“…a master of the rabab…” – NY Daily News
A sonic time portal from the ancient Hindu Kush to the modern era—Qais Essar is a contemporary Afghan composer, instrumentalist, and producer who channels his melodic designs through the rabab, a 2,500 year old instrument from Afghanistan.
His new EP, My Whole Heart, draws from folk influences, blending rabab with the sounds of Psychedelic Folk and Americana. It is a pure expression of love—all written, recorded, and produced in two weeks. Earlier this year, he joined Alam Khan for their single, Strange Village—a collaboration of sarod and rabab which aims to present traditional instruments in a new and accessible context, paving the way for a new genre of global music.
He has toured extensively, sharing his new genre of music nationally and internationally. In June 2023, Qais was a featured artist with the Oxford Philharmonic, performing new works of music by Afghan composers. He has contributed original music to feature film and television also, composing for 2021’s Oscar-nominated film, Three Songs for Benazir. In 2017, Qais was recruited by director Nora Twomey to compose an original song for her Oscar-nominated film, The Breadwinner (produced by Angelina Jolie). He earned a Canadian Screen Award for Best Original Song for his piece, The Crown Sleeps. Essar continues to be featured in festivals and venues around the world, including the Newport Folk Festival, SxSW, The Kennedy Center, Treefort Music Festival, and more.