Arab Christmas By Candlelight

Arab Christmas by Candlelight **SOLD OUT**

Sat 6 January, 20:00
£18 + bf

***SOLD OUT***

Join us for a very rare opportunity to experience the atmosphere of Christmas in the Arab world.

A candlelit evening of Arabic, Syriac, Coptic and Byzantine chants, harking back to the time of Queen Zanubia’s Palmyra in the second century CE. The sound world of these chants is rich with quarter tones and virtuosic ornamentation.

Artists performing include oud virtuoso Joseph Tawadros, Iraqi oud player Attab Haddad, Lebanese singer Samar El Murr, Syrian violinist USTAVI (Bassel Hariri), liturgical Christmas chants from the Greek Orthodox with Najib Coutya, multi instrumentalist Jon Banks, Lebanese signer SURA, Palestinian storyteller Elias Matar and Dr Rev Shafiq Abouzayd. Full line-up to be announced.

Arab Christmas 2024 is in memory of Elham Farah, a pioneering Christian Gazan music teacher. We will never forget the sound of your accordion and your piano. This event celebrates her life and legacy. Read more about Elham in the tab below.

The evening is presented by Arts Canteen in collaboration with Grand Junction.




Seven-time ARIA award winner, Joseph Tawadros is a world-leading oud performer, storyteller, and composer. Challenging traditional musical forms, and pushing boundaries in metre and melody, this exciting program features original music.

Josephs works take inspiration from the Arabic modal system (maqam) and blends it seamlessly with elements of western classical, jazz, world, folk, metal and bluegrass.

Joseph has performed his own works with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, BBC Symphony, Melbourne, WA and Adelaide Symphony, Ukraine National Orchestra, Camerata Salzburg, the Morphing Chamber Orchestra and his Concerto for Oud & Orchestra with the Sydney Symphony was performed and released by ABC Classics, Australia in 2019. He was also the first and only Australian composer to be performed by the Academy of Ancient Music in the United Kingdom.


Najib Coutya will perform liturgical Christmas chants from the Greek Orthodox tradition, in the style of Arabic maqam and improvisation. They will also sing non-liturgical, religious Christmas hymns, accompanied by Oud. Singer and oud player Najib was born in Tripoli, Lebanon, where he lived until moving to London in 1991. He had a very musical upbringing as his father was a choirmaster and singer of Byzantine and Arabic Church music, renowned across the Middle East.

Najib is the co-founder of Ichos Ensemble. This group has a Turkish violinist, a Greek singer, and Najib, who plays the oud and sings. They play a mixture of Turkish and Greek songs, Greek rebetiko music and Arabic and Ottoman classical music. He also collaborates with Egyptian classical musicians in the maqam tradition, often playing material by legendary #Egyptian singer Umm Kulthumm.


A specialist on the accordion and Middle Eastern string instruments. Jon’s group ZRI regularly records and toursthroughout Europe, with programmes ranging from gypsy reinventions of Brahms, Schubert and Janáček (recently commissioned by the Boswil Festival in Switzerland), to Charlie Chaplin silent film presentations. Jon also performs with The Jocelyn Pook Ensemble, Notes Inégales, the Dufay Collective and Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments, touring in the Middle East and the Americas. He is also a regular performer and musical director at the Globe Theatre, and he records for film and television. Jon lectures at Anglia Ruskin University, and his publications include a book on early renaissance consort music, chapters for the Cambridge History of Musical Performance and Early Music, as well as articles on itinerant dulcimer players and Turkish music preserved in historic English clocks

Attab Haddad is a oud player and composer. He was born in the UK to Iraqi parents. After graduating with a degree in Business Management, Attab embarked on a career in business and finance, starting in property investment before moving to the City to work in private banking. In his mid twenties, Attab quit the City to re-train as a sound engineer and it was during this period that he started playing the oud and discovered a surprising aptitude and affinity for the instrument.

He has collaborated with many artists in many genres (Juan Martin, Cerys Matthews, Max Baillie, John Metcalfe, Eugene Skeef, Clara Sanabras, Ramon Ruiz, to name a few) as co-composer, producer, musician and session player and featured as a guest on various albums. He is a key member of the contemporary and Classical crossover group The Sabina Rakcheyeva Ensemble, as well as being a founding member of the Flamenco fusion band Alcazaba.

A Lebanese singer specialising in Arabic vocal music with a special interest in early Arab Christian chant where she performed at several festivals and music concerts in London and beyond. Samar is also a member of Al Asheqeen musical group.
A Syrian violinist from Aleppo who has dedicated his music career to exploring different avenues of expressing the sound of the Arab violin. His work spans across a wide array of experimental projects in different genres (Jazz, blues, folk & electronic). founder of “JamArabia” an international reach providing an open space for musical creativity that aims at exploring cultural diversity by bringing together professional and amateur artists to share their music and stories with music and art lovers across the globe. Through these jam sessions, he facilitates a space for creating fresh, authentic, and human-focused music while inducing dialogue that challenges all political and social norms and assumptions surrounding music making, especially in the Arab world, with a special interest in maqam, looping to engage more deeply with Arab maqam in a global context.
The senior Melkite Greek Catholic priest in Britain, has been a priest at the Maronite Church since 1987. Of joint Lebanese and British nationality, Rev Dr Abouzayd studied Aramaic-Syriac and Arabic at the monastery of the Lebanese Maronite Missionaries in Jounieh and is currently the director for the Aram Centre for Syro Mespotoamian Studies at Oxford University.
Sura started her music journey studying opera at the Lebanese Conservatoire. Having moved to London, Sura brings sounds from the Levantine region, in a quest to reconnect with her heritage and to invite the multicultural colourful audience in London into a shared human experience with a Middle Eastern touch.

Director, playwright, drama therapist and Storyteller, grew up in Ibillin Village in the Galilee and is now based in London. Elias has performed in a number of festivals around the UK, his latest work was directing Olive Jar commissioned by Shubbak Festival at Grand Junction.


Arts Canteen

Established in 2010, we curate and produce events, exhibitions and festivals that support emerging, mid-career and established artists from the Arab world and surrounding regions, bringing their work to new audiences in the UK and beyond. We now have an international reputation for excellence and innovation in our work.

Date: 6 January 2024

Start Time: 20:00

Doors: 19:00

Bar:  Open from 19:00. We serve a selection of craft beer, wine, soft drinks and snacks.

Length: approx. 2 hours

Tickets: £18 + bf

We recommend pre-booking tickets to guarantee entry. Booking on the door will result in an additional fee of £1.

Venue: Grand Junction at St Mary Magdalene’s Church, Rowington Close, London W2 5TF

Closest Stations: Royal Oak (Circle and Hammersmith & City line) 0.3 miles

Warwick Avenue (Bakerloo line) 0.4 miles

Paddington Station (National Rail services and Circle, District, Bakerloo, Hammersmith & City line) 0.9 miles


Arab Christmas 2024 is in memory of Elham Farah, a pioneering Christian Gazan music teacher. We will never forget the sound of your accordion and your piano. This event celebrates her life and legacy.

Elham was born in 1939, the daughter of a prominent Palestinian poet, Hanna Farrah. She taught music in Al Kamaliya and Al Kahira schools in Gaza City and at many cultural centres and kindergartens. She lived by herself in a small apartment in the city. She had survived many wars, yet she described the current war in Gaza as the worst thing she’d ever experienced.

For almost a month, Elham took shelter in one of only two churches still standing in Gaza along with hundreds of others to avoid shelling, crossfire, and shrapnel. While there she comforted those around her with her strong faith. On 12 November, she insisted on leaving the church to check on her home and breathe fresh air. As she arrived at her building, a sniper on the apartment roof shot her in the leg. Neighbours who tried to go to her were shot at. She died of her wounds where she lay.

a woman wearing glasses and a hat