Ahmad Al Khatib

© Hassane Mezine

Ahmad Al Khatib was born in 1974 in a Jordanian Palestinian refugee camp. He learnt to play the oud as a child, and then received instruction from the Palestinian musician Ahmad Abdel Qasem. He subsequently studied musicology and Western classical cello music at the Yarmūk University (Jordan), and in 1990 and 1991 was awarded first prize in the solo competition. He graduated with honours in 1997 and moved to Ramallah in Palestine, and joined the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in East Jerusalem. He taught in the Department of Oriental Music and then became director of the Department. In 1999, Ahmad formed the group Karloma, which comprises other teachers from the Conservatory, including Youssef Hbeisch.

In April 2002, the Israeli army reoccupied many Palestinian towns and cities, tightening restrictions on movement. Ahmad composed music during the curfews. In the same year, the visa enabling him to live in Palestine was not renewed. Forced to leave, he continued to work for the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, forging links with other conservatories in the Arab world. He published five innovative instruction books for the oudand five works of musical transcription for modern Arabic composers, which have now become references for musical instruction. Ahmad has been living in Sweden since 2004, where he obtained a master’s in Musical Education Methodology. He teaches Modal Music and Composition Theory, and Ensemble Music at the University of Gothenburg’s Academy of Music and Drama.

His first solo album, Sada (‘Resonance’), was released in 2004. The album mainly contains his own creations, and also pays homage to Jamil and Munir Bashir, musicians originally from the ‘Iraqi school’, which combines the Egyptian, Syrian and Turkish schools, and renews the identity of Arabic music. Throughout the Near East, Ahmad Al Khatib is seen as perpetuating the great virtuoso tradition of the oud. His dignified modesty is therefore even more impressive, as are his rectitude and flexibility, and the quality of his sound complemented by the depth of his thought. And these personality traits are found in his music, as his musical quest has the grave nobleness of an imperative quest for meaning. The son of a poet, he has always envied their ability to play with words, and admired their aptitude to formulate visions and sentiments for themselves and others; he has attempted to achieve this in his music. But although he uses music to express himself, he also uses it to communicate, and give precedence to the emotion generated in the listeners.

Available album : Sabîl