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Issa Boulos

Innovative Musical Bridge Builder

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Date of Birth:



Jerusalem, Palestine

Place of Birth:

Why Featured?

Mastering Traditional and Contemporary Music Fusion

Brief bio

Issa Boulos, a Palestinian-American 'ud player, composer, ethnomusicologist, and educator, has significantly impacted the world of music by blending traditional Arab music with contemporary forms. Born into a family with deep musical and literary traditions, Boulos began his musical journey at a young age and has since navigated between cultures, contributing to musical understanding and innovation.

Major Milestones


  • Early Musical Education: Started studying voice at the age of 7 and 'ud at 13 in Ramallah, showcasing prodigious talent in Arab classical maqam repertoire...See More

  • Professional Music Career: By the late 1980s, Boulos had released albums such as "Al-'Ashiq" and "Rasif al-Madinah," marking the beginning of a prolific composing period.

  • Academic Pursuits: Moved to Chicago in 1994 to further his music education, studying composition at Columbia College Chicago and Roosevelt University, and later obtaining a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Leiden University.

  • Musical Direction: Served as the director of Birzeit University’s musical group Sanabil and the University of Chicago's Middle East Music Ensemble.

  • International Recognition: Boulos's compositions have been performed globally, earning him numerous awards and fellowships. He has also contributed to the creation of significant music festivals and educational programs.

  • Fusion of Traditional and Contemporary: Boulos has expertly blended traditional Arab music with contemporary forms, creating a unique sound that respects tradition while embracing modernity.

  • Education and Outreach: Through workshops and lectures at prestigious institutions, Boulos has shared his expertise and passion for music, fostering understanding and appreciation of Arab music traditions.

  • Musical Direction: His leadership roles in various music ensembles and as coordinator at the Harper Community Music and Arts Center have influenced countless students and musicians.

  • Composition and Performance: Boulos has composed music for orchestras, chamber ensembles, and solo performances, contributing to a diverse range of music literature.

  • Cultural Preservation and Innovation: Through his work, Boulos has played a crucial role in preserving Arab music traditions while also pushing the boundaries of musical expression.

Date of Last Update: 
February 4, 2024

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