Saber Bamatraf is a Yemeni pianist and music composer currently based in the vibrant city of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Beyond being a musician, he is a creative practitioner actively contributing to the rich tapestry of Scottish culture and the arts.
Saber's remarkable journey bears witness to his unwavering commitment to humanitarian causes, cultural rights, and the arts. For over seven years, he dedicated himself to humanitarian work with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) amidst the turmoil of war-torn Yemen. Simultaneously, he immersed himself in Yemen's artistic and cultural scene, igniting this passion in 2014.
Yet, his pursuit of artistic and cultural activism came at a price. In 2018, Saber and his artist wife Shatha Altowai faced direct threats to their safety due to their fervent engagement in these endeavors. Confronted with these challenges, they made the courageous decision to seek refuge in Scotland after being honoured with prestigious IIE-Artist Protection Fund fellowships. These fellowships brought them to the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities within the University of Edinburgh from November 2020 to November 2021.
Saber's artistic journey is punctuated by a diverse array of projects and achievements. Highlights include the impactful "Shrapnel Campaign" in Sana'a, Yemen, compelling TED Talks, the mesmerizing albums "Turning Point" and "Embrace from Edinburgh," the thought-provoking short play "Saber Came to Tea," and the enchanting "Southside Symphony." His influence extends to numerous festivals and cultural events, particularly within the world of art residencies and the socially-engaged sector. Saber plays a pivotal role as part of Art27scotland, supporting the enrichment of both local and global cultural landscapes for artists and communities from migrant backgrounds. He is a passionate advocate for improved and accessible opportunities for artists-at-risk, tirelessly working to ensure a brighter future for those who dare to push the boundaries of art in the face of adversity.
- IIE-Artist Protection Fund Fellowship Award (APF) in residence at the Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH), University of Edinburgh. Nov. 2020 - Nov. 2021.
Events & Participations:
- Mind the Gap conference: Designing Residencies for Everyone. Speaker and Performer. By ACME & Res Artis, at Here East & Bloomsbury Theatre within University College London UCL, London, UK (06-09 September 2023)
- Festival of Migration. By Art27scotland. At Southside Community Centre, Edinburgh, UK (16, 17 & 18 June 2023)
- The Southside Symphony, as part of the Festival of Migration. Event by Art27scotland. At Southside Community Centre, Edinburgh, UK (17 June 2023)
- Palestinian Gala Day. Event by Art27scotland. At the Southside Community Centre, Edinburgh, UK (14 May 2023)
- Yemeni Song Day, as part of Hossien Moheb's concert. Event by Dan Events. At The Lowry, Manchester, UK (10 May 2023)
- Distil Residency. By Hands Up for Trad. At Wiston Lodge, Biggar, UK (6-9 April 2023)
- Mutual Affinities pilot. Conference. Hosted by Alchemy Film & Arts, Hawick, Scottish Borders, UK (09-11 March 2023).
- Blood Red Lines. Play. Event by Art27scotland. At the London Irish Centre, London, UK (16, 17 & 18 February 2023)
- Mutual Affinities pilot. Conference. Hosted by Art27scotland, Edinburgh, UK (04 November 2022).
- Edinburgh Festival Fringe: From the Heart of the Incident. Short Play. Event by Art27scotland, ZOO Venues, Edinburgh, UK (08 & 09 August 2022).
- Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Saber Came to Tea. Short play. Event by Art27scotland, ZOO Venues, Edinburgh, UK (06 & 07 August 2022).
- Cross Borders grant by the Scottish Refugee Council (July 2022)
- Mutual Affinities pilot programme. Conference. Hosted by Deveron Projects, Huntly, UK (16-18 June 2022)
- Story on BBC Scotland #Loop series shortlisted for the Refugee Festival Scotland Media Awards by Scottish Refugee Council. Titled: Yemen to Edinburgh - Our Journey to Creative Freedom (15 June 2022).
- The Great May Day Cabaret. Event by Art27scotland & Fair Pley, at Southside Community Centre, Edinburgh, UK (1 May 2022).
- Drawing Connections: Youth Peacebuilding, Scotland, and the World. Event by The Scottish Council on Global Affairs, at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, UK (April 2022).
- Art as a Tool for Peace: Exhibition Launch and Reception by PeaceRep and the Global Justice Academy, Old College, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom (24 November 2021)
- Saber Came to Tea: An evening of music performance, short play, visual art and conversation, in collaboration with Art27Scotland, South Side Community Centre, Edinburgh, United Kingdom (08 & 09 October 2021)
- Yemen: Pathways to Peace - An evening of Yemen film, music, art and discussion, Peace & Justice Scotland, Online (21 September 2021)
- Music performance & Embrace from Edinburgh album release at The White Canvas Exhibition, IASH, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom (26 - 30 July 2021)
- Participation in Event 416 - Art Exhibition, Basement Cultural Foundation, Online (June 2020)
- Participation & solo musical performance at Takween First Forum, Takween Platform, Mukalla, Yemen (24 July 2019)
- Saber's art story screened in a short documentary film "Voice of the Rainbow", Karama Film Festival, Filmed in Sana'a, Yemen (July – August 2018), Screened:
- NY, USA (01 August 2019).
- Aden & Taiz, Yemen (1 – 9 April 2019).
- Seoul, South Korea (27 January 2019).
- Istanbul, Turkey (29 December 2018).
- Amman, Jordan (09 & 10 December 2018).
- Participation & duet musical performance at the International Women’s Day, Basement Cultural Foundation, Sana'a, Yemen (March 2018)
- Duet musical performance at the music festival, Yemen Music & Arts House (17 January 2018)
- Group musical performance, Palm Complex, Sana'a, Yemen (4 January 2018)
- Group musical performance, Dar AlSalam Forum, Sana'a, Yemen (1 January 2018)
- Musical Performance, Qanbus band, Aroma Cafe, Sana'a, Yemen (November 2016)
- Musical performance, Qanbus band, From under the Ashes Art Exhibition, Mandarin Village, Sana'a, Yemen (5 September 2016)
- Musical performance, Qanbus band, V.Talks initiative, Sana'a, Yemen (August 2016)
- Pianist at Qanbus Band (January 2016 - January 2017)
- Shared TED talk & Art Performance with Shatha, The Synesthesia, TEDxLIUSanaa, Sana’a, Yemen (May 2016)
- Solo musical performance, The Synesthesia of the Color & Tune, Basement Cultural Foundation, Sana’a, Yemen (March 2016)
- Contribution in musical composition for Shrapnel Campaign, Shathaya Musical Team, Basement Cultural Foundation, Sana'a, Yemen (March 2016)
- Music composition "This is Basement" for the official video of Basement Cultural Foundation, Sana'a, Yemen (January 2016)
- Pianist at Shrapnel Campaign, anti-war project, Basement Cultural Foundation, Sana'a, Yemen (December 2015 – January 2016)
- Solo & Group musical performances at the 7th anniversary of the Basement, Basement Cultural Foundation, Sana'a, Yemen (December 2015)
- Solo musical performance at TED Talks, Outside the Box + Humanity, TEDxLIUSanaa, Sana'a, Yemen (January 2015)