RIYADH: Famed Egyptian violinist Mahmoud Sorour taught his first official lessons at Riyadh’s music institute on Saturday night.
The musician, who gained widespread attention in Saudi Arabia from his concerts in the Kingdom last year, has performed alongside regional stars such as Mohammed Abdo, Majid Al-Muhandis, and Rashed Al-Majed.
He set up the institute with support and sponsorship from the Saudi government.
Sorour led three classes on Saturday, with 5 students in each. But these 15 are the first of many.
The institute has received hundreds of inquiries about lesson availability, particularly from women.
“We have huge plans for the development of the music scene in Saudi Arabia,” he told Arab News. “In time, we hope to offer lessons for a variety of other instruments, such as the oud and piano. We’re also working on a professional recording studio and an instrument store as well.”
Students learn to handle the violin, as well as receive instruction on music theory and note-reading, in order to get the most out of their lessons with Sorour.
The Egyptian’s main focus will be on Arabic music, rather than Western composers.
“Not only is it easier for the students to start with, but it also pays tribute to our own culture. I myself studied with European or Russian teachers. I want to give my students a more personalized experience than I had.”
Sorour has decades of musical experience and is well-known in the Arab music world. His most recent Saudi performance was at the Winter at Tantora cultural festival, which was held in Al-Ula county and finished last month.
He told Arab News in January that more than 250 people had registered to join the institute and that he expected this number to double.
Classes are available to people of all ages and ability levels, although Sorour is most interested in those aged between 10 and 20.
One of his biggest goals for the institute is to train enough musicians to assemble a Saudi national orchestra.
But he encouraged anyone with the drive and desire to learn to apply.
“You never know whether or not you’re going to be good at something until you try. If you love something, and you have the focus and the drive and the passion, then that’s all you need to be successful.”
Meshal Aldeghiman, a 33-year-old bank worker, tried to teach himself the violin but his attempts were unsuccessful.
However, this failure did not stop him, and he was one of the first to sign up for lessons when he heard they were available.
“It’s incredible to think that we could learn from someone like Mahmoud Sorour,” he told Arab News. “He’s such a respected name in the industry.”
Aldeghiman has high hopes for a Saudi orchestra and, depending on how he fares at the institute, is willing to consider joining it.
“Why not? It would be a wonderful thing to have an all-Saudi orchestra representing the country. This is only the beginning of what could be something amazing.”