New, Old, Undiscovered or World Renowned; The Five Records You Can Always Turn To
Continuing the series of music articlesin which individuals select five records particularly special to them, we today feature film composer and pianist Ghiya Rushidat‘s own selections and present the latest instalment of Tuck Magazine’s ‘The Greatest Beats of Your Heart’.
Born in 1984, Ghiya Rushidat’s musical talent didn’t take long to emerge as she began to play the piano and the music she heard at the early age of four. Channelling her interest in music towards a promising career, she began studying concert level piano performance at the age of twelve and earned the LRSM certificate from the Royal College of Music in London, Diplome d’Etudes Musicales from Lyon and a Bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Yermouk University and the National Music Conservatory in Jordan.
In 2008, Ghiya entered the world of film music in 2008, scoring ‘Desire’ a silent short produced by the Royal Film Commission. She soon then began working on several successful films and projects such as documentaries and features with renowned TV stations as Al-Jazeera, CNN, and BBC. One of her productions was a UCLA feature called ‘Mother Lover Daughter Symphony’.
Towards the end of 2013 a concert took place for Ghiya at Jordan’s Al Hussein Cultural Centre which sadly resulted in violence, the venue’s staff beating Ghiya and her fellow musicians after being accused of insulting the government and defaming the national flag following a comment by one of the musicians. The musicians decided to file a complaint with the police only to discover that the venue had done the same against them, both sides in time deciding to drop the charges. This was not however without the incident creating a storm nationwide, Ghiya and the musicians gaining support from Jordanians, but not the government.
A turning point in Ghiya’s career came in 2014, when she moved to the United States to explore her film composition opportunities in the Hollywood movie industry. Upon arrival, she began working on ‘Pen of Mirrors’ film starring Eric Roberts, her music receiving outstanding and positive feedback from music experts and professionals within the Hollywood industry.
Ghiya is recognised as one of Jordan’s most innovative musical talents and one of the very few female film composers in the Middle East and the world. She has successfully integrated her cultural background, wide exposure to classical music and understanding of western music trends into her film music.
In addition to playing over 150 concerts in Jordan and abroad, Ghiya’s composition ‘Yassamine‘ has been performed in Italy by the Gli Enarmonici Ensemble, making her the first Arab composer to have their work perfomed by the Ensemble.
‘Yassamine’ was originally composed as a soundtrack for a documentary film, one of 12 documentaries and 7 features for Al Jazeera News and Documentary Channels Ghiya has composed original soundtracks for.
Along with long documentary films, Ghiya has also composed original soundtracks for plays, feature films, short films, animation films, photo galleries and TV spots.
For Ghiya, music isn’t just a career but rather a life’s passion and a haven from the constraints of the material world.
What is your earliest musical memory?
While waiting for my school bus to pick me up at 7:20 everyday, I would spend the entire time playing piano with the backpack on my back, and mum by my side (sometimes enjoying and sometimes frustrated with me, laughs).
How did you enter the world of scoring film?
It was a very beautiful ‘meant-to-be’ coincidence. My musician friend recommended me to his filmmaker friend who was looking for a composer for his short. I got so excited and that was actually my very first time trying to compose an entire piece and an entire score. I scored and recorded the movie in 2 days having an interesting flow of ideas. I was shaking in my boots and I can tell my sound engineer then sensed it. But since then, and through word of mouth and people liking my music, I started getting more and more offers and gigs! And here I am 30 projects later.
Are there any directors for whom you would like to score?
I have a dream and will go after it, of scoring a Christopher Nolan movie. His movies speak to my heart, and we share so many beliefs about time, space, universe and dimensions. I even composed an Interstellar theme because the movie reminded me of my relationship with my dad (who passed away 5 years ago). He is a brilliant and ahead of his time director. I would also like to work with Tim Burton.
What do you feel are the creative differences, if any, between scoring for film and compositions for your own album?
I get asked that question a lot and honestly, I can only answer according to my own experience. When composing for an album you are your own boss- sometimes, where you decide the style, the vibe, flavour and structure. While composing for pictures you have to follow the motion/emotion of the movie, the backstories of the characters, the feeling you want to trigger, director’s vision. etc. I must say, I enjoy composing for film more than composing for an album.
In terms of performing on stage or recording, are there any people with whom you would like to collaborate?
I love working with all talented passionate people. I have a long list of musicians I am interested in collaborating with on so many levels. David Garret, Piano Guys, definitely Yanni, just off the top of my head.
In terms of the 2013 concert at the Al Hussein Cultural Centre, how did you feel being attacked by the security guards? Was there a feeling of betrayal by the government and/or police?
I felt insulted and hurt, it really hurts when you are trying to hold a peaceful evening of nothing but music and ends up with such violence. We were betrayed by so many governmental profiles that we approached for protection and they failed to speak out the truth. The politics of all that is just so sad and since then I have had a different perspective of how things work in my country. I even managed to “filter” people in my life accordingly.
Did this incident heighten your awareness of political matters and are you keen on raising current and other issues now and in future, and if so, how, etc?
Definitely. It is not a matter to take lightly. Artists and musicians are not treated the best in my country as we thrive to reflect a great image about our home when we represent Jordan outside its borders. There are hundreds and thousands of great talents that need to see the light. And being very politically active myself, I hope I can strike that chord in a right way and be a pioneer in changing the cultural scene into an even better one.
Tell me about forthcoming projects, those of your own and others.
I am working on my first film scores album. I signed a contract 3 years ago with an Egyptian record company to release my album but that never saw the light of day unfortunately. Now I am working on new music and new styles with the best musicians and orchestrators in the world, working also on an album for a well-known musician in the industry. I am also discussing a contract with an events management company to have me tour in 7 countries in the Middle East performing some of my compositions. In 2016, I will be scoring a Bollywood movie that is currently in the pre-production phase, a cell phone game, video game and will hold two fund-raising concerts in Los Angeles and Jordan for cancer patients and orphans above the age of fourteen.
What are your professional hopes for the future?
I want to inspire people, I have so many dreams that I am following to try to make the world a better place. I want people to pay more attention to music and the beauty around us. I want to win an academy award for best original score, not for the fame of it but to prove that everything on this planet is possible. We are so caught up in the chaos of war and politics, there is poverty, famine, child labour and hundreds of causes that I can try and use my talent and fanbase in drawing attention to. This is my major goal in 2016.
Here are my five selections:
1.Loreena McKennitt – Tango to Evora (Consoul Trainin & Pink Noisy Remix) (1991) US Warner Bros / feat. Anastasia Zannis Italy 2012 X-Energy Records 12”
I have always been a fan of Tango but never got the chance to learn how to dance it, but it is on my bucket list. A piece that is full of passion with an upbeat flavour, I work out to this music and can also listen to it when I feel like relaxing too; a perfect combination of many moods.
2. James Horner – A Kaleidoscope of Mathematics (from ‘A Beautiful Mind’) 2001 US Decca Records LP track
James Horner was the composer that ignited my passion to film composition. I have an unexplainable relationship with his music and I really wish I had met him. I was in shock for days when he passed away. This piece with all its colours and textures revives me and taps into all frequencies. Horner is one of the smartest composers in my opinion, in layering different rhythms so smoothly, and his chord progressions and transitions give me goosebumps everytime I listen to his pieces. May he RIP.
3. Eric Clapton / Derek and the Dominos: Layla (1970) UK Polydor LP track
Eric Clapton. Need I say more? This is my road-trip/chill-out song. I sing it at the top of my lungs only because it suits my vocal range. I have a horrible voice so I sing this when I am alone.
4. Jem: It’s Amazing (2008) UK ATO Records LP track and single
It’s amazing when you listen to uplifting and motivating lyrics. We need more of these songs now, there is nothing one can not do if they have the will and passion. We constantly need to remind ourselves of our unlimited abilities and super-powers. Yes, we can walk into walls and read minds if we want to.
5. Avicii: Wake Me Up (2013) US/ Europe Universal / PRMD album track and single
Joyful, I enjoy listening to it and all its covers. I came across one cover by an accordionist and it made my day. And the club mix is great too! Makes me happy.
Ghiya Rushidat is a film composer, pianist and political activist from Jordan, numerous scores for film and television already to her name. She has also performed over 150 concerts internationally. Ghiya is currently based in the United States where she continues to work on a number of projects and plans to tour the Middle East also.