“Simplicity is the highest achievement.” ~ Frederic Chopin
As an international concert pianist and composer, music is the lens through which Dr. Abdullah Khalaf views the world. He believes that pedagogy, however, is as important as performance, which is why he also works as the assistant professor of piano at the College of Basic Education. It is here that Dr. Khalaf tells his students, ‘Everything is connected. You must read philosophy to understand music, physics to understand history, and poems to understand math!’ He encourages them to look at everything through the one thing they love most. Dr. Khalaf’s sincerest wish is to inspire young Kuwaitis to pursue music as an intellectual branch of both art and science.
From a young age Khalaf was drawn to music, listening and learning difficult, classical Arabic songs by the age of ten. However, like most Kuwaiti children he was encouraged to be an engineer or a doctor, never a musician. Gaining permission from his mother to switch his degree in Microbiology to Music was a defining and difficult moment in his life. In the end, Khalaf could pursue his dream of being a musician and he remains, to this day, motivated by a certain sparkle in his mother’s eye. He knew mere belief wasn’t enough to make his dreams come true though – dedication and hard work were necessary as well. Khalaf earned a Bachelor’s degree and worked as a secondary school music teacher, but quickly realized he wanted to go further. Ever fascinated with the way one dream can open the door to another dream, Khalaf went back to school and earned both a Master’s and PhD in Piano Performance. Now, he has published numerous academic papers and presented at international musicology conferences, proving the future is bright for aspiring Kuwaiti musicians. Khalaf views himself as a success but only if by success one means improving oneself. ‘Success is beating yourself, not beating others. It is influencing others positively and making a contribution to the world’. The next contribution he dreams of making comes in the form of establishing a private piano academy where he can continue to influence and help students reach their goals.
Dr. Khalaf would like to thank everyone who has supported and believed in him over the years, and is honored to be selected as an inspiring man of the year. ‘To inspire is to cultivate a good seed and to believe that one day it will flourish and inspire others to seek a better life’. Though Dr. Khalaf always hopes to open the eyes and widen the imaginations of his students, for himself he knows that books, always books, remain the greatest source of inspiration. And so in any great city of history and culture, from Florence to Barcelona or London, you will find this seeker of knowledge enjoying his vacations not only in museums and galleries, but also in bookstores and coffee shops, nose-deep in the infinite, wonderful world of learning. For learning is the one thing, Khalaf wholeheartedly believes, that every person can do no matter if they are rich or poor, young or old; you can always ‘search for the truth yourself’.