pianist Iyad Sughayer on his new music academy in Jordan

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Iyad Sughayer (Photo Kaupo Kikkas)
Iyad Sughayer (Picture Kaupo Kikkas)

The UK-based Jordanian pianist Iyad Sughayer first got here to my consideration after I heard him at a Metropolis Music Basis recital in February 2020 [see my review], and since then he has developed fairly a status. He’s presently a YCAT artist and has launched a pair of extremely regarded discs of music by Khachaturian on BIS. Coming to the UK on the age of 14 to additional his musical schooling, Iyad nonetheless has sturdy hyperlinks to his homeland and, conscious of the necessity to enhance classical music alternatives for different Jordanian youngsters, he has not too long ago began a music academy, the Mashrek Academy of Music in Amman.

Iyad has all the time loved instructing and admits that one among his ambitions was to have his personal music faculty. Throughout the pandemic, he discovered himself with fairly an excessive amount of time on his palms, while discovering it onerous to focus on practising. He marketed on-line classes and located himself with a number of college students from Jordan, and he got here to understand that they wanted a tutorial programme alongside their taking part in. 

On the age of round 14, Iyad needed to go away Jordan in an effort to additional his musical profession and get the tutorial coaching he wanted (he got here to the UK and studied at Chetham’s College of Music in Manchester). He felt that he wished to offer these younger Jordanian pianists the alternatives to get the type of coaching in their very own nation that he had lacked. From preliminary very best, the venture took about two years to get off the bottom and the academy opened its doorways in September this yr (2022) with round 30 youngsters, finding out strings, piano and percussion and hope so as to add new instrumental research on an annual foundation.

The college is aimed toward youngsters from age 5 to 18, and Iyad’s remark is that he desires to get them hooked on music from a younger age. The lecturers are all primarily based in Amman and the pinnacle of music is a good friend of his, Hind Sabanegh, who beforehand was Tutorial Supervisor on the Edward Stated Nationwide Conservatory for Music in Jerusalem.

Mashrek Academy of Music (Photo Nader Raddad)
Mashrek Academy of Music (Picture Nader Raddad)

From the outset Iyad was practical that the venture wouldn’t get off the bottom and not using a companion, so he contacted his old-fashioned, the Mashrek Worldwide College in Amman. He studied there from the age of 5 to 14, and so they have been very supportive when he then went off to the UK to review. For him it was a implausible faculty, with round 2000 pupils, one of many main colleges in Jordan and their involvement within the new venture would imply having the ability to open up the music academy to everybody in Jordan. After approaching the college, they took solely two weeks to comply with the thought. The brand new music academy is on the college’s campus, and the college has invested in new amenities and devices.

The music academy is a day faculty, and although music will not be an extra-curricular exercise per se, many of the music actions happen at evenings and weekends. He admits that it’s fairly a compact programme for the kids, however they take pleasure in it, while most mother and father like the thought of not having to drive their youngsters throughout city to music classes! Iyad’s goal with the music academy is to not produce live performance artists, although he can be delighted in the event that they did, however to encourage an appreciation of music, to create a brand new era of legal professionals, docs and such who admire the artwork. For Iyad, any profitable society has music at its core. Music is vital in schooling all spherical, in addition to making a extra civilised, extra educated society.

For the following three years, the brand new music academy shall be concentrating on ensuring that issues are working at their finest, however Iyad admits that they’ve concepts and plans for additional growth. One related venture is the thought for a music competition. The college has a wonderful 500-seater theatre. In the intervening time they don’t have a concert-standard piano, however as soon as they’ve acquired one then Iyad desires to launch a music competition. The concept is that this won’t solely present a stage for native musicians and musicians from the Center East, but in addition will entice worldwide artists to come back and carry out and train.

Iyad Sughayer at Mashrek International School (Photo Nader Raddad)
Iyad Sughayer at Mashrek Worldwide College (Picture Nader Raddad)

Iyad admits that he didn’t realise fairly how a lot work can be concerned in creating the academy. Beforehand all he needed to do was flip up for a gig, play after which go dwelling, however now he has discovered an exceptional quantity, about issues that he by no means thought he would.

Iyad’s most up-to-date recording was a disc of Aram Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto and Concerto-Rhapsody for Piano and Orchestra with BBC Nationwide Orchestra of Wales, conductor Andrew Litton on BIS [see my review], a follow-up to his disc of Khachaturian solo piano music [see my review]. He loves Khachaturian’s music. He factors out that Armenian music is kind of near Arabic music, and Iyad thinks which may be why he was drawn to the composer’s work. While it is not Beethoven or Brahms, Khachaturian’s music deserves to be performed.

While finding out on the Royal Northern School of Music (RNCM), Iyad had performed Khachaturian’s Toccata. A good friend had began his personal orchestra and requested Iyad to carry out a concerto with them. As a substitute of one thing like Liszt’s Piano Concerto No 2, they selected one thing much more uncommon. Iyad had heard Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto on disc, and they also determined to carry out it with the orchestra as an effective way to begin. Iyad’s instructor then urged that he have a look at Khachaturian’s piano music, a path that led to him being requested to do the primary BIS disc, which went down properly. There may be extra Khachaturian solo piano music, however Iyad can also be eager to take a look at different repertoire.

While Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto is a comparatively recognized amount, the later Concerto-Rhapsody is much extra of an unknown amount (it doesn’t even appear to have been carried out in live performance within the UK). The Concerto-Rhapsody is a far much less simply approachable work than the concerto, however Iyad hopes that individuals will give it a second likelihood. Some critiques of the disc have been lower than constructive concerning the Concerto-Rhapsody, however he has grown to like the piece, and feels that it deserves efficiency, and needs listeners to come back to like it. Given the work’s kind, it’s a problem for the orchestra in addition to the soloist, an enormous work, robust however price it.

Andrew Keener, Iyad Sughayer, Andrew Litton at BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff for the Khachaturian concertos recording
Andrew Keener, Iyad Sughayer, Andrew Litton at BBC Hoddinott Corridor, Cardiff for the Khachaturian concertos recording

In actual fact, a lot of his repertoire is early classical, a interval that he loves. In March 2023 he begins an entire Mozart piano sonata cycle at Leicester Museum Live performance Collection, on the invitation of Nicholas Daniel, inventive director of the Leicester Worldwide Music Competition. Iyad will work his approach via the sonatas between then and 2024. However he feels he would wish to carry out the cycle three or 4 instances earlier than even contemplating recording. He has simply turned 29, and has been fortunate sufficient to launch solo, chamber music and concerto discs, so he isn’t in a rush to report his subsequent disc. 

The repertoire for the Khachaturian got here naturally, and he desires any new disc to be the identical. For the reason that pandemic, he has tried to play what he’s in love with. And he admits that your method adjustments over time, in order that he performed a number of the Mozart sonatas when he was 15 or 16, however his older self prefers to play them in a different way, his speeds will be slower. In addition to pushing himself to study the entire cycle of Mozart sonatas, the Leicester concert events shall be his first inventive residency and his first such full cycle of works by a composer. One other composer that pursuits him is Haydn, and while the entire sonatas can be a venture and a half, he would love to think about a cycle of Haydn concertos.

One other composer we speak about is Schubert, with a cycle of Schubert sonatas being one thing that you’d develop into. One among Iyad’s lecturers was accountable an version of the Schubert sonatas with completions of the unfinished ones and it was he who suggested Iyad to take a look at Schubert’s sonatas.

On 6 December 2022, Iyad is giving a lunchtime recital at Wigmore Corridor with the French oboist Armand Djikoloum (one other YCAT artist) performing Britten, Felix Mendelssohn, Poulenc, R Schumann and Tchaikovsky [further details], a programme that they’ve already carried out on the Lammermuir Competition. On 7 March 2023, Iyad returns to Wigmore Corridor for a solo recital that includes his favorite composers in a single live performance, Khachaturian, Mozart, Robert Schumann and Sibelius [further details], a programme that he shall be acting at concert events throughout January and February 2023. Then he returns to the corridor on 21 March 2023 with Jamaican-American viola participant Jordan Bak (a YCAT artist) in a programme of Brahms, Falla and Isang Yun (1917-1995) [further details]. The subsequent yr is an thrilling time for Iyad, with one thing on virtually each week, and he’s grateful to Nicholas Daniels and to YCAT for retaining him busy.

He began taking part in the piano in Jordan at across the age of 4. Classical music was not a traditional type of artwork in Jordan when he was rising up, and the conservatoire there was good as much as a sure stage, nevertheless it turned clear that he must go away the nation if he wished to comply with extra intense musical coaching. So, on the age of 14, he travelled on his personal to Manchester and began at Chetham’s. He had a beautiful time at Chetham’s, being amongst individuals who cherished what he cherished.  From there he studied on the RNCM, then Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (the place he gained the faculty’s Gold Medal) earlier than returning to RNCM the place he now teaches and calls Manchester his joint dwelling. Shifting to the UK on the age of 14 was made simpler by his music, it gave him a cause for the transfer. He admits that it’s irritating for performers at a sure degree in Jordan as there are not any competitions, few alternatives and no festivals. When in school Jordan, he was the one one in his classroom who performed an instrument.

He has two older sisters, and Iyad’s curiosity in music began when his father purchased an electrical keyboard. Iyad’s grandfather adored music, as a listener, however no-one in his household performed an instrument. However at 4 years previous, Iyad was taking part in tunes that he heard on the tv on the keyboard. He began piano classes and cherished it, although like most kids he didn’t all the time wish to follow. His mom, who has little curiosity in music, would include him to each lesson and would make sure that he did certainly do his follow. He feels that he’s very, very fortunate.

As soon as he had left Jordan, he would return within the holidays, however when he obtained busier it could typically be simply yearly. Now, the brand new academy offers him the excuse to return to Amman and to go to his mother and father. 

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