Osama's bio

Osama Abdulrasol is a composer, producer, qanunplayer and visual Artist. He was born in Babylon (Iraq) and he studied western music (classical guitar) in the UK and eastern music (qanun or Arabic lap harp) in Iraq. Belgian cultural prize winner 2013 - Gent He wrote music for several projects, for film, theatre, and also several songs. He arranged and produced music for and performed with different musicians from different backgrounds. Arabic, Jazz, experimental, Indian, Turkish bands and more.

He performed and toured

He performed and toured almost everywhere in the world with different groups like the symphonic orchestra of Antwerpen (de Filharmonie) and the Flemish Radio Orchestra, both conducted by Dirk Brossé, with Goran Bregovic, the Dutch Metropole Orchestra, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Lucilla Galeazzi, Claron McFadden, Roby Lakatos, Assala Nasri, Jahida Wehbe, Tom Robinson, BJ Scott, Wannes Van de Velde, Luc de Vos, Dick Van der Harst, Waed Bou Hassoun, Arifa, Olla Vogala, Melike, Oblomow, Izaline Callister, Djamel, Nahdha, Mesopotamia, Weshm, Lula Pena, Elftwelvtrio, Ghade Shbeir, Woestijn 93, Les ballets C de la B and several other groups and theatre productions.

Full story

Osama Abdulrasol is an Iraqi Qanun player, composer, producer, and visual Artist. He was born in Babylon, as a descendant of a very religious family. Because music was forbidden at home, Osama had to learn how to play music in secret during his entire childhood. Obsessed as he was with music, he started studying it virtually - from books, only in his mind. Until he left Iraq as an adult, he could never even afford to buy a music instrument. His father never knew that Osama had become a professional musician.

In his hunger for music he discovered jazz. When he went to Baghdad to ask about it in small music stores, the record seller gave him a cassette with the title 'Jazz' on it, written in Arabic - without names, or a title. It was 20 years later during a concert in Belgium, that Osama would realize that it was a recording of Toots Thielemans.

The young Osama played every instrument he could get his hands on: starting with accordion, going to violin, oud and guitar – playing classical music, folk, rock and heavy metal on them. Not satisfied by that, he learned to play the clarinet and the saxophone – at least, until his reeds were finished and he discovered that there were no places in Iraq where you could buy new reeds.

It was only when he left Iraq that he discovered the Arabic harp or qanun, one of the most ancient instruments. He learned to play this complicated instrument all by himself, and soon they became inseparable. He then settled down as a musician and started his career as a qanun player and composer.

Needing to leave Iraq, Osama came to Belgium. The cultural and musical diversity in Europe, with so many influences and possibilities, opened a totally new world for him, and very soon he started working with different musical personalities such as Goran Bregovic, Claron McFadden, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Lucilla Galeazzi, Roby Lakatos, Assala Nasri, Lula Pena, Wannes Van de Velde and many more.

The young Iraqi boy thus became a cosmopolitan and now plays almost everywhere in the world, both as a soloist and guest, and with his own ensembles.
In 2013 he was awarded with the Belgian – Gent Cultural Prize for his extraordinary musical personality and his cultural achievements.

Osama has played with:

De Filharmonie, The Flemish Radio Orchestra (conducted by Dirk Brossé), The Dutch Metropole Orchestra, Les C de la B, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Goran Bregovic, Roby Lakatos, Claron Mc Fadden, Lucilla Galeazzi, Lula Pena, Assala Nasri, Jahida Wehbe, Mike Massy, Tom Robinson, BJ Scott, Wannes Van de Velde, Dick Van der Harst, Luc De Vos, Waed Bou Hassoun, Arifa, Olla Vogala Melike, Oblomow, Weshm, De Kolonie – muziektheater, Muziektheater Transparant. any many more


Night 352 - composition for Brussels jazz orchestra
Black the movie
Rebel - movie
Soil - Netflix serie
The Golden Harvest (documentary)
Osama Abdulrasol Quintet - Jedid - CD
Osama Abdulrasol - Sumerian Harp
Dihya - music theatre
Uum music theatre
78 sky & Rahil - composition for Babylon orchestra
Tempus Fugit - contemporary dance with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui
Requiem - ballet & opera
Photos in the storm - Music theatre
Luthomania - Peregrina
Jahida Wehbe & Osama Abdulrasol ensemble - Shahd
Osama Abdulrasol - Elarouse
Arifa - Beyond Babylon
Turquaze film
Tri a Tolia - Zumurrude/ Homerecords
Melike - Macar Longdistance/ Harmonia Mundi
Djamel Hamza/Wild Boar Music, Djamel'ntia 'ntia/ Wild Boar Music
Oblomow-Sporen/ Wild Boar Music
Alshwak- Wannes Van de Velde- Djar /Provincie Antwerpen
Wouter Vandenabeele- Chansons sans paroles/ Homerecords

The ancient Arabian sagas from the famous stories of One Thousand and One Nights still appeal to the imagination today. When the tale about the white slave princess Zumurrude (night 352) was reworked into a modern parable especially for Osama Abulrasol, the Iraqi composer and qanun player was immediately inspired to write new compositions. For Night 352, he joins forces with Brussels Jazz Orchestra.

While writing the music for this project, Osama Abdulrasol incorporated his own story as well as that of Zumurrude. Night 352 offered Brussels Jazz Orchestra a chance to dive into the complex patterns of classical Arabian music. More than a union of a western jazz orchestra with an Arabian harp, the arrangements (by a.o. Callum Au, Frank Vaganée and Pierre Drevet) are the result of a mutual fascination for both genres. Together with Jahida Wehbe (vocals), Osama Abdulrasol and BJO approach the century-old story of Zumurrude from a fresh and contemporary perspective.

Modern fairy tale
When writer Hazim Kamaledin (Longlist International Arabic Booker Prize 2015) rewrote the story about night 352 for Abdulrasol, he imagined how the blond slave Zumurrude would rise from the pages of the ancient book and relive her life anew today. In the stories of One Thousand and One Nights, this blond slave princess plays a key role in the sagas from night 345 to 364. It became a modern fairy tale about contemporary slavery, but also about the passion for music and how it can expand someone’s horizons - something that composer Abdulrasol can talk about from experience.
"The music will take the audience on an adventurous journey, but I also hope they will pick up on some of the universal themes we deal with in this project. Ghent is my home town now, but people should not forget how complex it is to make a place your home. Night 352 is not just a retelling of an old story, it is also about contemporary slavery, the passion for music and how it can push one's boundaries. There are countless people like Zumurrude today, who overcome all kinds of obstacles because they continue to hope for a better life." - Osama Absulrasol.

In the new compositions, Abdulrasol mixes tradition, present and future, but also reality and imagination. Callum Au, Pierre Drevet, Geoffrey Fiorese, Gyuri Spies and Frank Vaganée arranged the music for Brussels Jazz Orchestra. The Middle Eastern fairy tale provides the background, the music tells the story.

Qanun & compositions: Osama Abdulrasol
Vocals: Jahida Wehbe
Arrangements: Callum Au, Pierre Drevet, Geoffrey Fiorese, Gyuri Spies & Frank Vaganée
Percussion: Francois Taillefer
Adaptation from 1001 nights: Hazim Kamaledin
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