Riad is releasing his third acclaimed album: Words of Peace on June 21, 2019.
Riad Abdel-Gawad is founder and Executive Director of Midan Elmusica (The Music Square), which exhibits to and informs the US public about what is called: “Arabic Music” from Egypt. Dr. Abdel-Gawad fulfilled his academic life by earning his PhD in music composition from Harvard University. He also studied with Frederic Rzewski at the Liége Conservatory of Music. Yet he maintained and progressed with his professional life by performing as a street musician in France, Germany and Belgium. Honing his violin performing skills and getting hired for parties and cultural events, Riad — as a street musician — was able to cultivate his musical art in public and “competed” at the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert in Brussels with the Roma musicians from Romania (who appeared in the 1993 documentary, Latcho Drom).
Dr. Riad traveled to several African nations, including in the south of Cameroon deep into the Equatorial Rain Forest to perform in the 1st Story-Telling Festival in Oyup, and to attend a masterclass with several young composers from all over Africa in the Congo (DRC). He performed in international music festivals in Africa, Europe and the US, including the Chicago World Music Festival. He also taught and shared with student-musicians in courses, musical training, and workshops of methodology for the study and practice of one of the undisputed Sufi masters of Egyptian music: Abdo Dagher. These included for instance: the Carnegie Hall Musical Exchange, the German National Music Schools in (East) Berlin and Hanover, the Netherlands Embassy in Cairo, and the American Universities in Cairo and Beirut.
As an Artist Fellow at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Dr. Riad invited his teacher Mr. Dagher to give for the first time a 5-day Arabische Musik workshop and performances with German musicians and for audiences. During this time Dr. Riad maintained his apartment near in residence to Mr. Dagher’s home and music salon in one of the most popular districts in Cairo: Hadayek El Qobba. In the stream of ethnomusicology, Dr. Riad logged an oral and aural diary about this uniquely Egyptian style of playing the violin. Working with his Egyptian colleagues in a type of cooperative at Dagher’s music salon, Dr. Riad notated hundreds of exercises and compositions and made them readily available to young Egyptian musicians who sought employment in the Recording Industry in Cairo. Dagher had already taught generations of musicians in his music salon. But Dr. Riad facilitated receiving funding from the Netherlands Embassy in Cairo to create an “alternative” “Music Salon School” for all levels of musicianship, including middle school, high school, college and graduate students to help them practice, as well as to fabricate such endangered folk instruments as the rababa and the mizmar. This work culminated in the publication of Dagher’s six original compositions by International Opus. Riad thus contributed to disseminating a living new school of stylistic musical innovation within Arabic traditional music from Egypt — in what German Professor Dr. Isaam El Malah said to Dr. Riad about Abdo Dagher: “Mr. Dagher is a living and breathing embodiment of the Middle Ages’ musical masters“. Dagher’s salon has attracted for generations professional musicians, aficionados, and visitors from all over the world to hear his musical exercises, compositions and improvisations. Dagher — an octogenarian composer and violinist — accompanied one the most celebrated singers ever: Oum Kalsoum.