Malek Jandali

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Malek Jandali
مالك جندلي
Malek Jandali composer and pianist.JPG
Background information
Birth nameMalek Jandali
Born (1972-12-25) December 25, 1972 (age 47)
Waldbröl, West Germany
OriginHoms, Syria
Classical Arabic
Film music
Occupation(s)composer, pianist
Years active1981–present
LabelsSoul b Music

Malek Jandali (Arabic: مالك جندلي‎, Mālik Jandalī) (born 1972) is a German-born Syrian-American[1] pianist and composer. He is the founder of the nonprofit organization Pianos for Peace, which aims to build peace through music and education.[2] Jandali immigrated to the United States and studied music in North Carolina. Since then, he has performed with orchestras across the world and composed a number of modern classical works. His music was described as "a major new addition to the 21st century symphonic literature" by Fanfare Magazine[3] with having "heart-rending melodies, lush orchestration, clever transitions and creative textures" by American Record Guide.[4] Jandali's music ranges from chamber works to large symphonic compositions integrating Middle-Eastern and Western influences.[5]


Malek Jandali was born to Dr Mamoun Jandali and Linah Droubi. He has a brother, Rami.[6] Jandali is a cousin of Apple founder Steve Jobs and his biological sister Mona Simpson, a novelist and English teacher at UCLA.[7]

He began his musical career as a classical pianist. He studied at the Arab Institute of Music in Damascus with Vladimir Zaritsky[clarification needed] and Victor Bunin of the Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory.[8][9] Jandali won first place in the Syrian National Young Artists Competition in 1988, and in 1995 received a scholarship to attend North Carolina School of the Arts under Eric Larsen.[9] He graduated from Queens University, where he studied under Paul Nitsch and received the Outstanding Musical Performer Award of the school.[9] While in the Charlotte area, he was an organist and choir director for St. James Catholic Church in Concord, North Carolina.[10] He studied composition and orchestration with Eddie Horst, Harry Bulow, Lawrence Dillon and Richard Prior.[9]

In 2004 he received his master's degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte[8] and in 2015 the Carnegie Corporation of New York named him a "Pride of America" honoree for his notable contributions to society.[11][12] Jandali currently lives in New York City.[13]

Malek Jandali recording with the Royal Philhamornic Orchestra in London in 2014


As performer[edit]

Jandali has performed in London, Cairo, Damascus, Istanbul, Paris, Atlanta, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.,[14] the Stude Hall of the Shepherd School of Music[15] at Rice University in Houston, the Wiener Konzerthaus[16] in Vienna, the Kaufman Center[1] and Carnegie Hall in New York City, National Auditorium in Madrid,[17] Cadogan Hall, The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto,[18] and the Madinat Theater in Dubai.[19]

He has performed with orchestras including the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra,[1] the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,[20] Ludwig Symphony Orchestra, Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra,[21] The Stockholm Solister[22] and the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra at Damascus Opera House.[23]

In 2013 he launched his ongoing world tour "The Voice of the Free Syrian Children" from the Berman Center in Detroit to raise awareness and much needed humanitarian aid for the suffering Syrian children.[24] The tour reached Europe and the Middle East with benefit concerts along with lectures and academic workshops.[25][26]

As composer[edit]

Jandali has composed works ranging from solo instrumental pieces to chamber and large ensemble and orchestral works.[27] He has a special interest in Arab music and combines the maqamat or modes with western harmony in his piano and orchestral compositions.[9] Malek's compositions not only integrate Middle-Eastern modes into Western classical forms and harmony, they echo UNESCO's call to preserve and protect the rich cultural heritage of Syria and the Silk Road at a time when it is being eradicated.[28][29] He incorporates ancient melodies from Aleppo, Damascus and other stops on the Silk Road in his compositions.[30]

He released his first album of compositions for piano and orchestra, Echoes from Ugarit, in June 2009. The album was briefly in the international music charts of the United Arab Emirates.[31] The title track is based on a hymn to Nikkal, one of the Hurrian songs inscribed on cuneiform clay tablets discovered in Ugarit, Syria, and thought to date from 1400 BC and thus to be the oldest notated music in the world.[15][31]

Malek Jandali composer

In early 2012 Jandali released his album Emessa (Homs), which he dedicated to "the Syrian people and their noble quest for freedom - especially the people of Homs".[32] The album includes his Freedom Qashoush Symphony, named for Ibrahim Qashoush, who wrote a song popular with Syrian protesters and who was killed and had his vocal cords torn out.[32]

Jandali's Syrian Symphony was released in late 2014 and premiered at Carnegie Hall in January 2015.[33] The album includes three major works, "Syrian Symphony" presented in four movements recorded with the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra, "Variations for Piano and Orchestra", based on the ancient Syrian theme Lamma Bada Yatathana, which dates back more than 1,000 years,[34] and "Phoenix in Exile", recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London.[35]

In 2015 his latest album SoHo was released, which tells the story of his journey from Syria to SoHo in New York City and contains compositions that are inspired by and named after the works of Sufi poets Rumi and Ibn Arabi as well as poets Rita Dove, Gabriela Mistral among others.[36] The album features his chamber works for piano, oud and cello performed by the Malek Jandali Trio.[36]

Activism and other endeavors[edit]

Jandali is the founder of nonprofit organization Pianos for Peace, which aspires to use the power of music to enrich communities through an annual outdoor festival and several year-round community outreach programs serving under-resourced local schools and organizations in Atlanta.[2][37] He is also the founder of the Malek Jandali International Youth Piano Competition, which encourages talented young pianists from around the globe to embrace the music of their homelands and submit applications for the chance to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City.[38]

Jandali frequently contributes to charity events collaborating with international organization's UNICEF,[39] MSF, Save The Children[40] among others to raise humanitarian aid for children in need around the world. He has visited refugee camps in Turkey, Syria, Croatia and Malta to raise awareness and humanitarian aid for refugees,[41] and was inspired to launch his ongoing world tour "The Voice of the Free Syrian Children" in 2013.[42] That same year he was awarded the GUSI International Peace Prize for his humanitarian and peace activism. In 2014 Jandali was awarded the Global Music Humanitarian Award for his contribution to peace and justice for the Syrian children.

Malek Jandali - Notes For My Homeland

Inspired by stories from the Arab Spring, in April 2011 Jandali wrote Watani Ana (I am my Homeland).[43] In June his scheduled appearance at the annual convention of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) was cancelled, reportedly because he planned to perform Watani Ana.[44] The initial statement issued by the ADC did not make clear the reason for the cancellation,[45] and attracted criticism from other organizations including the Arab-American Institute.[44] The ADC issued a further statement in April 2012, in which it said that it had reached "an amicable resolution" with Jandali.[46]

In July 2011 Jandali performed Watani Ana at a protest in Lafayette Park.[47] Shortly afterwards, his parents, Dr. Mamoun Jandali and Lina Droubi, were severely beaten and their home in Homs was ransacked. Jandali blamed Syrian security forces for the attack, and told reporters that as his mother was beaten, she was told "we're going to teach you how to raise your son."[48] Photographs published on Facebook showed evidence that the couple had been brutally beaten.[49] In September two armed attackers broke into the house and again ransacked it; Jandali's parents were not there as they had fled Syria after the previous attack.[49]

Jandali is regularly invited to speak and participate in panel discussions and academic workshops. He was on the panel of the 2012 Doha Debates at Georgetown University in Qatar[50] and was featured in the 2014 BBC series "What Freedom Looks Like".[51] In 2016, he spoke at the annual Skoll World Forum at Oxford University[52] and Aspen Ideas Festival.[53] Jandali has given lectures, masterclasses and workshops at numerous universities and institutions such as Duke, Rutgers,[54] Fordham,[55] CU Boulder,[56] the Hammer Museum and Complutense University of Madrid.


  • National Young Artists Competition - First Prize - Syria, 1988
  • The Stegner Foundation for the Arts Fellowship
  • Queens University - Outstanding Musical Performer - USA, 1997
  • The 2011 Freedom of Expression Award - CAIR Los Angeles, USA, 2011[57]
  • Culture and Arts Achievement Award, Network of Arab American Professionals of New York, 2012
  • The 2013 GUSI International Peace Prize[58]
  • The 2014 Gold Medal from the Global Medal Awards [59]
  • The Global Music Humanitarian Award, Los Angeles 2014[60]
  • Great Immigrant "Pride of America" Honoree from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, 2015



  • Echoes from Ugarit, 2009
  • Emessa (Homs), 2012
  • Syrian Symphony, 2014
  • SoHo, 2015

EPs and singles[edit]

  • Watani Ana (I am my Homeland), 2011
  • Syria – Anthem of the Free, 2013
  • Ya Allah (O God), 2013[61]
  • The Moonlight, 2015


  1. ^ a b c Raya Jalabi (25 October 2013). Malek Jandali: "I thought: what can I do? How can I help? All I have is music". The Guardian. Archived 26 October 2013.
  2. ^ a b Wendy Parker. "Atlanta Composer From Syria Promotes 'Pianos For Peace'".
  3. ^ Dubins, Jerry (September–October 2015). "Malek Jandali". Fanfare. Joel Bruce Flegler. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  4. ^ Estep, Stephen (April–May 2015). "Jandali". American Record Guide. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Malek Jandali, Mona Simpson & James Gelvin - Hammer Museum".
  8. ^ a b Molouk Y. Ba-Isa (27 May 2008). Digital 'Echos From Ugarit' to Be Heard All Over the World. Arab News. Accessed August 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d e M. Kay Siblani (9 May 2008). From Ugarit to the world. The Arab American News. Accessed August 2013.
  10. ^ Feeback, Beth (September 4, 2011). "Syrian violence touches former Concord musician". Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 2015-12-28.
  11. ^ "Malek Jandali". Archived from the original on 2017-09-20. Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  12. ^ "Queens alum, composer named 'Great Immigrant'". charlotteobserver.
  13. ^ "About - Malek Jandali". Archived from the original on 2018-06-02. Retrieved 2016-04-05.
  14. ^ [s.n.] (14 November 2010). Malek Jandali, pianist in concert: Echoes from Ugarit The Oldest Music in the World Archived 2011-06-13 at the Wayback Machine. The Kennedy Center. Accessed August 2013.
  15. ^ a b [s.n.] (8 October 2010). The Front Row - Composer Malek Jandali. KUHF Houston Public Radio. Accessed August 2013.
  16. ^ Mariam Polding (13 June 2012). Truth, freedom and classical music. Arab News. Archived 13 June 2012.
  17. ^ "Casa Árabe - Recital a cargo de Malek Jandali".
  18. ^ "February Performances at The Royal Conservatory". Archived from the original on 2016-05-20. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  19. ^ "Malek Jandali wows UAE audiences - Art For All". Art For All.
  20. ^ BMG Foundation presents Amwaj with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: 19 June 2012. Cadogan Hall. Archived 9 May 2012.
  21. ^ "Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall with Malek Jandali".
  22. ^ "Malek Jandali".
  23. ^ "Malek Jandali Live in Damascus Opera House!". Intidar Blog.
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Malek Jandali: "The Voice of the Free Syrian Children" Speaks in New York". The Huffington Post.
  26. ^ "The voice of the free Syrian children - by Malek Jandali - Olavsfestdagene 2016". Olavsfestdagene 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-04-09. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  27. ^ Biography. Malek Jandali (self-published). Archived 25 August 2008.
  28. ^ "Syrian-American Malek Jandali promotes peace through music".
  29. ^ Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. "UNESCO reiterates call for unity and coordination to protect Syrian Cultural Heritage".
  30. ^ "Composer Malek Jandali releases his "Syrian Symphony" at Carnegie Hall - An-Nahar".
  31. ^ a b Stephen Starr (8 April 2011). Syrian tablet fragment shatters long-held beliefs about origin of music. The National (Dubai). Accessed August 2013.
  32. ^ a b [s.n.] (4 May 2012). Syrian pianist dedicates work 'for freedom' in Homs. BBC News. Accessed August 2013.
  33. ^ "Composer Malek Jandali releases his "Syrian Symphony" at Carnegie Hall".
  34. ^ "ART BEAT: Ludwig Symphony to feature world premieres, international soloists during concert".
  35. ^ "The Syrian Revolution and the Arts of Resistance - Rutgers University - Newark".
  36. ^ a b "From Syria to SoHo: The Message of the Malek Jandali Trio". The Huffington Post.
  37. ^ "Syrian transplant spreading harmony with Pianos for Peace".
  38. ^ "Local Pianist, 14, Performing at Carnegie Hall Saturday".
  39. ^ "Fundraising Concert In Aid Of UNICEF Syria Children's Appeal #MusiciansForSyria".
  40. ^ "Malek Jandali Trio Performance to Benefit Syrian Children - Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life".
  41. ^ Jalabi, Raya (25 October 2013). "Malek Jandali: 'I thought: what can I do? How can I help? All I have is music'".
  42. ^ "The voice of the free Syrian children - by Malek Jandali - Olavsfestdagene 2016". Archived from the original on 2016-04-09. Retrieved 2016-04-15.
  43. ^ "Syrian Composer Malek Jandali's Arab Spring Inspired Song".
  44. ^ a b [AAI] (10 June 2011). AAI Statement on the ADC Controversy Over Malek Jandali's Performance Archived 2013-09-09 at the Wayback Machine. Arab American Institute. Accessed August 2013.
  45. ^ [adc] (9 June 2011). Statement Regarding Malek Jandali and the ADC Convention. American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Accessed August 2013.
  46. ^ [s.n.] (12 April 2012). ADC Issues Statement on Malek Jandal Archived 2013-02-27 at the Wayback Machine. MECN. Accessed August 2013.
  47. ^ Shomial Ahmad (12 August 2011). Syrian American musician will continue to perform, despite threats. PBA. Archived 2 October 2012.
  48. ^ Tom Watkins (30 July 2011). Syrian musician blames security forces for his parents' beating. CNN. Accessed August 2013.
  49. ^ a b Joe Sterling (27 September 2011). Musician: Syrian security raids family home. CNN. Accessed August 2013.
  50. ^ "The Doha Debates: Arabs reject censorship of the arts - Gulf Art Guide". Archived from the original on 2016-07-09. Retrieved 2016-07-14.
  51. ^ "Malek Jandali: What freedom looks like - BBC News".
  52. ^ "Skoll - Skoll World Forum 2016".
  53. ^ "Malek Jandali - Aspen Ideas Speaker".
  54. ^ "The Syrian Revolution and the Arts of Resistance - Rutgers University - Newark".
  55. ^ "Malek Jandali Live with the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra".
  56. ^ "Syrian-American musician, activist Malek Jandali to perform Sept. 29 at CU-Boulder - College of Music - University of Colorado Boulder".
  57. ^ [Ahram Online] (3 Nov 2011). Malek Jandali honoured with Freedom of Expression Award. Ahram Online. Accessed August 2013.
  58. ^ [s.n.] (9 November 2013). Past UAP president Yolanda Reyes wins Gusi Peace Prize Int'l. The Philippine Star. Archived 11 February 2013.
  59. ^ Global Music Awards (14 December 2014). Music Awards: Winners - December 2014. Global Music Awards. Accessed December 2014.
  60. ^ "Humanitarian Award".
  61. ^ "Ya Allah (Oh God) - Single". iTunes.
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External links[edit]