Nureddin Khurshid, born in Damascus in 1966, is the son of Abu al-Nur, sheikh of the Shadhiliyya Sufi order in Damascus. At the age of five, Nureddin was already going regularly with his father to attend the weekly dhikr ceremonies held in the order’s centre, the zawiya, or to Muslim religious festivities such as Mawlid and the Laylat al-qadr (the Night of Destiny). He was taught the Koran and religious knowledge by the order, and also received training in religious singing and chant.
His further education included a period of study in economic science at Damascus University, after which he decided to devote himself to religious studies. Then came training in Koranic recitation and chant with Sheikh Qasim Hiba, followed by his participation in several competitions in Muslim Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran.
His vocal talent and skill soon attracted attention, and in 1987, in response to requests to sing at the many religious festivities of his community, he founded a troupe specialising in performing religious hymns and praise songs of the Prophet.
In order to perfect his skill in the art of maqamat (sing. maqam) – the modal system of classical music – Nureddin continued to study music with various teachers and musicians from Damascus, including Adnan Aylouch and the composers Zouhayr Mnini, Hussein Zahra and Anouar Dyab Agha.
He also received special training for the muwashshahat (sing. muwashshah), the erudite vocal genre par excellence particularly dear to Syrians, who have distinguished themselves in this art of sung poetry for hundreds of years. Treasures from this repertory are included in the repertoire of various orders in Syria and elsewhere in the Arab world.
Translated by Delia Morris
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