by Pigeon Lobien
BAGUIO CITY– A Palestinian oud player ended his two-month-long sojourn to Europe and Asia with two performances at the Tam-awan artist village and Kikan resto-bar over the weekend including a lesson in playing Cordilleran nose flutes from a well-revered local musician.
Thirty-three-year-old music teacher George Kandalaft amused patrons at the Tam-awan café as he provided an hour-long musical display of sheer talent playing Arabic tunes, his improvisations or improvs and the popular Game of Thrones theme to start the end of his two months journey.
Kandalaft armed with a short neck oud, a lute type musical instrument, tried to capture the feeling of a mix of the audience at the artist village which was drenched with rain brought about by monsoon and the lingering tropical storm “Ineng” on a lazy Saturday afternoon.
“Will try to capture your feeling, my feeling under this rain,” said the Palestinian, who has released original and improved music while teaching oud playing in Israel.
The oud is a short-neck lute-type, a pear-shaped stringed instrument with 11 or 13 strings grouped in 5 or 6 courses.
“All I want to do is promote Arabic music and fuse it with the world (modern) music,” said Kandalaft, who has been playing professionally at 16.
He learned to play oud as a two-year-old in his hometown of Nazareth, which is also home to Jesus. But he has since moved to the more popular city of Jerusalem to pursue his dream of playing and promote world peace.
He studied music at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and music therapy at the University of Haifa.
As a music teacher, he is proud of three students who have followed in his footsteps: play and teach oud to a younger generation.
Kandalaft left Israel last June 21 for Italy and found his way to Greece then in Thailand and late last month in the Philippines where he stayed in General Santos, Davao, Cebu, Palawan then Laoag, Ilocos Norte.
He finally arrived in the “cooler” Baguio city where he was met by torrential rain and a priest, Earle Cuna, who served as his guide.
In all the places he went, Khandalaft mixed adventure with the wonders of human companionship and sharing especially culture.
He explored the mountains as well as the seas. He is a licensed scuba diver in Israel.
“This is such a beautiful place and a wonderful experience,” he summed. He played oud in a church in Las Pinas in the Metro where parishioners showed their appreciation with a certificate of appreciation.
In Laoag, he played for school children who played and sang the popular “Buwan” which he accompanied that drew cheers among the audience.
“Buwan” has become his favorite Filipino music since hearing the Laoag children sing it.
His two-month journey was encapsulated in the Lonely Traveller, his fourth piece at Tam-awan where he is “happy to see and meet new people, but miss his own family, and sad too that he will leave his new friends soon.”
With Game of Thrones, Kandalaft shows that he is in tune with the popular culture as he is also well versed in pop music which he plays also during performances.
Kalinga born Ben Sokkong, formerly at the University of the Philippines now teaching music at the University of Baguio, later met with Kandalaft at Tam-awan to share notes on their music.
Each tried a hand on their instrument of choice. (PNA)