Bashár Lúlua

Bashár Lúlua

Conductor

Conductor
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Bio

Bashár Lúlua, a naturalised British conductor of Iraqi-Palestinian heritage, was born in Damascus, Syria on 19 September 1963. He is the son of professors of English literature, and this propelled him toward the dialogue of cultures, which led to him publishing his translations from/into Arabic, English and German in the Middle East and Europe.   He studied at the Baghdad Conservatoire from 1970 onwards; at the Music University of Vienna (which was called the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst at the time) from 1981 onward; from 1985 on at the Kent State University in Kent, Ohio and from 1988 on at the University of Texas at Austin. Beyond his formal studies, he observed Herbert Blomstedt and the San Francisco Symphony (1994-95), as well as Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra (1998-2000).   Among his teachers were, in Baghdad, Vladimir Zinovieff, former Music Director of the Gnessin Symphony Orchestra, and Miklós Cser, formerly First Conductor at the Budapest National Opera, then Music Director in Pécs; in Kent, Ohio, Frank Wiley, composer and Conductor of the KSU New Music Ensemble; and in Austin, Texas, Louis Gardner Lane, formerly the Assistant Conductor to Georg Széll at the Cleveland Orchestra.   Bashár rehearsed an orchestra for the first time in Salzburg 1984 at the Mozarteum Summer Academy, where the New Orchestra of Boston, resident at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was touring. The rehearsal focussed on Beethoven’s Fourth.   At the final concert of the First St. Gallen Chamber Music Festival in Styria, in August 1987, Bashár gave his début outside academia by conducting Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, Ulf Hoelscher, concertmaster.   From 1996-98 Bashár founded and led his first ensemble, The ‘Ur Orchestra, in Austin, Texas, in works by Vivaldi and Mozart.   From 2002-04 he took over The Harrow Symphony Orchestra in London, whose repertoire he expanded with performances of such works as Carl Nielsen’s Flute Concerto, Tchaikovsky’s Third, Dvořák’s Sixth, as well as Christian Wolff’s ‘Burdocks’, which he prepared with the New Music Ensemble for the Musicircus: John Cage UnCaged, held at the Barbican Centre in January 2004 at the invitation of Stephen Montague and under the auspices of the BBC Symphony Orchestra.   Bashár founded and conducted the Philharmonia Scotland Strings, later Orchestra, 2005-06 in Glasgow, where he featured music by contemporary Scottish composers, such as Thomas Wilson, as well as seldom-heard works, such as Smetana’s ‘Šarka’.   Since 1985 he has appeared as a guest conductor with the choirs and orchestras of both American universities where he has studied, the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra (Haydn’s 104th), the Mannes College Symphony Orchestra (Tchaikovsky’s Fifth), the Ensemble Instrumental de Besançon (Mozart’s 39th), the Kelvin Ensemble, a student orchestra at the University of Glasgow (Brahms’s Second), the National Symphony Orchestra of Ruse, Bulgaria (Mahler’s Second), and the Camerata Miskolc, with whose members he recorded a CD of rarely performed works for string orchestra by Sibelius, Nielsen and Dvořák in May 2011, upon which the Camerata Miskolc named him their Principal Guest Conductor.   He has conducted opera scenes from Dido and Aeneas, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Così fan tutte, Die Zauberflöte, Der Freischütz, Fidelio, Don Carlo, Le Villi, La bohème, Siegfried, Yevgeny Onyegin and Albert Herring. In November 2012 he conducted scenes from La Traviata at the Teatro Araldo in Turin within a performance to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birth, organised by the Sicilia Opera Academy. In June 2013 he conducted Act 3 of La bohème at the Bulgarian State Opera in Bourgas, and in September 2013 he conducted scenes and arias from Die Zauberflöte and Carmen at the Bulgarian State Opera in Roussé.   Bashár has championed the music of his contemporaries, such as Halim El-Dabh (Egypt/USA), Jody Nagle (USA), Vern Nelson (USA), Matthew J. Taylor (GB), Thomas Wilson (GB), Abdulhamid Hamam (Palestine/Jordan), Houtaf Khouri (Lebanon), and Abdalla El-Masri (Lebanon), as well as rare gems, such as Roussel’s symphonic fragments from his ballet-pantomime ‘Le Festin de l’araignée’.   Bashár Lúlua sees his role not so much as a specialist but rather as a versatile conductor and a champion of overlooked orchestral, ballet and operatic music of all cultures. He also has an interest in ballet and operetta as well as jazz, tango, fado, gypsy, world music and crossover projects of any imaginable combinations.
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