Fusing cultures to bring the Oud to audiences around the world

Fusing cultures to bring the Oud to audiences around the world

Highly acclaimed Oud performer Joseph Tawadros AM has been playing the stringed instrument for years, with his passion for music only growing stronger.

After moving to Australia from Egypt, Joseph began playing the Oud as a way to learn and gain a greater appreciation of his heritage, history and the music typical to North African and Middle Eastern regions.

Taught initially by a family friend, Joseph refined his skills by listening and watching other musicians, allowing him to develop his own style and technique over time.

I started performing little shows when I was 12, and had always played hymns at feasts in the Coptic Community in Sydney.

“I started to do performances for the Australian Institute of Eastern Music when I was 15 and performed my first big sold out solo concert at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music when I was 17,” Joseph said.

“A year later I was lucky enough to be invited by Richard Tognetti and the Australian Chamber Orchestra to perform with them before I was 18.”

It is Joseph’s original, cross-cultural approach to the traditional music that has helped lead him to opportunities to perform around the world, such as headlining tours in Europe, America, Asia and the Middle East, as well as at the Academy of Ancient Music in London.

“Being brought up in Australia exposed me to a lot of different music and genres and I was able to soak that up and put them in my music,” Joseph explained.

“I went on to study a bachelor of music with honours at the University of New South Wales which also taught me a lot about music outside the Arab world.

My music is about finding a middle ground between these two worlds.

Despite drawing inspiration from composers such as Abdel Wahab, Riyad Al Sunbati, Mohamed al Qassabji, Farid Al Attrache, Sayed Darwich, and many more, there is one star in particular Joseph wished he could meet. 

“Being a big fan of the great Egyptian diva Oum Kalsoum, I wished I could travel back in time and compose a song for her,” Joseph said.

Although his career does sometimes take a toll, Joseph wouldn’t change a thing.

“My compositions are based on emotions and sometimes it can be quite sad and intense, but always beautiful,” Joseph said.

But, it is all about the music, the connection with people and sharing a tear or smile with strangers.

“I love performing, I love music, I love the music, I love the other performers and I love the audience.”

Follow Joseph’s journey on Facebook HERE.

Anisha Mistry

As the Editor of CulturalPulse, Anisha is passionate about listening to, writing and sharing stories of Australia's multicultural achievement. Got a story to tell? Get in touch: editor@culturalpulse.com.au