Pianist, Composer and an Academician from Kuwait
Meet Dr. Abdullah Khalaf – a Pianist, Composer and Aacademician from Kuwait. Dr. Abdullah has published 8 academic articles during the past six years. He has performed locally and internationally, published the first piano book in Arabic, established a musicology center, and has written about 20 original compositions.
In October this year, Dr. Abdullah launched his website to make his music sheets available for purchase worldwide. Dr. Abdullah recently got promoted to an associate professor position.
We are very excited to bring this exclusive interview with Dr. Abdullah for our readers.
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I have been thinking about it for some time and I think I’ll stay with this short answer for now: – I am a pianist, composer and an Aacademician from Kuwait.
Tell us about your education.
My academic music education started at the age of 19 when I dropped from micro-biology college to join the music department at the college of basic education in Kuwait. This, I belief, was the most crucial decision I made in my whole life and it transformed me into another person, abetter one.
What and how did you get interested in music?
I got interested in classical music through the use of it in famous cartoons like, Jom and jerry and Smurfs. I still remember in one of the episodes in Smurfs they uses Mozart symphony no. 40, and even thought I was only a little kid, it made me cry. The melody is so lyrical and sensitive and it was used in a sad moment in the show. So many other early examples made me realize the strong connection I have with classical music.
What motivated you to take up a career in music?
It wasn’t a motivational a moment as much as a magical experience. All I remember is that once I started experiencing this beautiful art and its mysterious way of reaching the deepest part of my body and soul, I knew that it’s the one and only thing I want to keep doing for the rest of my life.
How was the response of your parents? Were they supportive in this decision?
Even though this was a big decision and a shock to my family, but my mother who’s always been happy to talk and discuss things said “I am not sure if you are making the right decision here, but If that’s what you want and it will make you happy then go for it”
Tell us about your earliest beginnings. When did you first start playing piano?
I did some music activity in high school and I have to thank Mr. Mohammad Salem for opening this door to me.
Why did you focus on piano?
Learning any other instrument require that you buy it and I did not have the money. It is easier with piano because you can always practice on the pianos in the college. I spent all my years in the college practicing in classrooms and it wasn’t until my graduation that I saved enough money to buy my first piano, a beautiful upright kawai. I remember that the instrument costs 1200 KD and I only saved 980 KD, and here I must thank Dr. Amer Jaafer for calling the company who agreed to make a special student discount and make my dream come true.
What’s the most beautiful piano you’ve ever played?
There was this limited edition Bosendorfer piano in display in London, It was made to celebrate Beethoven’s 250th Birthday, and it was on auction with over 1 million GBP at that time. I asked for permission and played for almost 10 minutes which felt like days, It was a very spiritual meditative experience.
What’s your favourite piece to play before an audience?
It depends on my mood and the venue and also the energy I get from the audience.
What message do you convey through your music?
My musical compositions primarily follow humanitarian themes, which often being inspired by examples of human tragedy and suffering. I believ that music provides a powerful platform from which to spread awareness and compassion throughout the world.
You also published a piano learning book last year. Can you tell us more about it?
The main reason of this book is to make music education in general and piano in particular accessible to Arabic speakers. This is because I belief that music is very important to everyone, It improves our emotional intelligence, it makes us listen to each other and appreciate each other’s opinion even in time of disagreement, it also help us to deal with hard time, and It teaches us to live in harmony. Music make us better human being. I make us transcend to another level of humanity and compassion.
What are some of your future plans?
I never stop dreaming and some time I do in daily bases. But my next goal is to have a concert for my original compositions for piano and orchestra.
Who are your favourite composers?
I always come back to Chopin.
Where have you performed so far?
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Emirate, Egypt, UK, Japan
What is your most memorable concert experience?
I enjoy playing to smaller audience like salon music, it feels more intimate than bigger concert hall which is also nice but also scary.
How has the pandemic changed your life?
To be honest it did not change me that much because I was always a home-guy, I mean if I wasn’t busy outside doing something then most likely you would find me at home, wearing something comfy and having a nice meal, maybe a nice cup of coffee and a delicious piece of cake, while watching an old movie. I guess the one thing that changed with the pandemic is that I finally had the time to do things that I have been postponing, like writing more original music and launching my website. I also took many certified art online courses which was fun and inspiring.
What lessons have you learned from the pandemic?
You cannot help everyone, but you can at least help someone. And if everyone did the same, we will live in a better world.
What are some of your other hobbies?
Reading and travelling are my main hobbies and also most important teachers. Reading gives me the chance to talk and argue with the greatest minds in the world. And travelling makes me realized that we do not live in this world alone, and that’s my beliefs aren’t the only ones that exists. It also makes me realize how lucky I am to be born in a family that can provides me with the essential needs of human beings and consequently understand that I have a role in helping less fortunate ones.
Your message for men on Movember.
Having a special month to raise awareness regarding men’s health is a very nice thing to do, but more importantly, I want every man to think that every month of the year is a November, and also an October to every woman. Taking care of our health and helping others should be a daily routine from the moment you wake up until you go back to bed.
Your message for us at CP magazine.
To my Family at CP magazine, I would like to express my gratitude for your constant support and love, It is really great to see you supporting the youth and the art scene, and I have to thank everyone who works so hard to make things happen at CPM specially Mr. Jameel Arif.
Photography: Abdullah Alkandari (@abd.alkandari)< Back