Ahead of the world premiere of her first opera Ruinous Gods and residency with her band Sarafand at the 2024 Spoleto Festival USA, Layale Chaker is releasing new music. On May 17, 2024, Layale releases two albums in tandem – Vigil and Radio Afloat. The recordings reflect on the intertwined destinies of people and the natural world, which manifest even louder in times of collective pain; a commentary on the ebb and flow of politics, power, and conflict that furthers the vulnerability of the land and those who tend to it. 

Radio Afloat is a recording with Chaker’s chamber jazz quintet Sarafand, made up of Chaker, violin; Phillip Golub, piano and microtonal keyboard; John Hadfield, percussion; Sam Minaie, bass; and Jake Charkey, cello. Conceived as a suite of intersecting movements, Radio Afloat echoes “The Trace of Blue Passion,” a poem by Lebanese author Ounsi el-Hage: 

“… And just as birds flock wisely
I trekked from ocean to ocean
From peak to branch
From night to night to night
Until I was hit
With the prestige of sweet madness.
After we witnessed the extent of birds’ wisdom
I remind you that it is in the nature of creatures
To harm themselves.
I was a turtle on the rocks
Engraved on tree trunks and bolsters
Engraved on rings
Engraved on the ankles of mountains.
And I saw space
So I saw space
And when I saw its beauty, I fell in love with a dove who carried me.
And when she smelled, adoringly, the earth on me
She laid me down in the soil
And from the dove I raised myself…”
(translated from Arabic by Sara Elkamel) 

Sarafand will perform works from Radio Afloat during program II of their Wells Fargo Jazz series residency. See their full schedule and buy tickets here. Plus, hear Chaker’s groundbreaking score in Spoleto’s world premiere of Ruinous Gods 

Layale Chaker, a composer and violinist, was raised in Lebanon speaking multiple languages, both linguistically and musically. Described by NPR as “bright and beautiful strands… gorgeous, wine- dark swirls”, Chaker’s music lies at the intersection of classical music, jazz, Arabic music, and improvisation. Chaker is a 2020-22 Jerome Hill Fellow and recipient of the 2022 Opera America Discovery Award, among many other accolades, and recently completed a year-long residency as part of WQXR’s Artist Propulsion Lab. She has worked with Daniel Barenboim and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Ziad Rahbani, Johnny Gandelsman, Holland Baroque, Oxford Orchestra, New World Symphony, and London Jazz Festival, among others.