I am a composer, multi-instrumentalist and researcher with an interest in hidden sounds and stories.
Two of my other projects are Today is Good!, a song-writing project with asylum-seekers, and Beyond Mode, a quartet developing modal music of the Mediterranean. I am Founder and Director of the online platform for world music and sound art, Music Boat.
As a scholar, I have published numerous articles and books, including Orientalism and Musical Mission: Palestine and the West (2013), and Ligeti, Kurtág, and Hungarian Music during the Cold War (2007). In 2021 I won the American Musical Instrument Society’s Frances Densmore Prize for my article “Orientation through Instruments: The ʿūd, the Palestinian Home, and Kamīlyā Jubrān” in the world of music (new series), vol. 8, no. 1, 2019.
While Professor of Music at Royal Holloway, University of London, my research was generously supported by the AHRC, the British Academy, the Humboldt Foundation and the Leverhulme Trust. My teaching covered areas from Intercultural Performance to Music and Orientalism and Music during the Cold War, and I supervised doctoral research on topics from the Hungarian folk revival to Kuwaiti song. After 20 years in academia I now work freelance, while Professorial Research Associate at SOAS, University of London, and Honorary Research Professor at the Royal Northern College of music, Manchester.
In an earlier life I was a concert pianist, following training at the Royal Academy of Music, London and the Liszt Academy, Budapest, where I was a student of Ferenc Rados and Gyorgy Kurtág. I also studied composition and saxophone, and performed widely in Europe as soloist and in ensembles, broadcasting regularly for Hungarian radio. My specialism was new music – repertoire written after 1945, and I had the privilege to work with several major figures including Messiaen, Berio and Kurtág. In 2003 I co-directed a major London Kurtág festival which won the Royal Philharmonic Society Award.