I was born in London and find myself returning to London regularly, even after long periods of study and research elsewhere (Berlin, Budapest, Los Angeles, New York). All my work, whether as writer, musician or composer, takes place at some kind of edge, on the threshold of another activity. I am setting up Arts against Slavery in response to my encounters in eastern Sicily with unaccompanied minors arriving from Africa and Asia. The project combines my engagement with social changes in Europe with my work as a musician and scholar.
In an earlier life I was a concert pianist, following training at the Royal Academy of Music, London and the Liszt Academy, Budapest, where I was a student of Ferenc Rados and Gyorgy Kurtág. I also studied composition and saxophone, and performed widely in Europe as soloist and in ensembles, broadcasting regularly for Hungarian radio. My specialism was new music – repertoire written after 1945, and I had the privilege to work with several major figures including Messiaen, Berio and Kurtág.
I discovered the oud while doing research into music in Palestine, and subsequently transformed my music-making. I studied oud with Necati Celik in Istanbul, and became a regular student at Labyrinth Musical Seminars in Crete, 2010-2015. While there I worked on makam composition with Ross Daly along with singing, improvising and performing with many celebrated teachers (Christos Barbas, Ahmed Erdogdular, Omer Erdogdular, Harris Lambrakis, Yurdal Tokcan, Evgenios Voulgaris). While participating in the Arab Music Retreat, Massachusetts I also worked with Ali Jihad Racy, Simon Shaheen and Charbel Rohana.
I am Professor of Music at Royal Holloway, University of London, where I teach courses on Intercultural Performance, Music and Orientalism, and Ensemble Performance among others, and supervise doctoral research on topics from the Hungarian folk revival to Kuwaiti song. As a scholar, I have published numerous articles and books, including Orientalism and Musical Mission: Palestine and the West (2013), and Ligeti, Kurtág, and Hungarian Music during the Cold War (2007).