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War survivor turned award-winning musician – An overview of Lebanese-Ukrainian composer Johnny Hachem

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War survivor turned award winning musician – An overview of Lebanese Ukrainian composer Johnny Hachem

Living in a nation that is at war is not easy, especially if you are a child. Imagine growing up and not knowing whether you and your family will survive or not. Imagine living through the sound of gunshots and explosions. One thing is sure the fear never leaves your mind, and neither does the distress you experienced after witnessing so much bloodshed.

For war survivors, it is easy to give up and remain entwined with their trauma for the rest of their lives. But some fight against the odds and learn to coexist with their pain. These are the individuals who serve as a source of inspiration for any human who is suffering. One such individual is the Lebanese-Ukrainian composer and pianist Johnny Hachem.

Based in Switzerland now, Hachem discovered his passion for music at a young age. He belonged to a musical family where his father played the violin while his mother played the piano. As a child, he loved hearing his parents perform and found himself drifting towards the art of playing music when a piano teacher started coming to their place to teach his elder sister.

“I would eavesdrop from afar, and at the end of the lesson, I was always trying to play by myself,” shares Johnny Hachem. “That’s how my journey with music began.”

Alas, life took a drastic turn as gunshots soon rang across the cities of Lebanon. According to Hachem, his childhood was not easy because of the war. He found it difficult to study or concentrate on anything, for that matter. However, even with the war going on, his love for music flourished. “I remember how many times we rushed to the school shelter because of the bombing,” he recalls. “The journey was never easy, but I did not give up. I wanted to become a professional musician no matter what it cost me.”

Upon leaving Lebanon and surviving the war, the threat of death diminished, but the problems didn’t. People made fun of Hachem because he was from Lebanon. Giving a detail of the discrimination he faced, Hachem reveals, “They considered my country a third world country and assumed it had no value in terms of music.”

Instead of letting the opinions of others break him, Johnny Hachem grew stronger and was adamant about achieving success. Many believe that if you want something and work hard for it, the universe gives you what you deserve. This is exactly what happened with the talented and motivated musician.

Today, the talented musician holds many international awards, including the 2009 international award for Music Composition at The International Composition Conference (Cergy-Pontoise, France) and the 2021 Third prize of the Classic Pure Vienna International Composition Competition (Vienna, Austria). He has performed his compositions as a soloist at several concerts and international festivals in Ukraine, Lebanon, Switzerland, France, Austria, Germany, England, Spain, Poland, Romania, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Belarus, South Korea, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Qatar.

Having achieved a Master’s degree with distinction from the Lebanese Higher Conservatory of Music, Hachem has been composing music for more than 20 years now. This includes composing for solo instruments, chamber music, and for orchestras. His compositions have also been performed on stage in different countries, and that is an accomplishment in itself.

Johnny Hachem’s music is such a success because it is heavily based on the style of Neo-romanticism, intricately fused with modernistic elements. Most importantly, his tunes are addictive because it pierces through your soul. This is not all! He also gives importance to the opinion of the listeners. “I pay close attention to the audience’s comments and how they interact with music. If you want to be a successful composer, your music must easily enter the ears of the audience. This is the way to success,” stresses Hachem.

Apart from playing and composing heartwarming music, Hachem also believes in giving back to the community and society in general. Proceeds from his concerts often go to support humanitarian causes in Lebanon and Ukraine. In fact, when the war began in Ukraine a few months ago, all his musical activities were oriented toward helping refugees.  

Even though Johnny Hachem has been making waves with his music across the globe, he believes his biggest achievement is surviving two wars in Lebanon. Hence, his main goal is to play the role of a peacemaker through his music. “I remember the day when a shell hit our building, and the walls and windows shattered,” he recalls. “I was injured at that time, but by the grace of God, I survived. Being able to survive in such circumstances is a very special achievement!”

Indeed, Johnny Hachem has managed to impress the world not only with his music but also with the tough circumstances he overcame to achieve success. He is a musician who rose from the drums of war and is weaving magic through his music

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