Arab heritage has shaped my musical style, says Alyamani
MAias Alyamani, a Syria-born composer, recently joined members of the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra to perform his compositions before an enthusiastic Doha audience. His works have been performed by musicians of the stature of Daniel Barenboim and Gidon Kremer. He has also worked with Emmy-award winning composer and conductor Dave Pierce. Alyamani’s music has been enjoyed by audiences in over 30 countries, including the US, Iran, Germany, France, Syria and Qatar. His works feature a distinctive style of music which is performed on Western instruments, but carries Middle Eastern melodies with it. Qatar Tribune’s Ramy Salama spoke to Alyamani about his musical approach and its influence.
Can you tell us about your musical style, the genre of music? A: Actually, there is no certain genre for the music I play.
You can’t call it classical; neither can you call it Oriental.
You can’t event call it Arabic music because it is none of these. It was always hard to explain exactly what it is. So, I just called it MA, the first two letters of my name. It is not about style or instrumentation.
There are more things to the way I make this music. I call this genre ‘MA’.
Oriental music is very delicate and I write mostly with Arabic tools. Therefore, I try to not overcharge the melodies. I try just to make it flowing and always keep it as fresh as possible.
I constantly search for a certain atmosphere and what I need to do to achieve it. I want to let the audience think, but also to enjoy the music along with me, so I always try to reach this median of combining enjoyment with cultural values.
What in particular has influenced your musical orientation? I was lucky to be born in Syria, an Arab country. Arabic music is a huge support for any composer who uses it. So, I have been influenced by the music of the Arab heritage. It helps me a lot to compose using these Arabic elements.
We have Arab composers like Omar Khairat and Marcel Khalife, who did this before me. They did orchestration and high-classical Arabic music. These of course improve my imagination of how I am going to write after them. I’m trying to continue what they started. Hopefully, I’ll do as well as they did.
Marcel Khalife is one of my best friends actually, a very nice man. He is a big supporter.
Whenever he is in Doha he always tries to attend the concerts and encourage us. This is one of the good things about him. He is not only a wellknown artiste; he is a champion of the arts. He gives advice and comes to the concerts.
He’s a big help.
What led you to take up composing, having performed on violin? At a certain moment, violin was not enough to express the ideas. Hence, I needed more tools and this came through composing for more people and bigger ensembles. This is why I started to study composing because you can play a solo instrument, but if you want to write for four persons or a smaller or larger orchestra, you need to study this. This is why I went for composing.
What do you have for your audience in your upcoming tours? In my upcoming concerts, I’m going to play some older pieces. I have five concerts lined up for five cities in Italy.
Later, I have a concert in Vienna. In September, I have a concert in Budapest, Hungary.
After that, I will come back to Doha to perform in the second concert of the season. I’m going to play my music with the orchestra.