Image of Fadi Haddad taken by Ms Jacqueline Mitelman

“For me, the oud is my soulmate.

It’s like a mirror reflecting my feelings.”

– by Fadi

Fadi’s love for the oud

In 2015, Fadi Haddad with his parents, sister and young niece came to Australia as refugees from Syria. They had lived in Hama, near Homs, a city that sits on a rich agricultural plain in central Syria, and is famous for its ancient water wheels.

The Northern suburbs of Melbourne are a long way from Hama and while 40-year-old Fadi is settling into his new life – working, attending church, making friends, and welcoming guests – it’s evident he misses his old life.

Fadi is yet to find work using his skills as a stonemason. He has photos of beautiful handcrafted ornamental pieces he created, and explains he built Arab style building profiles. However, what he longs for is the opportunity to express himself through music, which for him means playing the oud.

A pear shaped string instrument similar to a lute with a history dating back to the 11th century, the oud is popular in the Middle East. Fadi fell in love with it as a small boy and as his sister Zeina tells it, at the time the instrument was bigger than he was.

“At a young age – when I was just 5 years old – l started playing on the oud and for as long as I remember, I’ve had a passion for it. I used to listen to my uncle play on this sensitive instrument. Its tone touched my heart,” said Fadi.

When he was older, in a setting that would be familiar to musicians everywhere, he and his friends would get together and jam on different instruments, and sing. As well as building a social life around music, he gained a reputation as an oud player and was in demand at weddings and parties.

Although the oud is popular at different events, it does require a special audience. “It is important to have an audience that is respectful and willing to listen carefully to the instrument and to the tarab style of folk songs,” said Fadi.

While Fadi is working as a cleaner and is building a new life, he wants to play the oud so he can connect to others spiritually, socially and professionally. He said, “I can’t explain its magic or the secret behind it.”

To contact Fadi, please email the editors at info.belovedsyria@gmail.com

By Kirsten Bardwell and translations by Zeina Haddad

6 July 2017

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