Heralded as the first Saudi academic musicologist, ethnomusicologist, and classical music composer, Ahmed Karkanawi is able to weave the tapestry of life into a musical composition in a way that speaks to the senses of the human soul. Originally from Saudi Arabia, Karkanawi’s musical evolution was established in an environment exclusive to that of no other modern classical composers. Karkanawi spent nearly seven years in Lebanon where he was able to gain a degree in Musicology before returning to Saudi Arabia and proceeding upon further augmentation of his sonic craft.
Karkanawi’s creative passions have fueled a tremendous body of work titled Once Upon A Silence. The album is comprised of six brilliant compositions that capture our attention in measurements of symphonious enchantment. Karkanawi is able to incorporate elements of Saudi Arabian folk music into the soundscape of his work, thereby paying homage to legendary Arab musicians of generations prior while maintaining his presence as a classical music composer.
Once Upon A Silence opens with the delightfully rambunctious track Holy Presence. The inventive structure of this composition is enough to create awe in the hearts of music enthusiasts. Holy Presence begins in the traditional western overtones of classical music language. Later, we are introduced to the vibrant sounds of an Arabian fusion, which provide a greater depth to the structure and appearance of Holy Presence. Karkanawi uses this formula for much of the material found in Once Upon A Silence.
The album’s enchanting dexterity is continually enhanced by the brilliant use of a “world” formula as opposed to the traditional baggage that many composers feel obligated to uphold. Tracks like Farewell and My Mother’s Perfume & My Father’s Tobacco provide Once Upon A Silence with a domestic, yet charming introspective feel that is often made clear through the dialogue of its exotic instrumentation. Once Upon A Silence maintains a charming flow that is both captivating and cinematic from start to finish. There is a magic about this album that is heard aloud as the closing composition entitled As Simple as That (Bas Haik) proves in a transcendent way.
Needless to say, Once Upon A Silence by Ahmed Karkanawi is a masterpiece that is also a precedent among classical works for its innovative quality and charismatic musical prose. Karakanawi has certainly exceeded any expectations in regards to his creative genius. Above all else, Once Upon A Silence holds dear to an exceptional beauty, one that can only be experienced when the composer is equally in love with the music that he creates.