Adventurous Connections with the Middle East and North Africa

An inspiring encounter with the ambitious musicians from a troubled region

Merlijn Twaalfhoven
Hannibal Saad
Neil van der Linden
  • event type:Classical:NEXT 15 conference
  • date:21 May 2015
  • time:11:30 - 12:15
  • city/area:Rotterdam
  • venue:De Doelen - Conference Room 3
  • country:Netherlands
  • event posted by:Piranha Arts

Chaired by:

Merlijn Twaalfhoven (The Netherlands)
Composer, Kronos Quartet, New York Philharmonic,
Netherlands Chamber Choir


Neil van der Linden (The Netherlands)
Curator & MENA music specialist

Hannibal Saad (Syria)
Artistic director, Music and Beyond

An opera based on postcards from Aleppo; a national youth orchestra in Iraq, melodies from refugee children performed by the New York Philharmonic and; a concert at a checkpoint?

The Middle East and North Africa are not the first regions to think about opportunities for classical music professionals. But if you look closer, it’s full of talented and ambitious people who use music in an ultimate way to empower their communities and to connect to the outside world.

Composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven works with musicians from all ages and backgrounds across the Middle East. Together with the world’s leading MENA music specialist Neil van der Linden, and Syrian music producer Hannibal Saad, he will present a range of practical ways to connect, not only to an inspiring blend of musical traditions, but also to the ideals, dreams and hopes of a new generation of musicians from the Arab world.


Merlijn Twaalfhoven:
From Carnegie Hall to refugee camps and back, Merlijn Twaalfhoven is convinced of the binding and transformative power of music, connecting cultures, styles and above all people. He is currently working with Kronos Quartet, New York Philharmonic, Netherlands Chamber Choir. He won a UNESCO award (2011).

Neil van der Linden:
Neil van der Linden curates music, theatre and visual arts projects related to the Middle-East and North Africa, as well as in Pakistan, Hong Kong and The Netherlands. This includes more theoretical topics like preservation in relation to the development of arts. He also co-edits the online Gulf Art Guide.

Hannibal Saad :
Hannibal Saad is a music manager and festival artistic director. He created and ran two major international music festivals and conferences in Syria until the crisis began. Hannibal now runs the Global Week 4 Syria,Syrian Music Lives and other international cross-over projects between the Arab world and the rest of the world.

Photo credits: Merlijn Twaalfhoven by Merijn van der Vliet