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‘SOUTH ASIAN MUSIC AND ARAB MUSIC ARE NOT VERY DIFFERENT’

‘SOUTH ASIAN MUSIC AND ARAB MUSIC ARE NOT VERY DIFFERENT’

Qatar-based Razwan Bobby Sarwar is a seasoned composer and music conductor. Born and brought up in the UK, the British-Pakistani is currently working as the head of Music and teacher at Sherborne Preparatory School Qatar. Razwan, who moved to Qatar four years ago, has received professional education in music from the UK. His Arab instrumental music composition was selected by the BBC to play for its production on World Athletics Championships Doha 2019. Razwan started learning music at the age of 10 and released his first music album when he was just 15.  While in the UK, he developed a Western and South Asian music curriculum for a primary school and assisted in preparation of course material for BTEC Level 1 in Asian Classical Music and Health and Safety booklets. As a music conductor, he has performed in the UK, Italy, France and Qatar. He performed in opening acts at concerts held in Doha between February 2016 and June 2109 in which Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Neha Kakkar, Sonu Nigam, and Ragini participated. In March 2109, he also organised and performed at the Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Museum with his pupils from Sherborne. He was a lead music conductor in a Bollywood Masterpiece UK Tour in 2012. He performed as a music conductor at Sur Bahar concert held in the UK in 2005 in which musicians from Pakistan and the UK performed. Razwan has performed with Stereo Nation, Hunterz, Ibrar Ul Haq, Jawad Ahmed and Falak Shabir. He is all set to lead the choir of 80 students of Sherborne Qatar School and international artistes who will be performing at Katara on October 3. In an interview with Qatar Tribune,Sarwar spoke about his passion for music. ExcerptscTypeface:> 
How did you get the opportunity to compose instrumental music for BBC production on World Athletics Championships Doha 2019?
A colleague from school recommended me to BBC. We were speaking about the requirements for the past two months and then a week ago, I composed some music and sent it to the BBC production manager who loved it. This was then approved and since then, the music is being aired with the World Athletics Championships in Doha on BBC iPlayer.
What was the idea behind the composition for BBC and what instruments were used?
The idea was to reflect Arab and Middle Eastern music. I used various instruments such as the Turkish guitar, darbuka, flute and various western instruments and beats. I wanted to give a flavour of the Middle East and I hope this was achieved. The instrumental music is around two minutes long and I hope the audience enjoys this.  
Tell us about the forthcoming performance at Katara on
October 3.
The event titled ‘Cantus - A Celebration of Voice and Instruments’, will be celebrating music in education. Finest singers and musicians from Sherborne Qatar Preparatory and Senior schools will perform in a concert in the Drama Theatre at Katara, Building No 16. The concert includes the Preparatory School choir, which reached the final of the Qatar Primary School Choir of the year and was awarded the Repertoire Award, The Senior Music Band, instrumentalists and performances by international artist Lillian Sibeko. 
Who inspired you to become a musician?
My father inspired me to become a musician. He encouraged me to develop and appreciate this subject. He also advised me to have a secondary subject and use those skills within the work I do. My secondary subject is business marketing.   
When did you first get the taste of South Asian music and what do you find most alluring in this genre?
I started to learn tabla at the age of 10 and then studied percussion. By the age of 15 I had a change of heart and started to play the keyboard. This then progressed to the learning of the piano and how to compose.  
The music from this part of the world is very interesting and for the past 60 years, it has been growing. The elements of mixing music and the rhythmic patterns are very interesting and appealing to me.    
How different is South Asian music from Arab music?
Well, not so much. We use similar scales and modes. The modulation of voice and instruments is very similar and so are the rhythms. It was convenient for me to come up with ideas for BBC as I have been listening to both these styles from a young age. I enjoy and am inspired by all genres of music.    
Have you ever composed songs for Bollywood movies?
I have not yet had the opportunity but all my private songs are Bollywood-based. Those are called Mere Ho Tum, Saathiya and Dil Kya Kare. These can all be found on my channel ‘Motif UK’. We aim to produce many more in the near future. I have had the opportunity to work with Zee TV, B4U, ARY, Prime TV and now BBC. These are all international TV channels and I have created more than 50 jingles for television and radio in my career. I still continue to learn and develop.  
Don’t you think the fusion of Arab, South Asian and Western style of music spoils the originality of the song?
This is a very good question. The answer is both yes and no. If you understand the theory of music and have experience in arranging, the fusion of music can be beautiful and unique. On the other hand, if it’s not done in accordance with pitch, scales and rhythm, it can be a confusion.   
Have you ever received awards?
Yes, I have received awards from Tedx and in the Qatar Primary Choir competition. Sherborne Choir were awarded the best Repertoire award. This was in February 2019. I was also selected to conduct at the Royal Albert Hall in London, which itself is an award. 
For me, my awards are my music being recognised and my pupils from Sherborne Qatar performing their best.

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