Egyptian composer Nahla Mattar releases A Day's Repeated Moments on Youtube

Nevine Lamei,Saturday 10 Sep 2022

The Egyptian musicologist, scholar and composer Nahla Mattar released a video on YouTube of the Italian pianist Sara Moro performing her biographical A Day's Repeated Moments composition at the Church of Saint Francesco in Taranto.

Nahla Mattar

The video depicts Moro performing the composition during the 6th edition of the Piano Lab festival, which was held in August at the Church of Saint Francesco, in the Martina Franca in Taranto, Italy - amid a beautiful, Gothic atmosphere.

Moro, who started playing piano at the age of 9, studied at the Conservatories F. Cilea, in Reggio Calabria, and G. Verdi, in Milan, then obtained her cum laude (piano) from the Conservatory N. Piccinni in Bari.

Mattar is a professor at the Faculty of Music Pedagogy, Theory and Composition Section at Helwan University.

A Day's Repeated Moments traces the composer's own life stories.

Contrary to the logic of "pure music which only appeals to an abstract and absolute perception such as symphony or a concerto, the piece has no extra-musical element,” Mattar explained to Al-Ahram Hebdo, Ahram Online's French-language sister publication.

The programme music and the composition can be classified as a symphonic poem (orchestral composition generally in one movement, free-form, inspired by a poetic or descriptive extra-musical idea).

It offers the pianist multiple ways of interpretation and experimentation, allowing the musician to express themselves freely.

Free as the wind, pianist Moro manages to touch listeners, giving them short moments of relaxation, followed by strong accents of anger, irritation and emotional repression.

The composition infuses oriental components such as a repetitive rhythmic pattern inspired by the maqam hijaz (a melody used in traditional Arabic music).

Moro is not afraid to take risks, submitting her musical interpretation to an abbreviation that allows her to move between space and time.

Those emotions go hand in hand with the fast pace of everyday life and its transformations.

The four-minute piece was the subject of Nahla Mattar's master's degree in 1998.

“At the time, I was experiencing frustrations on a daily basis. I had terrible mood swings, most often dominated by moments of anger, sadness and grief. Hence the birth of this composition. Usually, I draw inspiration from my experience, from my daily stories; I translate them into notes and musical language. In A Day's Repeated Moments I tried to communicate my feelings at that time, but also to break away from the monotony. The programme music dominated classical music scene in the 19th century such the famous Symphonie Fantastique, premiered by Berlioz in 1830,” says Mattar.

"For me, music is a personality that I form. It all depends on my mood at the time of composition. There can be several moods in the same composition; this is what I like to call a musical architecture.”

Mattar makes us discover different musical genres in an admirable way, mixing classical with folklore and contemporary, and oriental music with western undertones.

The whole piece was born from two contrasting melodies, booms and falls, playing in chords and another in arpeggios. So, can we speak of a "listening eye," according to French artist Paul Claudel's beautiful formula?

A Day's Repeated Moments which is both narrative and concise, prioritising hearing over sight, teaches us to listen to all that comes from the vibrations of the world, not with the ears, but with the spirit, with the "energetic breath."

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