Joseph Tawadros AM, is a multi-award-winning composer and virtuoso player of the oud, a Middle Eastern lute. He was born in Cairo, grew up in Australia and is now based in London. Joseph’s music brings middle-eastern, classical and jazz together seamlessly and he is considered by peers and music critics to be a truly original contemporary performer and an innovative composer.
He has worked with a broad range of musical luminaries from many cultures and genres. Joseph collaborated with US jazz legends including the late John Abercrombie, Christian McBride, Mike Stern, Joey Defrancesco and Jack DeJohnette. He has performed with world music practitioners including Sarangi Master Sultan Khan, Zakir Hussain, Bela Fleck, Balake Sissoko, Mamadou Diabate, Kazui Sawai, Tinarawen, Richard Bona, Jean Louis Matinier, Afro Moses and the Gypsy Kings.
Joseph performs as a soloist, in small ensembles, with jazz groups and with orchestras. Recently these included BBC Symphony Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Ukrainian National Orchestra, Morphing Chamber Orchestra and the O’Modernt Quartet. Melbourne Symphony premiered the Tawadros Concerto for Oud and Orchestra in 2017 and in 2019 the concerto will be performed with Sydney Symphony
In his solo concerts, Joseph presents compositions from throughout his career, ranging from the popular Angel Suite to recent experimental works such as Constellation and pieces from his highly respected album The Prophet inspired by the poetry of Khalil Gibran. Joseph’s work is rooted in the Arabic music he was immersed in as child and studied extensively as he grew up. He usually commences the performance with an improvisation based upon a traditional mode such as Taqasim Kord. These highly skilled extemporisations are truly spellbinding performances to experience.
For his solo presentation, he has rearranged pieces he originally wrote for jazz players to be played on the oud alone – combining his composition skills and flair for improvisation which is way beyond what we usually see as ‘world music’.
Joseph smashes the conventional genre boundaries showing the oud to be a versatile instrument that has strength and sensitivity on its own, beyond the restrictions of the traditional and popular narratives. His music draws from and reaches beyond jazz, classical and world music and finds a new niche in a unique contemporary style he has created himself.
On stage Joseph is an engaging story-teller who entrances the audience with his sharp wit and astute observations. His concerts are an uplifting experience of great beauty, good humour and deep musicianship.
“Never less than electrifying and always entertaining, given Joseph’s wild sense of humour and ability to laugh at many taboos, this was a sensational concert…” Performing Arts Hub, August 2017
“The playing throughout is technically astonishing and the interplay between the two brothers displays extraordinary empathy. Amid this fiery brilliance, reflective pieces … demonstrate Tawadros’s emerging maturity as a composer.” Review of Live At Abbey Road, Jan 2018 Songlines Magazine U.K.
“He raised the energy levels with new heights of virtuosity, lightning finger-work and rhythmic strumming seamlessly switching between and blending bluegrass and Arabic music. A perfect conclusion to a performance that was all about challenging perceptions – of culture, identity and, of course, the oud itself. “ Bachtrack, UK, 2018, BBC Proms
“One of the most impressive musicians to emerge in Australia … with a dazzling technique dispensing hair-raising tempos… His writing displays a real depth of emotion …reveling in a zest for life and celebration.” The Australian newspaper
“Tawadros had the opulent low notes weeping and the high ones so brittle with anguish that they almost hurt. This, more than all the fiery virtuosity, is his ultimate strength.” John Shand Sydney Morning Herald
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