Liju Cherian –
Muscat-born Bassam Hany Rady is a musician from Cairo who makes a living in Oman as a music teacher. Bassam teaches a variety of instruments including piano, oud and guitar, but kanun is his first love. As one having extensive teaching music, he is one of Oman’s leading music composers who he believes kanun is much like oud and ney. Kanun (Qanun), a traditional Arab string instrument, also known as Ganoun or Kanoon. Kanun exists in different forms across the Arab world, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. The instrument is played either solo or more often as part of an ensemble, in much of the Middle East and West Africa.
At As Seeb International School (ASIS), Muscat, Bassam teaches around 750 students from Grade 1 to Grade 11. His virtuosity and unique innovative approaches have widened his audiences in various platforms. Bassam combines his extraordinary musical gift with a generosity of warmth and humour.
At ASIS, he is mainly credited with launching a music curriculum for the primary and secondary section in a bilingual learning environment since the school opened in 2014.
Bassam hails from a family of artists from Cairo. Hany Rady, his father, is popular in Oman as a composer, conductor and producer. Hani sensed his son’s taste for music at a young age and put him to learn music from the age of six. His late mother Manal Hamdy was a popular music teacher at the Royal Team of Diwan in Cairo. Enas Zidan, his wife, is a piano player herself having performed at the Cairo Opera House.
He graduated from the Institute of Music Arts Academy, Cairo, with a bachelor’s degree in 2010. Honours came along the way. In 2010 he was the third best kanum player in Turkey and also honoured at a music festival in Cairo.
During his military stint as Head Music Teacher at Military Music School, Cairo, he taught piano, kanun, guitar and oud to fellow servicemen. This led to his appointment as a lead researcher at Cultural Palace, Cairo, and later at Cairo Opera as a jazz singer. This enabled him to compose music to singers in Egypt and later a short stint in Jordan helped him as a composer. This extended to teaching music, both theory and practical, as well as mixing and mastering music in a studio.
Bassam proudly recalls his moment when Oman successfully entered the Guinness Book of World Records during the candle-lit Oman national flag held as part of the 46th National Day celebrations. 2,016 candles were lit up at the Qurum Amphitheatre forming the shape and colours of the tricolour. Bassam played the kanun with his compositions and was honoured by the Minister of Civil Service for his performance.
Bassam says with pride he made efforts to share his knowledge. He tutors Bailey, an Australian G7 student, who plays the piano to perfection and the duo performed together for his composition at the Bait al Zubair Museum last year.
His colleagues speak highly of his dedication and hard work. Vaishali Arora, head of primary section at ASIS knows Bassam as a knowledgeable and committed music teacher having helped build proficient musicians at the school. “He encourages students to accomplish playing the keyboard, singing classical music as well as note reading with passion and finesse,” she adds.
Erin, a colleague of Bassam, admits: “He is an extremely talented and dedicated music teacher who inspires his students by sharing his passion and enthusiasm for music.”
Adrian, another colleague sees Bassam, as a true perfectionist and one of the kindest souls he has ever met. “He shares an excellent rapport among his peers and students and his friendly attitude stands out with his eye for detail.”
Amir Abid Almgid and Omar Khirat are his favourite compositions so far. Playing an oriental instrument has its advantages, as he tries composing songs in English or Hindi for his fans when he performs at star hotels or in public. “I have long-term plans to open a professional institute or school of music through which I can train young musicians and also set up a studio,” says Bassam about his future plans.
Organising music for special events in school during assemblies, concerts and after school activities keeps himself busy. Bassam’s dream is to become an international composer of songs in various languages.