Aliya Cycon Project: Prayer
Aliya Cycon came to New York City to become a professional ballerina, but quickly turned her career aspirations to music and relocated to Boston’s Berklee College of Music. A visit to the West Bank ignited Cycon’s passion for Middle Eastern music, which led to her adopting the oud—a stringed, lute-like instrument used in the Arabic music tradition—as her primary means of expression and becoming the first female oud player to graduate from Berklee. With her impressive 25-piece Project, Cycon delivers a new album Prayer, which sounds like the soundtrack to an epic theatrical journey, invoking the spirit of Middle Eastern music while incorporating jazzy rhythms helped by the band’s multi-instrumental attack. Songs like “Heartbeat” and the title track showcase both Cycon’s virtuosic oud playing and her skill in crafting engaging melodies and movements, while her gentle vocals lead the way on the triumphant “Motherland” and “House on the Stone.” “Elias,” in particular, may hint at Cycon’s background in dance—its exotic melody and relentless beat evoke a whirling performance playing out in the minds of both artist and audience.