x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

'Inspiration comes from life'

q&a The Renowned Lebanese oud player and composer Marcel Khalife played played at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi last weekend, where he received a standing ovation.

The musician and composer Marcel Khalife played in the <i>A Child a Promise</i> benefit concert with his sons, the percussionist Backer Khalife and the pianist Rami Khalife.
The musician and composer Marcel Khalife played in the A Child a Promise benefit concert with his sons, the percussionist Backer Khalife and the pianist Rami Khalife.

The Renowned Lebanese oud player and composer Marcel Khalife played at the American University in Dubai and Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi last weekend, where he received a standing ovation. Before he continued on to Doha for a Nov 20 performance, Khalife shared some thoughts on his life and his music.

I never chose to play the oud, I never asked for one. When I was a child, I used to always play and tap on the tables and on anything around the house. My parents were surprised at the sound my fingers made, that I could play rhythmically. My mother especially noticed. She said to my father, "Our son has talent. We have to get him something musical." My father went and got an oud because it was the cheapest thing he could get. So it was by coincidence that I got the oud. When it came home, I realised that it was much better than all the wood and the pots and pans. It was something amazing to me. They took me to a teacher and then I went to the Conservatory of Music in Beirut and I studied the music.

My grandfather Youssef was a fisherman but he loved music. He would sing and play the flute. The people knew him in the village, and they loved him a lot.

When I took the oud and I learnt to play, I felt that oud had a further meaning. I wanted to bring something new - an innovative way to play and deal with the instrument, from the composing to the way of playing the strings. I have written new things for the oud - solos, duos, trios, quartets and oud with orchestra. I have even written about the music and the methodology of the oud.

There are many. If we're talking about the past, there's my teacher, the renowned Lebanese oud player Farid Ghosn, and the Iraqi player Jamil Bashir. Today, for the people who write and play the oud, there are Simon Shaheen, Naseer Shamma, Charbel Rouhana and many more.

When I finish a piece of writing, I start a new one. My previous music doesn't belong to me. Once it is written, recorded and on CD, it belongs to the public.

My latest work is Arabian Concerto, an instrumental Oriental piece for Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Maestro Lorin Maazel.

Mahmoud was my friend and a great poet in the world. We lost him earlier this year at the peak of his career. The purpose is to recite his poetry as a tribute to him and because he will always be loved by the people.

I am inspired by life, nature, human relationships, philosophy, pain, agony and poetry. The inspiration comes from life and how we live.