throughout Minnesota.This newly formed duo also won a 2018 USArtists International Grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in the U.S.

Cultural background

  • Syrian Arab Republic

Project Music

No submissions for Beyond Music Project Volume 3.

Sunset

"Sunset" was recorded in Gao Hong's home in the US. Issam Rafea from Syria, plays the Arabic oud, and China-born Gao Hong plays the Chinese pipa. This collaboration blends Chinese and Arabic music and ancient souls from Syria and China. Issam and Gao express their feelings inspired by the beauty of sunsets. The world is in crisis as the environment is being destroyed. This piece reminds people that coming together and doing our part to protect the environment is the only way we can continue to enjoy the peacefulness of sunsets.

  • Arabic
  • Asian
  • Classical
  • Fusion
  • Improvisational
  • Instrumental
  • Traditional / Folk
  • World
  • Pipa
  • Ud / Oud
  • China
  • Syrian Arab Republic
Rain Drops

Raindrops is a free improvisation by Syrian oud master Issam Rafea and Chinese pipa master Gao Hong. All their music is recorded with no rehearsal, discussion or planning whatsoever, and done in a single take with no editing. They only perform live compositions that they improvise on-the-spot on stage or in the studio. In performances, they base some of their music on titles suggested by the audience. They use their hearts and musical talents to produce their special brand of music. Each concert is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

  • Arabic
  • Asian
  • Fusion
  • Improvisational
  • Instrumental
  • Soundtrack
  • Traditional / Folk
  • World
  • Pipa
  • Ud / Oud
  • China
  • Syrian Arab Republic
Peaceful Horizon

Peaceful Horizon is a free improvisation. Syrian oud master Issam Rafea and Chinese pipa master Gao Hong perform live improvisations blending Chinese and Arabic techniques in a performance titled "The Blending of Ancient Souls from Syria and China." This track was recorded live. They strive to create new sounds, new means of expression. They use their emotional connection to describe different images, events, and feelings. Since they never discuss what they will play in advance, no two performances are ever the same.

  • Arabic
  • Asian
  • Fusion
  • Improvisational
  • Instrumental
  • Soundtrack
  • Traditional / Folk
  • World
  • Pipa
  • Ud / Oud
  • China
  • Syrian Arab Republic

No submissions for Beyond Music Project Volume 1.