PODCAST: Inside Berklee—Christiane Karam

By 
Kimberly Ashton
February 28, 2017
Associate Professor Christiane Karam B.M. '03, founder of the Middle Eastern Festival.
Image by Kelly Davidson

Growing up in Beirut during Lebanon’s Civil War, Christiane Karam B.M. '03 sometimes couldn’t practice the piano because the room the instrument was in was too exposed to bombs. Though she heard their explosions, she also heard other sounds that brought seemingly divided cultures together.

“From very early on I felt compelled to find ways around violent conflict and I found very early on that music put me in a space that felt safe,“ Karam, an associate professor in the Voice Department, says. “And the different languages I grew up with and the different musical cultures, somehow, even though they didn’t feel like they could get along in a very obvious way, I felt that there was a way we could utilize music to bring these cultures together.”

In this episode of Inside Berklee, Karam talks about her musical journey in exploring ways that different cultures intersect and find common ground. As part of this journey, she founded the Middle Eastern Festival in 2009. On March 8, the festival returns to Berklee as part of the Signature Series at Berklee and features the music of celebrated Armenian composer Tigran Hamasyan.

“His sound is about mixing and blending and finding common ground with all the influences that he comes from," she says of Hamasyan. "But also his treatment of the tradition is very special and very unique to him.”