You’re a great pianist. But how much of your talent were you born with and how much would you attribute to hard work?
In terms of hard work there is always more to do no matter how much practice I put in. I started learning how to play the piano at the age of four and my talent was helpful in the beginning. My parent’s encouragement also played a huge role but there comes a point where hard work becomes the priority. In answer to your question I would have to say you need both to succeed as a pianist, talent and a great deal of hard work.
Was there a moment when you decided that music was your future or was it chosen for you?
As I already mentioned I had my first piano lesson at the age of 4. Music has been a part of my life as far back as I can remember. I can’t imagine doing something else. I think even if I hadn’t been taught to play the piano I would still be doing something related to music.
While you’re playing the piano, you seem to be in a different world. Is your mind one step ahead of the notes you’re playing, imagining what the next part of the piece will sound like?
While I am playing I try to listen to myself. I try to listen and concentrate to each note which is being played at a specific point in time so that I can give the composer as much justice as possible.
The Keyboard Charitable Trust http://keyboardtrust.org/ has been working with Iyad Sughayer for two years. I am happy to say that your performance this evening was wonderful. I could see the audience was living with you in the music.
The trust was a result of living with my wife, Noretta for 20 years. She had given up her concert career to teach the keyboard to very talented students. Her students came up against the problem of where to practise their talent and they found it difficult to get onto the professional ladder. It was to help these musicians have the opportunity play in front of a wider audience that I, along with friends and acquaintances from different countries, created the Keyboard charitable trust.
We were able to help Iyad organise his debut concert in London two years ago. He went on to play in Hamburg, Frankfurt and Manchester Cathedral to mention just a few venues. We are unique as musical charity as we operate internationally. We have over 50 partners overseas.
With your Palestinian/Jordanian background, do find it limiting to travel far and wide?
I was very fortunate that at the age of 14 I was able to come to study music in England and I have been living here ever since. But many people in Palestine don’t have access to musical training. The Keyboard Charitable Trust is the only UK charity that brings musicians from all over the world giving them the same chances regardless of their background. For many Palestinians along with others obtaining a visa is difficult which means they are unable to travel.
The whole world is experiencing many problems. Music plays an important role it allows to believe there is something else apart from the pain we feel. Music give the world hope.
Many Palestinians are motivated to push harder due to the obstacles and limitations they routinely face. We are victims, but we must rise above this. Only this will humanise us in the eyes of the world otherwise we are a lost cause.
A few months ago, I was given an opportunity to record my music with a Swedish record company. I am both very excited and a little nervous as I have never done anything like it before.
Which composer do you play the most passionately?
My favourite composer is Mozart without doubt. I do also like Shubert and Liszt.
What is it like having to deal with playing many different pianos at different venues?
Getting to know a piano makes me anxious at first. The first five minutes are scary. I usually practice for about an hour before which makes me more comfortable. All I can do is try my best.
Sometimes you get the perfect piano and hall but you’re still cold. Other times you might not get the perfect piano or venue, but something clicks, and everything is perfect.
This is the art of acceptance of life and going along with the circumstances you face.
Before you play do you listen to other pianists to compare how a piece is played?
I do listen sometimes, but I try not to be influenced. I am trying to do the composer justice, I focus on how the composer would have wanted the piece played.
Who is your favourite composer? Have you tried composing music?
I love Mozart. His music is perfect. I can’t fault it. It’s the purest form of music.
I have made a few attempts at composing music but it’s not something I devote much time too.