AMMAN — The Khoury Project on Monday held a concert to a full house at the International Academy of Amman (IAA).
Last time they performed in Amman was two years ago. “My heart is beating fast, I am deeply moved to be here tonight because the Ammani audience is special to us, as we are from here. Amman is home,” said Osama, the youngest of the three Khoury brothers.
In Jordan, they are known as The Khoury Trio: Elia plays the oud, Basil the violin and Osama the kanun.
After a long career in the Middle East, the brothers moved to France in 2007, “seeking new experience and influences to enrich our musical skills”, says Elia.
They came back from Europe in 2012 with a new show, called The Khoury Project, adding two musicians: Guillaume Robert, a French double bass player and Youcef Hbeisch, a Palestinian percussionist.
The audience could thus listen to a fusion between classical Arab and Western contemporary music.
“I heard a lot about this band and I’m so happy to be here. I really enjoyed their music,” said Zeena, who attended the performance together with her friend Nicole.
“It is the second time I see them in Amman and I am appreciating it even more since they have included those new instruments,” said Nicole.
For almost two hours, the audience discovered a surprising mix of Arab tunes and some flamenco sound, like when they played Zyryab, by Paco De Lucia, an artist they would like to work with, or jazz influences introduced by the double bass, and even some African beat with the help of the percussionist.
When describing their style, the brothers say it is “avangarde”, which means that “we are creating something original from different elements”.
This concert was dedicated to Gaza.
Before playing the third song, Elia took the time to dedicate the concert “to all Palestinians, especially the people from Gaza”, where the band was supposed to perform before the Amman concert.
“We called it ‘A Walk in Jerusalem’ because the tour was supposedly starting in Jerusalem and ending in Amman. Unfortunately, all was cancelled in Palestine because of the last Israeli attack of Gaza,” said Elia.
The brothers still hope to play in Palestine one day.
After the Amman performance, The Khoury Project members are expected to return to France, where they will work to make Arabic music and instruments more accessible to the West.
Their belief is that “music can really unite different cultures if the musical product itself contains elements from different cultures and speaks to both sides”.