Ras was kept busy through the end of 2016 and start of 2017 working on Requiem for Aleppo, a powerful music and dance performance which debuted in London’s Sadler's Wells Theatre in April 2017.
Requiem for Aleppo was the brainchild of Ras’ long term collaborator David Cazalet. Ras produced David’s first album, Into The Light (released under his performance name Caz Benedict) in 2014 and the two had been working on the follow up album when David started exploring the idea of an East meets West Requiem in support of victims of the Syrian civil war. The project quickly gathered momentum, evolving from an idea into a major and charitable production with all proceeds going to Syrian Reliefdonations were to Syria Relief Charity and Techfugees.
Ras and David produced around 75 minutes of music fusing classical composition with Latin lyrics, Eastern instrumentation and ancient Arabic poetry. From those songs, dance choreographer Jason Mabana created a demanding, beautiful and evocative performance using twelve top contemporary dancers cast from around the world.
Ras brought in Lebanese singer Juliana Yazbeck for the female vocal performances and to assist in translating and adapting the Arabic poetry into song, as well as several trusted session musicians to record specific instruments. All other instrumentation was arranged in Ras’ studio using virtual sample libraries.
The music and dance are complimented by moving audio testimonies from Syrians now residing in the UK having fled the civil war as well as anonymous whatsapp recordings from Syrians unable or unwilling to leave Aleppo. These files arrived in various and often poor quality, which Ras had to clean up or fix the audio on to be able to use in the performance.
Requiem for Aleppo has recently had its second performance, this time at the Edinburgh International Festival. Both performances have been sold out and have received glowing reviews from press and audiences. David is now working towards taking the show on a worldwide tour.
You can see the entire live-stream of the Sadlers Wells debut in the video below - the performance itself starts at 42.00 after introduction and speeches.