• June 02, 2018
  • Iraq Solidarity News (Al-Thawra)
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Born to a father director of the National Music Conservatory in Jordan and a violinist and music teacher mother, 26-year-old Layth Sidiq was predestined to a bright musical career in the Kingdom.

However, it is outside Jordan, in Boston more precisely, that the young man traced his path towards virtuosity, which recently got him selected to represent Jordan at the final rounds of the international Seifert Zbigniew Violin Competition in Poland. 

Next July, Sidiq will compete alongside 11 other violinists from across the globe, as the only Arab selected in the accolade. 

“One year ago, I heard of this prestigious competition that features the violin in a different way. I thought it would be a great opportunity to represent Jordan and the Arab world: firstly because of the experience of playing in front of a jury of very high standards but, more importantly, to shed light on our Arab culture,” the young violinist told The Jordan Times. 

“I want to present our culture in a way that showcases its beauty and diversity and break the stereotypes about what an Arab violinist can do,” Sidiq stressed, adding: “I also believe that the element of improvisation is a powerful bridge that connects Arab music and Jazz, and I want to showcase this to the world.” 

"Through the competition, held every two years, it is hoped to discover musical individualities as great as Zbigniew Seifert himself," said music critic Mary James. "It has happened before that the competitors who undertook to interpret Seifert’s compositions then introduced them into their standard concert repertoire. 

This is how we are fighting together to ensure this remarkable Polish artist has due place in the pantheon of international stars,” she said about the international event. 

Giving back to the places that nurtured him 

Living in Boston where he is the director of the Tufts Arab Music Ensemble and the music director of the Centre for Arab Culture Children Orchestra, Sidiq regularly visits Jordan, where he is planning to bring an educational programme to “give back to the country that has given me so much”. 

“I was born in Iraq to Iraqi parents and Jordan has been my home since I was one year old,” Sidiq remembered, stressing: “I believe that, with education, we can shape our society to become more appreciative of diversity, more open-minded and, more importantly, to show that the arts area is a valuable asset to a country.” 

“I have definitely been blessed with a great family, where both my parents were involved in music.Growing up in a house full of music is the best start any musician can have, and I’m thankful for the support my parents have given me in this journey,” the 26-year-old highlighted, voicing his gratitude to his music initiator Timur Ibrahimov, whom he described as “the most important violin teacher I have ever had”. 

“He started me on the right path and, today, I see the results of the discipline that he instilled in me,” Sidiq recalled. 

Ever learning soul 

The young man, who described his violin as “the greatest companion" which has been on his shoulder all his life will be performing music from his own album “Son of Tigris” during the final rounds of the competition this July. 

“Because of my constant travel and my interest in different cultures, it is very difficult to define my style, as it blends in with the musical environment that I’m in,” Sidiq explained, adding “I grew up studying and playing western classical music and, when I got to the US, I became exposed to a wide array of different styles from different cultures.” 

"However, I decided to delve deeper into Arab music and return back to my roots,” he said, expressing “the farther you go from home the more you appreciate it”. 

“I want to keep researching, preserving and presenting Arab music to the rest of the world, with the hopes that, with music, we can transcend the current political narrative of the Middle East,” Sidiq explained, voicing what he feels is “an artist’s responsibility to use art in a humanitarian way”. 

Music: federating universal language 

“I believe music is a universal language that transcends borders and stereotypes and communicates with even the most stubborn of hearts. It can heal and it can kill,” the young Jordanian stated, adding “when used wisely, I truly believe that music is the way to save the world”. 

He has been putting these words to practice, by taking part in two projects: one called “More Music More Love” where he travelled to Zambia to give workshops to underprivileged children and raise funds to help initiate the Lusaka Youth Orchestra, still running to this day. 

“This was a unique trip and truly opened my eyes to the responsibility I have as a musician,” he remembered, also citing the “Kalesma” project initiated by his Greek musician friend Vasilis Kostas, whereby they will soon travel to Greece to present a concert and start a permanent music education programme for orphaned and abandoned children. 

“When we fund the arts, we are funding a brighter future,” the musician concluded. 

By Camille Dupire


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