Matthew Barley/Cellist

Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.

Victor Hugo

I’ve found the Gulf Pearl-Divers…

…well, nearly. For two years I’ve been trying to locate some bona fide pearl-divers in the Gulf region (who, by reputation, have a wonderfully rich collection of songs), in order to transcribe their music to use for workshop and composition inspiration. Last week in Abu Dhabi I was taken to meet the wonderful Major Ali, director or the Emirates Marine Environmental Group. Major Ali was taught pearl diving by his Grandfather nearly 60 years ago, and knows all the singers in what is obviously a very rich tradition. On my next trip there for the Festival in a few weeks time, he has promised to take me out for a pearl-diving lesson, and to meet some of these  musicians. I’m very excited – suddenly the rather enigmatic land of the UAE seems to be opening up, through its culture. Watch this space.

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