- label:Piranha Arts AG
- type: Solist, Composer/Songwriter
"As a singer I act as a bridge between the Arab and the Jewish cultures. We always lived together, ate together and sang the same songs together. And suddenly we find ourselves in a fight for the same piece of earth. It is bizarre and that fight is not what we want to do."
Emil Zrihan keeps the Judeo-Andalusian and folk traditions of his mother country Morocco alive in his heart. Born in Rabat, Morocco, he is now cantor at the main synagogue in Ashkelon, one of the oldest cities in the world, situated along the Via Maris which joins Egypt and Syria. The impressive vocal range and power of Zrihan's counter tenor voice express both the emotional intensity of North African religious songs and the vivacity of Andalusian music. His fascinating "mawals" (improvisations), in which he demonstrates the effortless elasticity of his vocal prowess, are subtly enhanced by oud, violin, accordion and darbuka. The upbeat rhythmic tempo with its Mediterranean flavour alternates with passages imbued with the languor of the Orient, a mix which evokes the family gatherings, songs and dances of the Sephardic culture.
With a repertoire that spans his ancestors' Spanish roots, the North African secular music of his youth and Jewish liturgical song, Emil Zrihan shows us why in Ashkelon he is known to all as "the voice of the mocking bird".
Press Quotes"Though technically considered a countertenor Zrihan owns an instrument that transcends the limitations of that term. Certainly the sheer power of his voice in even its stratospheric range dwarfed that of the typical operatic countertenor."
The Boston Globe
"Emil Zrihan, the Moroccan Nightingale, was acclaimed as the surprise of Womex 97. A performer who captivates audiences with his exceptional contra-tenor voice and stage presence. The voice of Emil Zrihan, who stamped a note of deep satisfaction on everything that happened at the Womex Festival, with his holy songs from North Africa and tonal Arabic-Andalusian music."
"Ever since death silenced the righteous, heaven-ascending voice of Pakistan's Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, we've been waiting for a vocal dynamo to step into the void. This Moroccan-born cantor from the Israeli city of Ashkelon fills the bill. Zrihan, dubbed "the voice of the mockingbird," unleashes searing, fantastically ornamented notes that go on and on and on. His face pinks with the effort, then turns rouge, then scarlet, then russet, vermilion, violet and beyond as his marathon vocal lines wind heavenward."
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