Alya Al-Sultani is a dramatic soprano, composer of opera and producer based in London, UK. Her first musical experiences were Iraqi folk songs sung by her great grandmother and radio broadcasts of classical Arabic music. After leaving Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, her family settled in Tottenham, North London where she began to discover the incredible new sounds of the 80s, hiphop, jazz and music from the Caribbean.
Apart from working on her own projects, Alya enjoys debuting new music for contemporary composers and experimenting with opera, including the integration of improvisation techniques, microtonal ideas and Middle Eastern influences. Jazz is a constant thread through all of the music she makes – method, aesthetic, structure, rebellion, politics.
In December 2019, she completed the first phase of R&D of a new opera exploring the self-discovery of a Muslim gay man at a perfume counter in Broadway shopping centre in Bradford, commissioned by Freedom Studios.
In 2020, during lockdown, Alya wrote and began R&D on a new full-length opera, Two Sisters, with Arabic libretto. The opera explores the human feelings and decisions around human migration and home, the bond between women and human resilience. She will be developing this opera further over 2020 – 2021.
Recent projects have included debuting music for experimental composer Joseph Namy, recording for composer Clemens Christian Poetzsch in Berlin and performing at the London Bel Canto Festival. She has sung in masterclasses in 2018 – 2019 with Aprile Millo, Bruce Ford and Kenneth Querns Langley.
Alya recently worked at Britten Pears on new compositional and performance methods in working with people living with aphasia and continues to work on development non-hierarchical methods of music making.
She has performed at the Bahrain International Music Festival, Manchester Jazz Festival, Jazz in the Round and in multiple music venues across the UK and Europe with her trio SAWA and solo projects.
Her work with her trio SAWA was featured as part of the BBC Radio 3 session at the Wellcome Trust and she has performed for BBC radio 3 in live sessions. She was also featured on BBC’s Middle East Beats and Al-Arabiya television.
Alya’s other life-long passion is electronic music and is producer and co-owner at South London Space Agency, a new grime label she runs with GRANDMIXXER. She is currently experimenting on integrating electronic sounds and grime energy in her opera composition. She and GRANDMIXXER recently debuted their duo project.
Mariam Rezaei is an award winning composer, turntablist, writer and performer. She leads experimental arts project TOPH, who curate TUSK FRINGE and TUSK NORTH for TUSK Festival. (tuskmusic.org) . Her music has recently been described as ‘ genuinely ground-breaking’ (London Jazz News 2022) and ‘high-velocity sonic surrealism’ (4* The Guardian 2022). Recent releases include ‘SKEEN’ , ‘Veil’, a collaboration with Stephen Bishop on TUSK Editions, ’SISTER’ with soprano Alya Al-Sultani, and TECHNOPOWER on Tusk Editions Mariam presents a podcast on contemporary turntablism called ‘These Are The Breaks…’ and is guest DJ on’ Radical Scotland’ by Stewart Smith, both on repeater-radio.com. ‘BOWN’, the third album in the triptych ‘BLUD : SKEEN : BOWN,’ is due for release, 2022.
Recent notable works include; ‘SADTITZZZ’ LCMF 2022, BBC Radio 3 After Dark Festival, April 2022, Tusk North April 2022. ‘The Sound of Hate’, EKKO Festival, Nov 2021. ‘We Are Not Finished’ with Fevered Sleep, Nov 2021. ‘Wolf’s Tail : II’ for Archipel Festival, April 2021. ‘Paradoxes’, West Den Haag, Jan 2021. Duos with Cath Tyler and Stephen Bishop for TUSK VIRTUAL 2020 and BBC Radio 3 Late Stages, Oct and Nov 2020. BBC Radio Freeness ’SKEEN’, July 2020. ‘AGENCY-SKEEN’, AMPLIFY 2020. ‘The 42 Mirrors of Narcissus’ TUSK Festival 2019. ‘Wolf’s Tail’ HCMF 2019. ’TOP///‘ at Tectonics Mosaic/Cresc. Festival 2018, Wiesbaden, for Ilan Volkov, and Ensemble Modern.
Alya Al-Sultani and Mariam Rezaei will perform at the festival as part of the REMAIIN project, which examines the influence of the music of other continents on the European avant-garde. It is supported by the EU’s “Creative Europe” programme and the Ministry of Culture.