We’re currently working on our project Orchestra of Samples, a long-term all encompassing sampling extravaganza, featuring recorded musicians from around the world, from Mexico to Senegal, Brazil to France. Sampling ‘sans frontières’ you might say!
December 2011 and we headed to Egypt to play at the Cairo Disco 2011 event, where the organisers and the very helpful British Council introduced us to Egyptian ney player Mohammed Antar, who's a composer and founding conductor of the Ensemble Munajah for meditative middle-eastern music. His musical education began at the age of four, studying piano, flute, recorder and the accordion before learning how to play the ney. He's also blind which makes things even more incredible. Total respect.
His commitment to Middle-Eastern classical and traditional music, especially to spiritual branches of music, has made him a complete master of Arabic, Turkish and Persian ney blowing techniques. Mohammed likes to create links between both the rich musical heritage of Middle-Eastern music and of contemporary styles, so was totally across what we were doing.
He's performed in countries from Lebanon to Iran, and regularly plays in Egypt, Turkey and sometimes Europe, particularly in Hungary, as a soloist or with several musical groups including the Ensemble Munajah, Tara M and the Asil Ensemble (a group conducted by his brother, the oud player Mustafa Said). He's also released the albums The Arab Maqam (of solo ney improvisations) and Oriental Breeze, who he recorded with the Oriental Secrets Ensemble. With his band, the Sharqistan Quartette, he's also composed the soundtracks of two documentaries by director Hala El-Qoussy.