Les Arrivants (The Arrivals) is comprised of Amichai Ben Shalev, Abdul-Wahab Kayyali, and Hamin Honari, three musicians who settled in Montréal during the COVID-19 pandemic between the summers of 2019 and 2020. Through the lens of this unique moment in history, they met and discovered their new home city as lockdowns and uncertainties permeated their lives.
The repertoire Les Arrivants has developed mirrors their resettlement experience. It is informed by the traditions the instrumentalists have mastered throughout their careers – Argentine Tango, Classical Arabic music, and traditional Persian rhythms. It equally reflects the musical possibilities that can only emerge out of a cosmopolitan centre such as Montréal. In other words, Les Arrivants have created an introspective sonic experience that depicts the relationships and views of newcomers to Montréal, while channeling complex emotions associated with migration and travel.
Their music captures the highs and lows of the resettlement– experience, the nostalgia and longing for places and people left behind, and the search for new comforts and goals. It also expresses the joys of seeing friendly faces in times of great uncertainty and turmoil, and anger at global injustices and inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic.
Amijai Shalev (Bandoneon): Amijai earned his degree from the “Manuel de Falla” Conservatory of Buenos Aires in 2012, he studied under the tutelage of maestro Rodolfo Daluisio, the great pioneer of concert bandoneon. He has forged a career encompassing the full range of the bandoneon: from solo classical to orchestral works, from tango to heavy metal compositions. Notable highlights include performing as a soloist in the world premier of “Fiori Musicali for Bandoneon and String Orchestra” Opus 131, no.3 by Rodolfo Daluisio at the Artes Vertientes Festival in Brazil, in the piece “Summer Band” by Daniel Teruggi at the first festival of Electro-acoustic Music in Buenos Aires, soloist with the Jerusalem Symphony and bandoneon solo concerts at the University of Toronto and Cornish School of Arts (Seattle). In 2018 he gave a masterclass for composers at the Canadian Music Centre in Toronto, lectures at the University of Montreal and McGill, and in 2019 a workshop and concert at the University of Berlin. Shalev is the creator of Bandoneon TV, the first YouTube channel dedicated to bandoneon studies.
Abdul-Wahab commenced his oud studies in 1989 at the National Music Conservatory of Amman, Jordan under the tutelage of Sakher Hattar. While in Amman, he also received tutelage and guidance from Iraqi oud virtuoso Munir Bashir. As a soloist and a member of the Conservatory’s Arabic Music Ensemble, he participated in many of the Middle East’s musical and cultural festivals (see select participations below), including Jerash Festival for Culture and Arts and the Arabic Music Festival in Cairo. In the United States and Canada, Kayyali performed both as a soloist and ensemble member with various groups in Boston, Massachusetts, Chicago, Illinois, Washington, DC, Detroit, Michigan, and most recently Montreal, Quebec. Additionally, he has given lectures and workshops on Arabic oud, maqam theory, and Arabic music history. In 2012, Abdul-Wahab established the Juthoor project, and in 2019, he established the Etihad Middle Eastern Music Salon. He released his debut solo album “Juthoor” in 2020
Persian Hand Drums
Hamin is an Iranian-Canadian hand drummer who has specialized on the Persian hand drums tombak and daf. Hamin studied traditional drums from an early age with artists such as Ramin Bahrami and Pejman Haddadi. Hamin has focused on adapting his drumming style and technique to accommodate many different genres of music. He has performed in Persian-classical projects such as the world-renowned Dastan Ensemble, as well as with the Vancouver-based Vashaan Ensemble. He has accompanied many traditional artists such as Salar Aghili, Parissa, Hossein Omoumi, Hossein Behroozinia, and Saeed Farajpouri. Hamin stands out as a musician who has successfully branched out beyond his traditional musical upbringings and lent his music to projects such as Kiya Tabassian’s “Contantinople”, Gordon Grdina’s “The Marrow”. He actively performs in projects with other artists such as Itamar Erez (guitar), Francois Houle (clarinet), and vocalist Ayelet Rose Gottlieb. He is currently writing music for his first album for percussion and vocals.