Almost every day I  walk in an echoey concrete stairwell and sing.

The reverberation overlays the sounds into brief harmonies.  I am drawn to the unexpected gifts returned by these high walls and feel that the space is an equal partner in yielding the music.  New ideas come to me and I explore how to bring these sounds into the realm of a concert of voices.  I thrive on these musical mysteries that take me beyond myself.


Ilyas Iliya’s earliest musical memories are of singing in a boys’ school choir in Beirut, Lebanon.  At age 8, he was moved by the poignancy and romance in a movie about the Vienna Boys Choir.  Fairuz, the renowned Lebanese chanteuse, captivated his love of drama and music.  Later, when the civil war forced his family to immigrate, Fairuz became a source of solace and nostalgia.  


In Spring 2011, The Grammy Award-winning ensemble Chanticleer commissioned, performed and recorded Avoonan Dbishmayya, the Aramaic Lord's Prayer.  It was part of their concert 'The Boy Whose Father Was God'.  His choral works have been performed in San Francisco, New York and Hawaii (ACDA).  The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus debuted Safeer el-Layl at Davies Symphony Hall. The premiere received overwhelming audience response.


Performers of his choral works have included Chanticleer, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, Robert Geary’s Ancora of Piedmont Choir, Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco, The Brearley School Chorus and Absalon.  Resound Ensemble premieres Tat Tvam Asi in May 2014.