I am a composer, multi-instrumentalist and researcher with an interest in hidden sounds and stories.
In my compositional work I am currently exploring electroacoustic media in parallel with ongoing composing in extended modal traditions associated with the oud.
My current book project (in press with Interlink Books) is The Oud: An Illustrated History.
Currently my main collaborative project is connective tissue, a mixed-media exploration in partnership with artist Lin Li. Our completed works include Teatime!, Be water, be light and Unwept Tears. I have recently begun a collaboration on track releases and a new podcast series with Xacutti Music Publishing.
Two of my earlier collaborative 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.
My early career was as a concert pianist, following studies 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.
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 worked freelance for some time, while Professorial Research Associate at SOAS, University of London.
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.