Issue No.
196, August 2014 Latest update 9 2014f August 2014, at 4.39 am
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     Artist of the Month

´╗┐Wissam Murad Talent and Promise

When others were still learning to talk, Wissam Murad, at age five, was already singing. He grew up surrounded by music and musicians, which provided him with exposure to different forms of music. His brother, Said Murad, is the composer and arranger for Sabreen and is one of the prominent figures influencing music in Palestine. Murad's talent, dedication and interest made his family provide him with the necessary training to embark on his journey into the world of music.

He first developed his voice and percussion skills while participating in Bidayat, a music group initiated by Sabreen in 1987. His first performance was at the age of eight at the YMCA in Jerusalem, followed by many performances with Bidayat in Jerusalem, Birzeit, Nazareth, Acre and elsewhere. This gave him the experience not just to perform, but also to understand music and capitalize on it. He went on to learn the oud at Sabreen's training centre in 1987, after which he continued to further develop his skills through his own musical endeavours.

While music was essential to Murad, so was education for someone so clearly in touch with creativity. By the time he finished high school he was completely committed to studying music. He studied jazz piano for three years at the Rubin Academy for Music in Jerusalem, and took courses in classical and jazz theory, as well as piano lessons.

His voice allows the listener to perceive flashes of his finely-honed craft, which seems to get more polished with each new cut. Murad defies categorization in his music. Complex and cerebral, his voice and music are simultaneously warm and soulful, empathetic and ethereal.

In 1995, he joined Sabreen as a singer and percussionist and participated as oud player on their CD "Ala Fein," and as vocalist and arranger on their latest production, "Mazooj." He performed with Sabreen at the Arab World Institute in Paris, at the Jerash Festival in Jerash (Jordan) and at the Opera House in Cairo, as well as performing solo at international music festivals in Norway, Italy and Morocco. Murad also performed at the signing ceremony of the Geneva Accord in Switzerland and at the Dead Sea World Economic Forum in Jordan.

Murad has written and composed music for the plays "The Mission," "Cannibals" and "Um Dia," and performed as a singer on a new production called "Kalila Wa Dimna." Among his most important works was the re-arrangement of some of Sayyed Darwish's songs for the "Darwish Ya Sayyed" play which won the first prize at the Masrahid Festival in Acre in the summer of 2003. Moreover, he has performed next to local and international musicians, such as David Broza and the Belgian guitar player Phillip Catherine.

Murad's career evolved to include contributions for recorded film scores, in addition to leading music training workshops locally and internationally, such as the school concerts he led in Norway. He also participated as instructor and idea developer in an educational project titled "Child Testimony," implemented at local schools through the Sabreen Association for Artistic Development. His approach to teaching music stems from his experience with Bidayat and the influence of classical Arabic music, where one is taught the art of music rather than instructed on how to play music. His workshops cover percussion, the oud and choir singing, serving different age groups, mainly school children.

As a fulltime musician and a practicing artist, Murad is currently working on a new production of musical pieces and songs developed in cooperation with local and international musicians. "This CD represents a challenge for me. The music created covers a fairly wide scope and crosses a lot of boundaries," says Murad. The new CD reflects Murad's many influences of music and culture, which can be observed in his musical compositions and performances, capturing everything from classical Arabic music to jazz. The CD will be released in the second half of October.

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