The Oud: Artistically Bridging Orient and Occident

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The innovative production company La Nef presents Udistik Orkestra, a concert showcasing the oud – the Oriental lute – and directed by composer, performer and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Wells-Oberegger.

The show’s organizers promise a trip across various artistic universes. Concertgoers will be exposed to different currents of Middle-Eastern music, novel rearrangements of Western masterpieces and original compositions by Udistik Orkestra that explore the overlap between Oriental and Occidental traditions, all thanks to the marvelous potentialities of the oud, ancestor of the lute.

This is not the only case of cultural intermingling. Wells-Oberegger offers the example of the violin, which has become an essential instrument in Indian music, with its distinct personality and color. He also mentions the integration of guitar into African music, which gave the world the singular style of African guitarists.

“In the same vein, I think the oud integrates itself well into Western music,” he says. “I only see positive things coming out of this fascinating and promising musical cross-pollination.”

Wells-Oberegger is convinced of the oud’s great potential. He believes the instrument is “connected with the emotions and very expressive, especially with its glissandos and its melodies, which are similar to the nuances of the human voice.”

Oud Every Which Way

Wells-Oberegger’s first encounters with the oud took place during his youth. He vividly remembers the emotion he felt when he heard oud pieces for the first time during his Renaissance lute studies at the Cégep Marie-Victorin.

This led him to deepen his research and collaborate with different ensembles such as La Nef, La Mandragore, ESEM, Cercamon, De Lònga and La Strada. He stresses the crucial importance that his collaborations with La Nef (including Luz Ibérica, Ulysse, Îles, Le fil d’Ariane, Skin, Déserts, Aucassin et Nicolette and La Nef reçoit La Rotta) had on the development of his current project.

“It’s super-inspiring,” he says of the multidisciplinary company’s original approach. Case in point: La Nef offers programs that invite masters from all around the world. “It allows you to discover new musical languages and appreciate new ways of approaching world music.”

His most recent collaboration with La Nef, Saga, is a musical tale about Scandinavian mythology. According to Wells-Oberegger, the show eloquently exemplifies the oud’s formidable potential to be incorporated into different musical cultures: “It can truly be integrated in any which way.”

Udistik Orkestra, presented by La Nef, performs on March 14 at 8 p.m. in Bourgie Hall. www.la-nef.com

Translated by Natasha Beaudin Pearson

 

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