“A graceful voice ... As the evening wore on, the overlappings between the East and West traditions grew bolder ... The sheer sound was dizzying”
- Qudduson, The Clerks: Ian Hewett, The Daily Telegraph - (Read full review)

“Merit Stephanos infused the second set with a potent Arabian scent which, during the endearingly titled, "I'm his Darling, he's my Darling", brought the group to the zenith of their inter-genre philosophy. It began as a hard-bop ballad with Mick delivering spacious, Monk- like voicing over terse cymbal effects and rumblings by Clarvis. Stephanos' vocals distinguished themselves with their Middle Eastern intonation, elegance and emotional intimacy. While Mick and Clarvis built to a cinematic depth, Stephanos sang the lyrics with a clear and resounding heart, producing an utterly compelling performance. Fincker contributed with concise abstract calls before weaving Arabic inflections into the fabric of his fundamentally post-bop solo.”
- Vortex Jazz Club Reviews - (Read full review)

“Egyptian Coptic chant .... bewitchingly sung by Merit Ariane Stephanos”
- York Press

“One was aghast at the almost manic improvising skills displayed by Mr Kheir ... and conversely by the delicate, doe-eyed intensity of Ms Stephanosʼs pleading exposition of Hellenic and Near-Eastern trope-filled formulae. Both seemed to live the music, not least when they shared an exotic duet (Ya man laʼibate) over a kind of ostinato in the ubiquitous oud ... Even secular dalliance acquired a feeling of holy rapture, as if the spirit of Rumi and Sufism was hovering in the air.”
- Church Times

A glorious evening of (mostly) unaccompanied vocal music...it gave musical embodiment to some profound cultural truths in a manner that was both serious and wholly accessible. The first sequence closed with chants from the Syriac Church ... and the Coptic Church ... sung by the marvellously expressive Merit Ariane Stephanos.
- Seen and Heard UK Concert Review, St. David’s Hall, Cardiff - (Read full review)

‘The Voice of Jaljala and Hjaz’

Sometimes it is about the musical compositions, the harmonies or the lyrics. But then it can also be about the pure and distinctive voice of someone - like Merit Ariane Stephanos - that once it opens itself to an audience, captures the imagination, heart and longing of the listener.

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Nahla Ink Online Journal (www.nahlaink.com)

‘Choral Explorers’

Merit Ariane Stephanos, one of three singers with backgrounds in various Arab liturgies who have joined the Clerks ... for Qudduson, agrees with Wickham: so-called ‘fusion’ music is often ‘just people thinking something sounds nice, but they don’t really know about their subject’. Stephanos herself has a background in the Coptic (Egyptian Christian) tradition; together with George Qas-Barsoum, a practitioner of Edessan Syriac chant in Aleppo, and Abdul Salam Kheir, a singer, composer and oud player ... she has brought an entirely different musical idiom to the Clerks’ usual repertoire.

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This article appeared in the March/April issue of The Singer magazine. (www.rhinegold.co.uk/thesinger)

‘Arabischer Gesang trifft auf Jazz ’

Sie lebt und arbeitet in London und kommt gerade von einem dreimonatigen Stipendium im Libanon zurück - wie passend, dass Merit Ariane Stephanos ihr Konzert am Samstag, 20 Uhr, im Stadthaus "Eine Reise zwischen Orient und Okzident" untertitelt. Musikalisch verbindet sie christlich-arabische Gesänge mit Jazz-Klavier und der Oud, einer orientalischen Laute.

Es ist eine kreative Verknüpfung, die ihr auch biografisch entspricht. Halb Deutsche, halb Ägypterin, wuchs sie in Reutti auf, wo ihre Eltern noch heute leben. Mit 17 ging sie nach England, machte dort Abitur, studierte dann Musik an der University of Edinburgh, am Goldsmiths College und am Royal College of Music in London.

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Südwest Presse (www.swp.de)

‘British Arabian Nights’

BAX celebrates 40 years of success with an equally successful concert.

"Some of the most innovative performances I have ever heard" - Audience member

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British-Arab Exchanges (www.bax.org.uk)

The Forge: Q & A with Merit Ariane from Jaljala

Q: Who or what has been the greatest influence on your music?

A: "The very first person to instill my love of music in me was my mother. She loves singing and we spent many mornings singing songs from a massive German book of folk and children’s songs. My first words were actually the lyrics of a folk song!

Apart from this, there has not been one single influence on my music – I’ve always taken inspiration from different kinds of music and musicians. However, I do remember when I first discovered Sevdah, the folk music from Bosnia (I lived in Bosnia for one year after university, working for War Child Amsterdam at the Pavarotti Centre in Mostar). Sevdah had a real influence on me, I was captured not only by the beautiful, often sad songs, but also by the fact that they are a real melting pot of cultures, a blend of Arabic, Turkish and European music. Being half German, half Egyptian, I loved hearing the different voices come through together and it inspired me to include all of who I am in my music."

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THE FORGE Music and Arts Venue (www.forgevenue.org)