TORONTO, 20.03.21- – Toronto’s world music group Al Qahwa Ensemble released their third album African Routes in November, 2020 and will celebrate the release with a livestream performance from Koerner Hall on Friday, April 9, 2021 from 8:00 pm to 9:30 pm. A new video of the track “Lullaby” will also be coming out on March 26. The ensemble, from varied backgrounds are Egyptian-Canadian Maryem Tollar on vocals, riqq (Arabic tambourine) and qanun (Arabic table harp); Canadian Ernie Tollar on wind instruments; Greek-Canadian Demetri Petsalakis on oud (Arabic fretless lute), and Iranian-Canadian Naghmeh Fahrahmand on Middle Eastern percussion. Special guests include Waleed Abdulhamid, Fethi Nadjem and Roula Said. The event will also showcase Maryem’s other ensemble Turkwaz, which includes members Jayne Brown, Sophia Grigoriadis, and Brenna Maccrimmon, who will do a short set of music and will join Al Qahwa and their guests for a few songs. Roula Said will be adding some dance for a great celebratory evening of music and joy. African Routes is available on all platforms where music is streamed or downloaded. For more information please visit their website | FB Event

Since their break-out album The Coffee House in 2016, Al Qahwa Ensemble has performed original compositions, instrumental improvisations, as well as popular traditional Arabic repertoire – from hypnotic Sufi Devotional Love songs from the Arab world, to popular folk songs, to classic Egyptian songs. Following their highly acclaimed sophomore album Cairo Moon, the group released African Routes which continues to breathes new life into traditional Arabic songs alongside innovative originals.

The beautifully animated video for "Lullaby" (from African Routes), was created by Allison Long and Micha Pichlkastner with audio recorded by Reza Moghaddas at Small World Music Centre and mixed and mastered by Jono Grant at Victory Drive Recording. Maryem wrote "Lullaby" when she was pregnant with her third child, and each of the three verses is dedicated to each of her children – Omneya, Joska, and Janos. The key to this beautiful, gentle melody lies in the delicate interplay between the African kora (a plucked string instrument), and the Syrian qanun (Arabic table harp), balanced against the sweet lyra (a bowed string instrument).

Al Qahwa gratefully acknowledges the funding support of the Canada Council for the Arts “Explore and Create” grant.


Maryem Tollar - vocals; Ernie Tollar - ney flute, vocals; Demetri Petsalakis - riqq, vocals; Naghmeh Farahmand - dumbek, vocals) featuring guest artists: Roula Said - dance, vocals; Fethi Nadjem - gimbre, vocals; Waleed Abdulhamid - bass, vocals.