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New Silk Roads

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In my recent work I searched and gathered artists from different musical cultural backgrounds around the globe. I tried to integrate elements of Middle Eastern and Western musical cultures.
I created compositions with a mix of styles starting from a none attached place for mixed instrumentation ensemble.
I experimented with text in different languages to support my vision and few times as a starting point. Improvisation took a big part of the creative process and the end results. Then I tried to integrated movement to support the abstraction of the Arabic text.
This work resulted in a multi/inter/transcultural, inter/transdisciplinary music performance form that was mainly driven and inspired by the group shared values, goals and messages.
In this project, I am searching to develop and explore this form of creation further. I am trying to integrate elements from a rich eastern musical culture such as Chinese traditional music.

The inspiration of this idea came after a composition I premiered last summer in Paradiso Amsterdam together with Grachtenfestival. In the review by NRC they described my body movement as a “Ti Chi mastery” which was not my intention but definitely a fascination from a long time ago.
This led into an invitation by a Chinese dance group called the “Ground Breakers” who were interested in a collaboration with me. We developed ideas which resulted in co-producing a project I renamed as “The New Silk Road”.
“The Silk Road” used to be the vein through which Europe was connected to China through the Middle East. Nevertheless, “The New Silk Road” is a musical journey that will take us from China to Europe through the Middle East today.
The goal is to explore and create a compositions that have the influence of the three musical cultures. This composition will result in an interdisciplinary Music- Dance performance of 30 - 45 min long for a mixed instrumentation ensemble. ( my exam will show the musical part only as a work in progress )
The compositions are inspired by different musical traditions, with Nawras taking the musical traditions of countries and regions along the Silk Road as a source of inspiration.
By researching music styles and characteristics, and integrating elements of traditional folk compositions and regions along this route, new compositions will be translated into a journey, that takes the listener along.
First I will focus on incorporating elements of the Chinese music culture into my compositional work for a mixed instrumentation ensemble.
China has a huge musical culture from many different regions. I got introduced to a few traditional folk compositions through my Chinese colleagues. One of these compositions named “Xiao He Tang Shui” A Gentle Stream, caught my attention. This poetic love song is played instrumentally as well. After I researched the origin of the piece I realised that it arrives from a region in south western part of China called “Yunnan”. The composer and writer are unknown since the original melody and text are very old.
This piece spoke to me most for its simplicity and yet expressive melody. I decided to rearrange it and mix it with one of my compositions that had similar characteristics and shared meaning as well.
The arrangement will be the starting point and inspiration to write a new composition that translates my findings and inspiration from this new musical culture into my making process. This composition I named “Yunnan”. I integrated a Chinese text in the piece, inspired by ancient silk road.
Second composition, will be inspired by the region in the Middle East which the piece is named after as “Levant”. In this piece I researched different styles next to Arabic music. We will hear a virtuosity of Arabic melodies, jazz harmonies and classical counterpoint. Poetry takes a big part of the Arabic music culture which we will encounter here as well.

The third composition is inspired by western music styles and we would hear some classical, hip hop, R&B and jazz colours integrated. The piece is named Utrecht as it is my new home.

Artist statement

Nawras Altaky is a Singer, Composer, Improviser and Ud player based in Utrecht the Netherlands. In his compositions and performances, he explore the world music through interdisciplinary collaborations and intercultural projects, next to performing a varied repertoire of classical, traditional, modern, experimental and world music.

NRC: “Altaky distinguished a warm baritone voice with which he can sing breathtakingly, colourful, softly and effectively build tension through a sublime sense of timing.”

His inspiration is mostly driven by his values such as, freedom, humility, honesty, love and generosity. Altaky supports his message delivery with text, visuals and performance arts.
As a composer, Nawras expresses the strong connection between the different musical cultures he experiences such as Arabic and Western music. All merged in a virtuosity of contemporary and modern compositions flavoured with the beauty of Arabic melodies, the freedom of jazz harmonies and the power of classical counterpoint.

Nawras sees himself as an activist and a change maker. In March 2020 he wrote the song SOS Moria to help and safe 500 children in the refugee camp Moria. The composition was played as solidarity action all over The Netherlands by different artists and by church bells.

Also commissioned by the Grachtenfestival he premiered the composition “Labels Are Not Our Names” in Paradiso Amsterdam on the 15th of August 2021. Under the theme Listen! Music as a protest, he wrote this manifesto-composition that protested against labelling, dehumanisation and thinking in boxes.

He was chosen as one of the most promising classical musicians in The Netherlands and Belgium for the next decade by the Dutch/Belgian newspaper NRC.


My art must become the place where I want to be. The house where everyone can feel welcomed, free, comfortable, honest and yet confronted, awakened and connected.
My goals are to help myself and others to live to our potential. Sharing my values could be an inspiration to other people paths.
I want to offer an experience of a value, beyond labels, borders and prejudices.
Freedom, honesty, love, loyalty, spirituality, humility, generosity and equality are my values that drives my inspiration.

Learned during the studies

The most important skill I learned during my study is how can I learn something new by myself.

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