The Al Firdaus Ensemble
The Al Firdaus Ensemble based in Granada, Spain, was founded in 2012 by the English violinist and singer Ali Keeler and includes musicians from England, Spain and Morocco. The group takes its inspiration from the Arabic and Persian word Firdaus, referring to the most elevated abode in Paradise. The intercultural nature of this name reflects the character of the group in which musicians from different countries and cultural backgrounds are brought together with one purpose.
The unique sound of the Al Firdaus Ensemble is the synthesis of different musical genres, which includes original compositions of a more Western classical character with influences from both Celtic and Flamenco traditions, and new arrangements of songs drawn from the rich heritage of traditional Sufi music from Arabic, Andalusi and Turkish sources. The words of the songs are mainly in Arabic drawn from the poetry of the great Sufis from Al Andalus and the Arab world such as Ibn Arabi and Al Shushtari.
Within their repertoire are also musical adaptations of poems in Aljamiado, old Spanish written by the Moriscos using the Arabic script. The Al Firdaus Ensemble hopes to revive the heritage of the Moriscos whose culture was forbidden in its day and has only reached us through manuscripts which they left behind on their expulsion in 1609, only to be discovered recently hidden in old houses.
The Al Firdaus Ensemble has performed in concerts and international festivals throughout Europe, Bosnia, United States of America, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey, Lebanon, and Malaysia. They have also released two CDs entitled “Safa” in 2014 and “Nur” in 2017. They also have an active YouTube channels with tens of thousands of subscribers, with some of their music videos hitting the millions of views.