The Return of Gamal…

A concert with Music Arran – Gamal Harris will play on Friday 8th April at Arran High School

Words by Alice Maxwell

Audiences may remember prize winning pianist Gamal Khamis, who took Arran by storm in 2017. He is making a welcome return to Arran, performing at the High School on Friday April 8th at 7.30pm. His music captures many different sound worlds using a huge range of colour – and sensitivity, imagination and animation characterize his playing. His programme is a refreshing mixture of the old and new. Familiar works by Elgar, Beethoven and Mozart are interspersed with music by contemporary composers – Amy Beech, George Stevenson and Daniel Kidane.

Gamal first performed at the Wigmore Hall at the age of ten, and has since performed at concerts, festivals and competitions all over the world. After gaining a mathematics degree, he completed his musical education at the Royal College of Music in London. He has since performed concertos by Mozart, Beethoven, Greig, Faure, Rachmaninov and Stravinsky. He has been given world premiers by leading composers, including Timothy Salter and Mark Anthony Turnage. Regularly heard on Radio 3 and Radio 4, Gamal has also performed on Danish and Arabic television. He is a member of the Lipatti Piano Quartet which won the Elias Fawcett Trust Award in 2016.

The highlight of the evening was pianist Gamal Khamis, whose sensitivity and imagination shone out of his three performances. Financial Times

To avoid having to fumble about with programme notes during the concert, here are a few pointers to the music he will perform which I hope will add to your enjoyment of the concert.

Bach (1685-1750) Adagio BWV 974

This solo keyboard arrangement was originally written as an Oboe concerto. The simple bass line keeps time at walking pace, while the right hand meanders beautifully above it, wandering through a maze of sadness and beauty. The music finally comes to rest in a place of spirituality, calmness and peace.

Elgar (1857-1934) – Salut d’amour (Love’s Greeting)

Written for Elgar’s fiancée, Alice Roberts, as an engagement present, this simple theme invokes treasured landscapes and memories. It is gentle and charming.

George Stevenson (1987) – Flashbacks

i Tense but agile ii Mournful iii Heavy, frantic iv Distant fanfares

These pieces were commissioned by Gamal Khamis and Christopher Kent to be performed as part of their narrative recital “Odyssey – Words and music of Finding Home” – readings and music from the First World War. “Flashbacks” are a series of imagined interruptions in the mind of one struggling to return to their old life after a period of sustained trauma and loss.
George Stevenson was born in Edinburgh in 1987 and grew up performing as a jazz pianist around Scotland.

Frank Bridge (1871-1941)- Lament

Bridge’s Lament reflects his horror of war (especially the First World War), but is also a search for spiritual consolation. This introspective piece has an eclectic mix of influences, from the deeply romantic to the Blues.

Amy Bryce – Freehand

In Freehand, Bryce examines how the victims of war are individual tragedies, not just numbers of dead to be counted. The piano begins with the right hand alone, representing an individual voice struggling to find freedom. When it is joined by the left hand, the two parts scramble to be heard while speaking their different stories at the same time. The two strands gradually come together, ending with rhythmic unity.

Amy Bryce grew up in Sussex and lives in London writing music with composers across the UK and Europe. She specialises in writing music for collaborative theatre making and educational settings.

Ivor Gurney (1889-1937) – Prelude in F sharp

Gurney was born in Gloucester and was one of the great World War 1 poets. He also wrote string quartets, songs and piano works. This F# prelude is nostalgic and lyrical.

Daniel Kidane 1986 – Air for a journey

This musical Air is inspired by the dream-like nature of sea journeys, and especially by the experience Daniel had of sleeping on the roof of a fishing boat in the Red Sea, when the stars were incredibly bright and vivid. The work opens in the piano’s highest register, before multiple scales begin to fall in phases. During the meditative central section, the pianist holds the pedal down, inviting the listener to feel submerged in sound.

Daniel’s music has strong multi-cultural influences. His mother is Russian, his father Eritrean and he grew up in the UK. His music has been performed extensively across the UK and abroad as well as being broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

Mozart – Sonata in C, K330

This sonata was written between 1781 and 1784, during which time Mozart moved to Vienna and married Constanza Weber – much against his father’s wishes. The music reflects his new found confidence, and is assertive and mature. Albert Einstein describes the sonata as a “masterpiece in which every note belongs – one of the most loveable sonatas Mozart ever wrote”.

Debussy (1862-1918) – Selection of preludes

i. La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune ii La cathédrale engloutie iii Ce qu’a vu le vent d’ouest

Debussy composed 24 preludes and in keeping with the times, each prelude was evokes a certain mood or image. Debussy placed the titles of the pieces at the end of the works so as not to influence the listener’s imaginations.

La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune has mysterious descending scales and chords evoking the complete stillness of a moonlit evening.

La Cathedrale engloutie (the sunken cathedral) is based on an ancient Breton legend about Ys Cathedral which was submerged by the ocean in penance for the princess’s wanton ways. On clear mornings the cathedral rises from the depths and open 5ths evoke church bells, and chant like melodies represent the priest’s incantations.

Ce qu’a vu le vent d’ouest (What the West Wind Saw) is inspired by The Garden of Paradise by Hans Christian Andersen.

Beethoven 1770-1827 – Sonata in A flat, op 110

This is Beethoven’s penultimate sonata. Its turbulence and passion is typical of the last period of Beethoven’s life.

Please do a Lateral Flow Test beforehand