Karim Sulayman & Sean Shibe

Broken Branches, Grammy-Nominated Pentatone Recording by Karim Sulayman and Sean Shibe

We are delighted that “Broken Branches,” a new Pentatone CD from tenor Karim Sulayman and guitarist Sean Shibe, has been nominated for a Grammy for Best Solo Classical Vocal Album. Karim, a friend to Classical Archives, is no stranger to winning Grammys. His 2018 CD “Songs of Orpheus” won the 2019 Grammy in that category.

It is no wonder. Karim’s beautiful voice and translucent performances are only part of what makes him such an important artist. In “Broken Branches,” he and his musical partner Sean Shibe have created a program of works that probes issues of what it means to be a musician – and a human being – at this time in history. It is a topic that Karim, a Lebanese-American classical artist, is uniquely qualified to explore with us.

The notes from Pentatone explain . . .

Tenor Karim Sulayman and guitarist Sean Shibe present Broken Branches, a conceptual album with music ranging from Dowland, Monteverdi, Britten, Rodrigo, Takemitsu, Harvey, and Chaker to traditional songs from the Middle East, scrutinizing the close cultural and musical ties between East and West. This musical exploration ties in with the artists’ personal experience of a dynamic, in-between identity, as they grew up in the West having ethnic roots in the East (Lebanon and Japan respectively). Broken Branches explores the wood of the guitar and its relatives, as well as the splintering of history known as diaspora.

Among the works Karim and Sean selected for the CD included songs by Dowland, Monteverdi, Takemitsu, as well Sephardic and Arabic songs. The recoding concludes with a performance of Britten’s cycle, “Songs from the Chinese.” International and thought-provoking? Yes. But more importantly, every selection is simply beautiful.

We are pleased that Karim sat down for this conversation with Barry Lenson, Editor in Chief of Classical Archives.