Houssam El Din Primo...Life and singing like a rainbow

Houssam El Din Primo…Life and singing like a rainbow

His most important contribution was his vision of the collective choir as an entrepreneurial project (Twitter)

Singing together is our way to learn how to live together. A phrase that will probably not occur to anyone in the Arab region. Oh God, there are only a few, who gather deep musical knowledge with a distant cosmic vision. Syrian musician and educator Husam El Din Primo (1961 – 2022), who passed away a few days ago, was one of them. He adopted that phrase, with a firm conviction, throughout his artistic career, which spanned forty years. He made it a purpose for him, that it might give life a tinge of eternity.

In group singing, everyone learns to hear one, and one learns to hear all. No voice is louder than sound, except as required by the task. A valid voice is only valid for the rest of the votes. Dissolve differences, disappear ranks, the survival of the difference. Thus, the group develops a common understanding of how to practice living together, and a mutual awareness of the problems of working in a team. Its collective awareness of the value and importance of cooperation and coordination, and acceptance of differences in whims and ideas, beyond music and singing, to building a healthy society, as a choir, increases and harmonious. To that end, Houssemeddine Primo gave his soul, body and time.

Strive to learn to sing based on its local and international origins. In the Levantine Church, one of the first choir houses in the East, he absorbed the Eastern Syriac and Byzantine lyrical heritage rooted in the Levant for more than two thousand years. He learned the rules of church singing, its etiquette, and the methods by which monophonic hymns were taught and composed according to the oriental rhythms of the maqam and their transitions, in a torn, scrawled and extended linear style. At the Higher Institute of Music in Damascus, the most prestigious educational institution in Syria in preparing trained musical cadres, he studied Western classical singing. Experience how a polyphonic chorus is built, that is, when not all members necessarily sing the same melody on the same note.

With the presence and supervision of foreign experts, he observed how Western choirs are trained and trained, plans and programs are drawn up for them, and songs and compositions are composed and distributed for them. In the Ministry of Education, and through his work in its technical facilities, he realized the value of instilling the culture of collective singing early in the new youth, before rushing to work at the top of the pyramid, by establishing and rehabilitating adult and professional teams, to work in theaters and attend festivals.

For this, he developed a fatherly affection, combining wisdom and patience, compassion and care, and, if necessary, firmness and sternness. I merged with him all, as an inner chorus, and behind his ever wide smile, I formed his complex and unique personality. It became a distinctive social art mark among his friends, colleagues, peers, and, most importantly, his students.

As for his deepest and lasting contribution, it may have been his vision of the collective choir, as a pioneering, independent project, approaching in terms of authority and function, the form of a civil society institution. That vision deepened in his early third millennium, in light of the partial and relative openness shown by the Syrian authorities regarding the manifestations of social mobility. A glimmer of hope and a moment of recovery, the musician and the diligent and ambitious educator seized it in order to launch his project, to establish a community choir, which has no official status or religious identity that limits its members, but is open to all Syrians, as citizens, not subjects or employees. Thus, it began with the choir “Rainbow”. It included forty singers and singers, including the professional and the amateur. The choir was well received by all social strata, and encouraged by private and official parties.

For Houssam El Din Primo, the “rainbow” was nothing but the spectrum that will produce many colors, and the trunk from which new branches branch. In connection with his educational past and his pioneering present, he launched a choir “Alwan” for children between the ages of seven and thirteen, which included seventy girls and boys. Then the “Ward” choir for young people, and the “Sana” choir for adults, and not ending with an educational choir for children under six years old, through which they interact together through both movement and sound, and then an instrumental music ensemble, which performs the tasks of accompanying the choirs musically, under the name “Nada”.

Perhaps the “Rainbow” (holding), so to speak, is the first local effort to establish a musical artistic institution outside the official institution represented by the Ministry of Culture, Education and Information. This independent institution had a close dual goal, on the one hand, to bring music closer to the public, not only from the window of listening and tasting, but also as a contribution to production, through participation with professional peers. On the other hand, striving to create more opportunities, albeit within limited pronunciations and modest capabilities, provides a small amount of profit, in front of professional groups, graduates of the Higher Institute of Music and the Faculty of Music Education, instead of being satisfied with relying on the state, in its absorption of musical competencies, within the jobs governmental. As for the long-term goal, it is to invest in strengthening the culture of collective singing within the Syrian society, drawing an image that crosses religion, age group and social class. Thus, the choir becomes a tool of social construction, or in the words of the utopian language that was used in the tongues of Syrian intellectuals at the beginning of the millennium; Citizenship tool.

Hence, music for him was more a means than an end. In order to own the means, in order to reach the end, Hossam El Din Primo possessed the traits that distinguished the entrepreneurial personality. He kept his project alive, despite the horror that afflicted the country, with intelligence and insight, tact and flexibility, arrogance and stubbornness, and acceptance of negotiation with the current reality, in light of the Syrian and Arab conditions, which were often frustrating and discouraging. So, whoever knew Hossam El Din Primo, he was shocked by his departure. Whoever knew his wide smile, his cheerful spirit, and the abundance of positive energy that pervaded his presence, his uncle, that he would live forever.

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