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Layale Chaker

Layale Chaker.

Early-Career Musician Resident, Fall

During her residency at Dumbarton Oaks, Layale Chaker will be developing Ruinous Gods: Seven Suites for Sleeping Children, an opera in collaboration with librettist and playwright Lisa Schlesinger. This new piece is about seven displaced children who have uppgivenhetssyndrom, or resignation syndrome, a rare trauma response to the state of living in the limbo of displacement. Until recently, uppgivenhetssyndrom was only diagnosed in Sweden but it is now evident in several refugee camps around the world. The sufferer, once vibrant and alive, falls and into a nonresponsive sleep. One survivor describes it as “being trapped in a glass box.” This opera uses elements from myths and fairy tales to create a twenty-first-century fantasia on “sleeping beauties.” The performance is based on documented testimonies from survivors and families of those afflicted by the syndrome and seeks to transform trauma into hope. In resistance to the many dystopian narratives in popular culture, this opera creates space for imagination and agency.

Deemed a “Rising Star” by BBC Music Magazine and raised on the verge of several musical streams since her childhood, violinist, composer, and 2020–2022 Jerome Hill Fellow Layale Chaker’s musical world lies at the intersection of classical contemporary music, jazz, Arabic music, and improvisation. She has collaborated with Oxford Orchestra, the New World Symphony, Babylon Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Ziad Rahbani, Johnny Gandelsman, Holland Baroque, International Contemporary Ensembleperforming at the London Jazz Festival, Alderburgh Festival, Morgenland Festival Osnabrueck, Junger Kunstler Festival Bayreuth, the Lucerne Festival for Contemporary Music, Impuls’ Festival, Beethoven Festival Bonn, and Avignon Festival, among others, and concert halls such as the Berlin Philharmonic, Abbaye de Royaumont, Hancher Auditorium, the Stone, National Sawdust, the Banff Centre, the Royal Albert Hall, and the Wigmore Hall. Her debut album with her ensemble Sarafand was listed as “Top of The World” by Songlines with a 5-star review, rated #2 on NPR’s “10 Best Releases,” #1 for several weeks on the World Charts of iTunes and Amazon Music, and has received praises by the BBC Music Magazine, the New York Times, the Strad, Strings Magazine, and Jazz World, among others. A winner of the Silkroad Seeds inaugural 2020 award and a Nadia et Lili Boulanger 2019 laureate, Chaker is also a finalist of the Rolex Mentor & Protege 2018 Prize, the recipient of the Diaphonique Franco-British Commission Prize 2019, the 2018 Arab Fund for Arts and Culture Grant, the Royal Academy of Music 2018 Guinness Award, and the winner of the Ruth Anderson 2017 Competition.