Taraf Syriana

As their name suggests, Taraf Syriana performs Syrian and Romani folk music, featuring a lineup of graduates from top conservatories in Syria and Europe.

The group includes legendary Romani accordionist Sergiu Popa (Moldova), qanun virtuoso Naeem Shanwar (Syria), who was a music professor in Homs before moving to Montreal, Omar Abou Afach, violist from Syrian’s national orchestra from 1993-2015 before immigrating to Canada, and critically acclaimed cellist Noémy Braun.

 Taraf Syriana’s debut album includes famed Romani vocalist/guitarist Dan Armeanca (Romania) plus Nazih Borish on oud (Syria) and vocalist Ayham Abou Ammar (Syria). The album reached #3 on the World Music Charts Europe in February 2023 and #5 on the Translglobal World Music Chart.

We are based in Montreal, Canada. For business inquiries please use the contact form linked below.

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Taraf Syriana album cover

Taraf Syriana


Our debut recording on LulaWorld Records is dedicated to Romani and Syrian

folk music. “Taraf” is the Romani word for musical group. The Domani, the

Romani community of Syria, was estimated to be 250,000 before the war.

The Domani migrated from India over 1000 years ago, arriving in Persia

before eventually settling in Syria. One of Syria’s most renowned

Romani musicians was Mohammed Abdul-Karim (1911-1989), who was

known as the “Prince of the Bouzouk” and composed the tango on this

debut recording.


“We were rehearsing when a mortar struck the music conservatory complex in

Damascus in 2014,” remembers violist Omar Abou Afach, who performed both

violin and viola with Syria’s National Orchestra from 1993-2015.  The attack

caused numerous casualties at the arts centre.  “After the bombing stopped we

were sure that no one would attend that evening’s concert at the Opera House,

just 100 metres away, but that night the hall was full. Even during wartime,

people came to every cultural event. I think it was the only place where people

could get a breath of normal life.”


The Montreal-based group is dedicated to the folk music of Syria and its

neighbours. “In Aleppo, Damascus and other cities, you can hear this diversity

in music, on the streets and on the radio,” recalls Abou Afach, “and that includes

Arabic, Kurdish, Syriac, Armenian, Iraqi, Turkish and Romani music.”


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