an interview with Joseph Tawadros
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Joseph Tawadros was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1983. Immigrating to Australia in 1986, he brought with him a musical tradition inherited from his maternal grandfather, Mansi Habib (1920-1957), an active composer and an oud and violin virtuoso in Cairo. Joseph’s uncle, Yacoub Mansi Habib, is an active professional Egyptian musician and recognised as one of the pioneering figures in Egyptian trumpet playing, also influenced his musical interest immensely. Joseph was encouraged to explore the musical parameters of the oud and the traditional Egyptian taqasim, a performing style akin to improvisation. This, combined with tremendous talent, has resulted in Tawadros’ personal style being uniquely instinctive in his music's improvised content.
In December 2001, Joseph returned to Egypt and began studying the Egyptian violin with the celebrated Egyptian violinist, Esawi Daghir. Daghir was so impressed by his talent that he decided to teach him pro bono and has taken special care with Joseph’s Egyptian violin education. Joseph also plays other Arabic traditional instruments including Nay (bamboo flute), Qanun (Arabic Zither) and Cello.
Joseph has toured extensively in Europe, America, Asia and the Middle East and has performed at some of the world’s most prestigious venues with artists such as tabla master Zakir Hussain, sarangi master Sultan Khan, John Abercrombie, John Patitucci, Jack DeJohnette, James Tawadros, Camerata Salzburg, Richard Tognetti and The Australian Chamber Orchestra, Mali band Tinariwen, Slava Grigoryan, Leonard Grigoryan, Adel Salameh, Fathi Salama, Christian Lindberg, Neil Finn, Mark Isaacs, William Barton, Lior, The Song Company, Riley Lee, Karen Schaupp, Bobby Singh, Katie Noonan, James Crabb, amongst many others.
In May 2006 Joseph graduated with a Bachelor of music with Honours from the University of NSW with a pioneering analysis on advanced techniques and applications in oud playing. In the same year Joseph was the youngest recipient of the very prestigious Freedman Fellowship for Classical Music- chosen from amongst Australia’s finest Classical musicians.
Joseph has released 9 albums to date. Storyteller (ABC Classics 2004), Rouhani (ABC Classics 2005), Visions (JT2006), Epiphany (JT2007) and Angel (JT2008) - of which 4 were nominated for an ARIA award for Best World Music Album in their respective years; 2009 saw the release of his ARIA solo oud album The Prophet - Music inspired by the poetry of Kahlil Gibran (JT 2009), also nominated. His album In the Hour of Separation, (JT 2010/ENJA Records) Joseph collaborated with legendary jazz luminaries John Abercrombie, John Patitucci and Jack DeJohnette recorded in New York at Avatar studios. This album saw Joseph's first ARIA nomination in the Best Jazz Album category. Joseph's most recent offerings, Concerto of the Greater Sea (ENJA JT 2012) & Chameleons of the White Shadow (ABC Classics 2013) have won an ARIA award for Best World Music Album in both years.
Joseph has also composed for film and theatre, most notably the documentaries The last days of Yasser Arafat, Haneen, I Remember 1948 and play The Gates of Egypt. Joseph also features on the Australian Feature film the Last ride, The Black Balloon and TV series East West 101. He has also completed compositions for animations with artist Michael Roseth.
Joseph performs on a Joseph Tawadros Signature Series II Oud made by Veysel Sarikus of Istanbul.