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Gulaza / Yemen

Members of the group invite listeners to a world of prayer, passion, love and the longing for freedom. The world of tradition rediscovered, interpreted in their own way and performed in their own style.

Gulaza’s project is particularly strongly related with the fascinating heritage of Yemenite women’s songs. Mystical texts passed down from mother to daughter for generations get a modern sound and contemporary meaning in the instrumental arrangement developed by the ensemble. The combination of traditional string instruments from the Sahara region, the cello and the acoustic guitar, and the fact that the songs are for the first time sung by a male vocalist – all that creates a unique whole. Yemen and Africa are separated by the sea. Gulaza expresses that sea, ”the sea of despair, prayer, dance, love and the longing for freedom”, as the musicians say.


The term ”Gulaza” first occurred when Igal Mizrahi and Ben Aylon, for a European festival, decided to create a duo based on old Yemenite songs and the sound of the African ngoni. Igal, whose father is Yemenite and whose mother comes from Morocco, was born in Algeria.


Years ago he discovered there a fascinating world of Yemenite women. He spent a few years studying traditional songs and texts that expressed the life on the margin of the Yemenite society. The songs that were passed down, like secrets , from mouth to mouth, from mother to daughter, for generations. Ben who explored African cultures and studied in Western Africa, cooperating with the greatest artists and local musicians, grasped the understanding of close intercultural ties. He joined Igala in his journey through the fascinating world of music created by Yemenite women. They started joint work on the songs Igal had collected for years – based on his childhood memories and the meetings with Yemenite women.

The songs from Sanaa (Yemen) – are the main source of inspiration for the repertoire of
Gulaza. Sanaa songs were entered on the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List in 2008. They belong to the rich musical tradition practiced throughout Yemen. The songs are interpreted by a solo vocalist to the accompaniment of two ancient instruments: quanbus (Yemenite lute) and sahn nuhasi, a brass tray which the artist holds in thumbs, gently striking it with other eight fingers. The texts of songs contain highly regarded and often cited extracts from poems which were created in Yemen – the country in which poetry is considered the highest form of literature.


The concert took place in 2016.

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