I’ve always wanted to write a concerto, but it is a massive undertaking and it wasn’t until discussions with MSO’s Director of Artistic Planning Ronald Vermeulen that the prospect started to become a reality. I have always wanted to take the oud further than the traditional Arabic music platform and for the last 20 years I have done my best to push it into ‘unorthodox’ musical areas through cross cultural collaboration, understanding of cultures and the composition of new works that challenge the instrument.

With this concerto, I wanted to do something big, showcasing the oud in a new light and for it to be a technical benchmark for future players. It was very important for me that the music was true in intention, not just a bombardment of technical ability, but emotionally engaging, beautiful and full of energy. I wanted the music to be modern but also pay homage to the beauty of the old and be a bridge between Western classical music and Eastern music, with a traditional classical concerto as its framework.

The concerto is primarily in the Arabic Mode Nawa Athar, which is like a C Harmonic Minor scale but with a raised 4th (F#). This has...

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