Nizar Rohana is a Palestinian ud player living in the Netherlands. He stands out for bringing together virtuosity within fresh contemporary compositions, while maintaining the ud’s authentic language.
He was born in the village of ‘Isifya on Mount Carmel, near Haifa city, to a father who played ud in communal celebrations. His mother accompanied him on percussion. From a young age, Rohana played music, picking up the ud when he was 13.
After extensive studies in ud performance, composition, and musicology, Rohana immersed himself in developing contemporary ud compositions, taking inspiration from Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and Brahms all the way to Tanburi Cemil Bey, Kemani Tatyus Efendi, Muhammad Al-Qasabji and Muhammad Abdel Wahab.
In 2001 he was awarded a Bachelor of Music and Arts (specialized in ud performance and musicology) from the Arabic Music Department of the Jerusalem Academy for Music and Dance and the Musicology Department of the Hebrew University. For some time he then focused his work on the music of the great Egyptian composer Muhammad Al-Qasabji, completing his Master’s degree in 2006.
Since September 2013, Rohana has been based in The Netherlands, pursuing his PhD in improvisation and composition in solo ud performance at Leiden University Academy for Creative and Performing Arts. He is working under the supervision of Prof. Joep Bor, Prof. Frans De Ruiter and Dr. Anne Van Oostrum, as part of the doctoral program designed for musician-researchers, docARTES.
As a performer, Rohana’s wide-ranging stage experience as a soloist and within groups encompasses playing traditional, modern, experimental, and world music. During the last years, he performed in countries such as Japan, Morocco, Egypt, Turkey and in the USA and Europe, releasing his first album Sard (Narration) in May 2008.
In 2013 he formed his own trio together with Hungarian double bass player Matyas Szandai, and French-Lebanese percussionist Wassim Halal, releasing their debut album Furat (Euphrates) in 2016.
In 2015, Rohana was invited by the acclaimed Dutch bass player Tony Overwater to participate in the music recordings for the IKON documentary series ‘Om de Oude Wereldzee’ (‘Around the Ancient World Sea’), based on the travels of Dutch politician Abraham Kuyper. In 2016, Overwater and Rohana formed the Rohana-Overwater Ensemble together with the Dutch clarinetist Maarten Ornestein; Tunisian violinist and viola d’amore player Jasser Haj Youssef and Jordanian percussionist Nasser Salameh.
Between 2001 and 2007 Rohana was one of the main ud and music theory teachers at the Edward Said National Conservatory in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Bethlehem, and in 2006 he also worked as the deputy for academic affairs.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.