The Forbidden Orchestra

Emilia Amper


Nyckelharpa player, singer and composer from Sweden. Swedish and American Grammy nominee, Norwegian Grammy winner, Artist of the Year at the Swedish Folk & World Music Awards, World champion on the nyckelharpa, awarded National fiddler (riksspelman) and winner of the Nordic Composer’s award the NPU Prize. Composes music for nyckelharpa and string ensemble, and plays traditional and contemporary Nordic folk as well as music from all over the world, pop/rock/jazz and as a soloist with Western classical orchestras.

Liliana Zavala


Percussionist, singer, songwriter and producer born in Argentina, living in Stockholm. Has studied percussion traditions from all over the world, including the for women forbidden Bata drum from Cuba. Liliana has worked with well known artists like Chango Farías Gomez, Duo Coplanácu and Marie Fredriksson, and right now plays with Golbang, Abjeez, pop star Fever Ray and with her own trio. Has gotten a UNESCO scholarship and leads the project “Tamboreras”, an exchange between Sweden and Argentina encouraging women percussion players.

Nadin Al Khalidi


Singer, mandole, saz and bass player born in Baghdad. Studied classical music in her childhood. When coming to Sweden as a war refugee in 2001, she found her roots again in the Arabic music. Created the Malmö based Tarabband that has become a strong symbol for young audiences in the Arab world with their music and lyrics about war and peace. In 2014 Nadin was awarded Tradition bearer of the Year, and in 2017 Tarabband won Group of the Year at the Swedish Folk & World Music Awards.

Sousou Cissoko


Singer, composer, kora and guitar player from Sweden. One of very few female kora players in the world, and writes songs in Swedish, English, Wolof and Mandinka. Has collaborated with artists like Laleh and Timbuktu and is best known from the group ”Sousou & Maher Cissoko”, that has played in 30 different countries and won Newcomer of the Year at The Swedish Folk & World Music Awards as well as the Manifest award. Started the West African Women in Music project, supporting young women learning and making music, and is right now building a culture centre in Abene, Senegal.

Simona Abdallah


Palestinian/Danish percussion player. One of few women solo percussionists from the Arab world, mixing her ancestral Arabic rhythms with other genres in the meeting between live darbuka and electronic dance music. Has worked with several cross cultural projects in Denmark and abroad, with orchestras, DJs, theatre and stand up shows, and has also written a book about coming from a very traditional environment where only men could play instruments and her journey to become the person and musician she always dreamt to be.