Sunday 28 January 2024, 7.30pm

Manara منارة (Khabat Abas / Pat Thomas / Alya Al-Sultani

No Longer Available


1. a fire or light set up in a high or prominent position as a warning, signal, or celebration.

Khabat Abas / cello and self-built instruments
Pat Thomas / piano and electronics
Alya Al-Sultani / voice

Manara is a trio that emerged from a shared enjoyment of pushing the limits of our instruments, an interest in literature and musical traditions of the Middle East and political resistance in its many forms.

In the tradition of classical Middle Eastern music, the compositions start with a poem placed into the hands of a singer. In this case, the poems of Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour; both the poem that sent her to prison for 3 years and the unpublished poem she wrote in her cell.

The trio follows the poems’ beacon in spontaneous collective composition. The debut album will be launched at Café Oto on 28th January 2024.

Khabat Abas

Khabat Abas, cellist and composer from Kurdistan-Iraq. Her work explores the experience of sound, from music to the everyday sounds and noises we hear. It’s a deep dive into how we experience sound, especially in the context of different geopolitical situations. She uses her instrument beyond traditional norms. Khabat improvises, composes, creates sound installations, uses different materials to make a cello, and uses her body, and she challenges conventional musical values and control.

Pat Thomas

Pat Thomas studied classical piano from aged 8 and started playing Jazz from the age of 16. He has since gone on to develop an utterly unique style - embracing improvisation, jazz and new music. He has played with Derek Bailey in Company Week (1990/91) and in the trio AND (with Noble) – with Tony Oxley’s Quartet and Celebration Orchestra and in Duo with Lol Coxhill. 

"Sartorially shabby as Thomas may be, and on first impression even rather stolid, he has a somewhat imperious charisma that’s immediately amplified when he starts to play. Unlike other pianists whose virtuosity seems to be racing ahead of their thought processes Thomas always seems supremely in command of his gift, and his playing, no matter how free and ready to tangle with abstraction, always carries a charge of authoritative exactitude." - The Jazzmann 

Alya Al-Sultani

Alya Al-Sultani is a vocalist and composer based in London, UK. Her first musical experiences were Iraqi folk songs sung by her great grandmother and radio broadcasts of Um Kolthum, Abdel-Halim and Fairouz which she listened to with her family while drinking sweet black tea infused with cardamom. After leaving Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, her family settled in Tottenham, North London where she began to discover the incredible new sounds of the 80s and music from the Caribbean.

Her musical education was entirely classically-focussed, on piano and voice. She learned the importance of technique, tradition, theory, respecting fellow musicians and respecting the music. But she did not learn freedom and it is this she has sought for the last decade. The pursuit of freedom in music is driven by her aesthetic, her immigrant experience and her Eastern feminism.

Apart from working on her own projects, Alya enjoys debuting new music for contemporary composers and experimenting with opera, including the integration of improvisation techniques, microtonal ideas and Eastern influences.