Ornina: Women reviving the lost jewels of Syrian and Arabic music

Called after Ornina, goddess of music in Mesopotamia and ancient Syria, our ensemble is leading a revival in the tradition of female music-making by women in the Arab world. In the courts of Baghdad, Cordoba, and Medina women were highly trained in musical composition and performance, as well as in poetry composition and recitation, dance, calligraphy and shadow-puppetry. Despite being slaves, these sophisticated women – known as qiyān – had courtly privileges, and were vital curators of the arts from the 8th to the 13th centuries.

In revitalising this women’s tradition we will recover neglected Arab repertoires, jewels of the classical heritage that have been forgotten. We offer hope to counter the turbulence of the contemporary Arab world, manifesting the collaborative strength of women’s creativity, and recuperating an artistic heritage that deserves celebration.