Tony Hillier

Joseph Tawadros – album review ‘Betrayal of a Sacred Sunflower’

That Australia’s chameleonic maestro of Arabic lute changes tack with his 17th album in 16 years will come as no surprise to his many admirers. Here, the prolific and prodigious oud master takes yet another direction. Moving away from the pyrotechnical playing, Tawadros adopts a softly softly approach while still exercising his considerable chops and imagination.

More meditative mellow and melancholic than his earlier works and with heightened spatial awareness, Betrayal of a Sacred Sunflower provides listeners with a broad canvas on which to project their own thoughts and images. The interplay between Tawadros’s oud and various permutations of guest instrumentalists on violin, piano, electric guitar and trombone – and his incomparable percussionist brother – on selected tracks is subtle and always perfectly in step with the leader’s trademark phrasing.


Nick Boston

Joseph Tawadros – Concert review, BBC Proms, Cadogan Hall

The encore itself, from an album he recorded with banjo player Bela Fleck (Chameleons of the White Shadow), raised the energy levels with its new heights of virtuosity, lightning fingerwork and rhythmic strumming seamlessly switching between and blending bluegrass and Arabic music. A perfect conclusion to a performance that was all about challenging perceptions – of culture, identity and, of course, the oud itself.

Clive Davis

Joseph Tawadros – Concert review, BBC Proms, Cadogan Hall

Tawadros may like to joke about his Aussie accent, and he may be a more flamboyant soloist than Brahem, yet there remains a core of spirituality in his playing. You didn’t have to be a disciple of the writings of Khalil Gibran to appreciate the graceful contours of Work, while Permission to Evaporate had Tawadros paying discreet homage to his parents.

John Shand

Joseph Tawadros & James Tawadros album review: Live At Abbey Road

Tawadros has the space and freedom to explore fresh vocabularies for the oud, while the brothers’ rapport allows abundant music to bloom from the merest kernel of an idea. Both players have never sounded better, and that’s lofty praise, indeed.

Tony Hillier

Album review: ‘Live At Abbey Road’ by Joseph Tawadros with James Tawadros

Esoteric and largely improvised by Tawadros and his percussionist brother James, the 29-track Live at Abbey Road is one of the more innovative albums in his catalogue.
…he evokes the rapid-strummed resgueados of flamenco with chordal flourishes. In Father, Where Art Thou, raw emotion drips from dagger-like notes… The telepathic musical rapport shared by the brothers is evident in every duet.


John Shand

Joseph Tawadros & James Tawadros concert review: Two Blood Brothers

Tawadros had the opulent low notes weeping and the high ones so brittle with anguish that they almost hurt. This, more than all the fiery virtuosity, is his ultimate strength.

Not only do they know each other’s playing inside out and share a flair for rhythmic precision, they overlap on the deeper levels of instincts for phrasing, dynamics, space, density, drama and melodic contour. Theirs is an empathy to match those between the great sitar and tabla players of Hindustani classical music.

Tony Hillier

Album review: ‘World Music’ by Joseph Tawadros with James Tawadros

… a tour de force of an album that reaffirms composing and arranging flair and reveals his capacity to play a staggering array of instruments.World Music underlines the ambiguity that characterises the young maestro’s music, blurring boundaries as it crisscrosses predominantly Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Indian terrain.

John Shand

Joseph Tawadros concert review: Only eight instruments? He’s not trying hard enough

Certainly Tawadros is not averse to showmanship (witness the pink jacket on Monday’s Q&A!), but that tendency was completely overridden by his profound instinct for making music that is a mirror of truth; a bridge between his heart and mind and those of his listeners.
…each time he returned to the oud he produced the finest improvisations I have heard him generate, ever: solos of thrilling intensity, spectacular beauty and unnerving emotion.

Sebastian Skeet

Album review ‘World Music’ by Joseph Tawadros

“This album provides the soundtrack to so many moods and emotional soundscapes.”

Nicole Elphick

My Secret Sydney: Joseph Tawadros

Tawadros’ innovative approach to the instrument has scored him the ARIA Award for best world music album for three years running. He is currently performing with the Australian Chamber Orchestra in a boundary-pushing series of concerts of Vivaldi’s works, as well as compositions from his 2014 record Permission to Evaporate. –

Michael Dwyer

Oud virtuoso Joseph Tawadros adds a bit of spice to the Australian Chamber Orchestra

Egyptian-born and trained in its classical tradition, Joseph Tawadros heard his first bridge to Europe in Antonio Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in A Minor. It sounded to me like an Arabic folk song, he says. –

Ron Cerabona

Joseph Tawadros gives Permission to Evaporate

The title of Joseph Tawadros’s 11th album is Permission to Evaporate. But Tawadros won’t be disappearing any time soon… He says the music has a Middle Eastern background but also elements of jazz and is both joyous and spiritual in nature. –

Peter Winkler

Permission to Evaporate

Tawadros was working with a super group that includes Christian McBride, one of the world’s leading jazz musicians on double bass, Mike Stern, a premiere jazz-fusion player on electric guitar, Matt McMahon, one of Australia’s finest keyboard players and composers on piano and his brilliant brother James Tawadros on req and bendir (Middle-Eastern hand percussion). –

John Shand

A whole musical world on your doorstep

Egyptian-born oud player Joseph Tawadros is blessed with one of the most inquisitive musical minds around, evident by just a casual glance at his past collaborations. These have ranged from the Australian Chamber Orchestra to Zakir Hussain, from Neil Finn and Katie Noonan to Jack DeJohnette and Bela Fleck. –

Andra Jackson

From ancient strings, a new mood for the oud

The origins of the oud lie in the ancient Arabic world but the music Joseph Tawadros conjures from it is forging a new music frontier. The virtuoso Sydney musician has transformed the way the fretless, round-backed string instrument is viewed, taking it out of its traditional Middle Eastern setting and into the realms of classical music and jazz. “I can improvise in a traditional style and play traditional music,” Tawadros says, “but I chose to bring something a little different and new to the oud.” –

Arne Sjostedt

Oud player keeps good company

He is in one of the most privileged positions of his career. Having been nominated nine times, Joseph Tawadros finally won his first ARIA award last year – for Best New World Music Album. Concerto of The Greater Sea was a collaboration with the accomplished Richard Tognetti and the Australia Chamber Orchestra. –

John Shand

Oud to joy

The last time Joseph Tawadros recorded in New York, it was with the cream of the world’s jazz musicians. This time he has assembled elite players from the shadowlands between genres. In advance, one might have puzzled over how a banjo or an organ would blend with the Arabian-night exoticism of Tawadros’ oud and the pops, hums and sizzles of his brother James’ Arabic percussion. But Australia’s leading player of this fretless lute knew what he was about. –

Arne Sjostedt

Chameleons of the White Shadow

Gathering a veritable bucket list of musicians, 2012 ARIA award-winner (best world music album) Joseph Tawadros’s latest release is a kaleidoscopic journey into the Middle East, with a few more surprising destinations thrown in. With the inclusion of renowned banjo player Bela Fleck, the gifted Hammond organ playing of Joey DeFrancesco and Richard Bona’s bass – the result is a successful interplay, and often joyous push-pull between elements. –

Steve Dow

East meets West – in harmony

The denomination of the Hunter Baillie Memorial Presbyterian Church hall is irrelevant; this is simply the regular rehearsal space of the Song Company, an a capella ensemble that turns 30 next year. Their new work, The Prophet, a collaboration with Egyptian-born Australian musician Joseph Tawadros, is spiritual but it defies – or, rather, unites across – religious boundaries. –